18 May 2020


    An introduction to Robotics Processing Automation (RPA)

    As Vodacom embraces digital technologies to improve our customer experience, it's important to know what digital means to us and what we would like to achieve by using it.

    In Vodacom Customer Operations, automation forms part of a larger digital spectrum.

    As we embark on a journey of embracing digital technologies and using it to improve our customer experience, we need to know what digital means to us and what we would like to achieve by using it. As an organisation, we have a unique opportunity to use digital capabilities to enhance the customer experience and improve the operational efficiency of our organisation.

    Considering the vision of an ideal customer experience with Vodacom and how we have improved in the past, the question raised is; what can automation, as a capability within the digital ecosystem, offer the overall Vodacom operation?

    Solving and learning quicker together using digital hackathons

    As Vodacom SA is developing a digital capability within Customer Operations in partnership with TechM SA, we are challenged with finding ideal automation opportunities, demonstrating the capability and doing this in a way that inspires, educates and motivates our stakeholders to change and adopt to digital tools.

    As a digital leader, we must balance the speed of delivery against the business architectural change so that we provide some tangible result that improves our customer/client experience and proves feasible to the investor.

    For Julian Abrahams (Vodacom) and Ashish Sharma (Tech Mahindra) these are not new challenges. Together they have over 15 years automation experience, and have worked globally, impacting technology and operational change across numerous processes/operations, organisations, industry sectors and countries.  

    The challenge they had was to solve complex business problems that will improve the experience for Vodacom customers, using robotics and automation.

    The idea was to help the team and increase the speed at which the RPA team collaborates with the business units that we service.Julian and Ashish decided to experiment with the idea of conducting a hackathon focussed on developing proof of concept (POC) builds within 5 days.

    The RPA team would partner  with the business team, jointly review business problems and current designs  and work together to develop a future design and prototype

    Let’s take step back to understand what this all means.

    What is Digital and Robotics Process Automation (RPA)?

    Garner explains it well by saying that digital is simply described as anything able to transmit a signal that conveys information through a series of coded pulses (1s and 0s). So, this could be a mobile phone, computer or any IoT device: 

    Robotic process automation (RPA), as described by www.aiim.org, is software that you can use to automate human activities. You can teach these tools to help you with those boring, mundane, manual, repetitive tasks and even help with some of the complex work. The bots can interact with one or more software applications to enter data, process transactions, or respond to simple service queries.

    Look out for part two where we look at what a Hackathon entails.