Impact of Automation (Part 1)
Danilo McGarry is head of Automation and AI & Key note speaker who experienced Automation on all layers: Personal, Company, Government. In the episode we discuss how Automation and AI will “take over the world”.
The Script of the Episode:
00:51 Guest intro
03:21 Danilo’s background
06:18 Constant improvement
07:39 What to choose – optimization vs automation
10:32 Government experience
13:39 First government cooperation and first use case
16:22 Impact of the automation on individual OR Automation will take my job (in 2030)
19:30 What is the long-term vision for a company when approaching automation or AI OR Company stage in 2030?
25:51 Capturing MTPs (manual touch points)
27:56 Journey of the company without automation to one with one & employee satisfaction – best strategies
Danilo McGarry describes himself as “a person who relentlessly wants to improve things in every shape or form”. This naturally led him to take interest in transformation and innovation and since he is also a very practical person, automation was a natural fit. You can quickly see results and plan with automation as it is a practical form of transformation. As a keynote speaker, Danilo goes around the world (physically or virtually now with COVID) and tries to “disseminate good information about market and kill some falsehoods” while sharing his experience. His work got noticed and Danilo has been recognized by different publications like Times or Bloomberg (you can check his LinkedIn bio to find out more).
Curious since young age and always looking for improvement, Danilo’s first real job was being part of an innovation team at Motorola in times when they were the kings of phone jungle. His job, running a forum between finance and tech team to decide what to invest in next. Since then, all his other roles in financial services focused on operation improvement and efficiency (how to make company better, faster & stronger). Danilo managed to get into various managerial programs to enhance his knowledge and started to do automation even before there were any vendors in the market by using macros, scripts, reengineering processes. Later the Blue Prism came out as well as Automation Everywhere, UiPath and different vendors. He started to use them one by one.
Danilo was the biggest client in the world for Blue Prism, Automation Everywhere and UiPath and used ten or eleven different automation tools on a large scale.
Optimization vs automation decision
There is no one or the other approach here. The automation journey was about natural progression for Danilo. He started with process engineering in Sigma, Kaizen, etc. then moved to automation like RPA, and then went to AI (head of AI in Citi Group). After that, he took all these skills and put them together: “When you are automating you are also reengineering a process and you still need to have the fundamentals of process reengineering with you.”
When dealing with digital transformation and complex issues, you also need an advanced set of tools with you to service the company properly. The question nowadays is – how you combine do it all in a harmonious way where it does not create chaos and overall, there are synergies between different methods and approaches to improving the operation efficiency of the company.
After completing a decade of work in banking, tired and burnout Danilo left prestigious position of banker and quit within a week of promotion (much to everyone’s surprise). He left UK to live in the Middle East where he set up his own consultation company. The goal was to use the knowledge of digital transformation, AI, automation, and to teach governments how to use it. He had this thought lingering in his mind that one day private sector is going to take over this area as it always does within an innovation. Governments going to be very much behind all of that. The effects this can have on society would be huge. That is when he saw opportunity to open a consultation agency for the governments.
Danilo dealt with 13 different governments around the world, teaching them how to use automation, AI, and innovation in general to improve the way of serving their population: things like how to renew a passport faster, how to be more exact in giving people speeding tickets, how to analyze population and traffic information, how to perfect emergency services by using AI. He was really amazed by the state the governments were in – just starting at that point getting used to Excel, so to bring to the table robotics and AI was a different world to them. Luckily, countries like UAE and Saudi Arabia always think ahead. That is why Danilo started to work with them first and then spread all around the world.
First government cooperation cannot be specified because of confidentiality reasons. We know it was a government in African continent where Danilo got invited for a weeklong trip to talk to ministers about AI and automation. This experience ended up in creating a roadmap for next three years of what the country is going to use and who were they going to give this work to. Danilo then left and supported it from distance. The roadmap included very basic things such as how do they get rid of the paper’s usage in offices, how to digitize in the beginning because if you do not do that it is very hard to do any automation.
The work was very much around security & cutting costs: “The point was not to be the most efficient but to use the budget better.” Danilo’s work also helped to use blockchain for identity purposes (Estonia uses it very hard). He worked with certain departments in the countries where they deal with traffic (registration of cars), in how AI and blockchain registration can be used for selling cars, receiving speeding tickets. The beauty of it was that it was a greenfield since most of the governments have never used the AI.
Automation will take over my job by 2030
“Humans are beautiful and complex creatures that can do things subconsciously without really thinking about it.” One thing we need to recognize is that even though we are such creatures we are given a robotic work to do in our job: things like copy + pasting, reconciliation, sending out mass emails. This is the bit that can be replaced, and this has been made truly clear. People need to get rid of the “robophobia” – they never gonna be replaced as humans but the robotic work will be replaced.
If the company has a team that is doing something very robotic like scanning pieces of information and putting them into the folders and similar repetitive work, such team will be replaced by robotics. However, teams that work on executive decisioning, things they have to think about and take multiple sensory inputs can by no means be replaced by today’s automation or AI. And that is clear distinction people have to make because many times they will go to a high-level summary that automation will replace people and that is not necessarily the case.
Company stage in 2030
Automation requires exact understanding of what the person is doing at a click level – every click, every stroke of the keyboard, you have to understand exactly why they do things and look at all the decision trees they go through in the decision process.
There is nothing else that you do in working life that requires that level of information. So “automation is forcing the topic of what are people doing” and when you do that you start understanding why the company is working in a certain way, why certain teams are taking longer than others, etc. By doing that you very quickly start to force the company to understand perfectly what they are doing and come out of their subconscious and think about things more strategically. When you force that topic, you end up doing a lot of things – you end up giving company a backbone of – How do we do the things better. And when you do that, you get people working together more closely, talking to others than just their own teams: “Collaboration goes through the roof.” Because you are doing all this from the ground up, you eventually affect your clients: sometimes more quickly, sometimes it takes a while.
Because people are getting the chance to re-skill and enjoy their work again – research shows that employee satisfaction also goes up. When employee satisfaction goes up, expenses on training and hiring go down because less people are leaving, you can do more work safely with less or same amount of people which means you need less real estate. One of the biggest costs for companies today are salaries and real estate – so when you eliminate having real estate that is a huge saving as well. There are lot of tangible and intangible benefits of automation.
Measuring manual touch points – MTP – how manual is the company (how many times people click their mouse and type into their keyboard). When measuring the success many people just look at how many FTEs did you save but what you need to understand is that robotic stays alive for years – you build a robot today and it stays for 3-4 years and benefits from that both tangible and intangible snowball over time. So, the benefit comes clear in a long run.
Measuring manual touch points (MTP) means measuring how manual is the company: how many times people click on their mouse and type into their keyboard. This serves as one way of measuring automation success, to look if MTPs are going down for humans and going up for robots. This can weight the success in short term as FTE benefits come clear in a long run.
Hard part is collecting all this information together so you can visualize it – you need one or two decent data scientists to put that together for you (also depends on the set up). This can also become a part of your process mapping. Still, the MTP allows to look at the processes from higher level as people many times forget how manual their work is. Then we can easily see the difference from year to year when automation is introduced.
When MTP stays the same you are not really doing a real job. So, it is a good measurement of how good of a job you are performing.
Journey of company / Best strategies
It is all about people.
The only time when the employees were negative about automation was when they were not involved and realized something strange is happening while having no information whatsoever. However, if you make it public and involve TMI strategy, involving people as champions of processes or automations projects while re-skilling along the way, they will enjoy it.
Something like Automation Champions Program might give people chance to skill in the automation sector and learn how to automate, how to build robots. It is all about involving people.
In today’s world automation is something expected. It is no longer the shiny toy that only the Top companies have. Customers are expecting you to have automation for their project to lessen the number of errors. You re-skill people while you are automating – that is the trick!