be creative, focus on higher-order strategy and give the best responses to customers and citizens. Brown says that if you were to add up all the time automation saves in mun- dane elements of work that people do not want to do, right across an organisation, the accrued efficiency benefits would be huge. He believes that as the value of automation and AI is increasingly demonstrated through more successful imple- mentations, it will encourage more organisations to make the business cases for adoption. He adds: “As individuals, we are

Process Automation, reveals that inquiries about RPA were rare in 2017, with approximately one per month; this has increased sig- nificantly since the start of 2018, with an average of 14, then rising to 23 per month last year. As of May 2020, the organisation is pre- dicting that governments will be looking even more to automation as a means of securing cost opti- misation opportunities during the recovery from Covid-19. Capita established its Automa-

tion Centre of Excellence last year, which started as a largely in-house exercise to transform how internal business functions worked and ensure safe, compli- ant service delivery. Such is the surge in demand for RPA, every Capita business unit has been mandated to have at least one automation project implemented, with others in the pipeline. Te Centre has since expanded and

is helping clients to implement operational efficiencies of their own. It recently applied some of its expertise to the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN), which is managed by Capita and connects 6,000 public sector sites across Scotland. As a result of imple- menting automation in a project to transition its customer order management portal to a new cloud-hosted environment, more than 55 clients are now benefiting from improved quote and order management services.

SWAN aside, it is arguably within the vast, complex administrative departments of local government, NHS and the emergency services where the biggest resourcing benefits reside. At local govern- ment level, as one example, Capita is delivering cloud-based automation-as-a-service (AaaS) enabling local councils to harness

the benefits of automation in finance and accounting. In health, RPA has been introduced to im- prove the speed and accuracy of calculating pension entitlements for 37,000 GPs. And automat- ing the manual, repetitive tasks involved in running a charging scheme contract has both im- proved team morale and enabled the team to grow the contract without significantly increasing headcount. Although there are fears over

what AI and automation means for human capital, Brown believes it is wrong to focus on job losses, as in reality data-driven innovation is a way of augmenting the skills and capabilities of existing staff members, which are key to many organisations’ ambitions for future ways of working. If individuals and teams did not need to spend time on simple, repetitive tasks, they would have more time to think,

already using AI and automated processes to a massive extent in our daily lives. It’s on all of our devices, and it helps us search better, notify us of important information and enhance our productivity. So, we spend less time doing the manual and repetitive tasks, which absorbs so much administrative time. At an organisational level, AI will not only revolutionise the way we work, it will help public sector bodies make wholesale improve- ments to their products and ser- vices, which will be in real-time in digital and data terms. So, if it’s monitoring vulnerable people in the home, you will be able to pick up on any adverse patterns in the data, and stage an intervention. If it’s in the educational setting, you can pick up more quickly on which pupils may be falling be- hind – and maybe even enhance those insights by linking to well- being data, or social services. Te ability to share that information under governance should and has in certain areas improved access to information, facilities and ser- vices. It’s simple steps that don’t need to be too complicated.” Tose organisations that are

willing to embrace the data revolution – by experimenting and being willing to change their culture and practices – stand to gain most. And if they get it right, it will change the way they work, empower their employees and improve the quality of decision- making, driving citizen service improvements, and perhaps even to predict the future. l

FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21 | 37

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