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Enterprises can hire software robots at the push of a button

IPsoft is beta testing a marketplace where businesses can look at what software robots are available and interview them about their suitability to take roles

Large enterprises looking to replace humans to complete business processes have interviewed about 1,500 software robots in the pre-launch phase of IPsoft’s 1Store marketplace.

The marketplace, which is currently being beta tested with a group of IPsoft’s enterprise customers, is like an app store for bots.

More than 500 bot candidates have been given roles so far, and the full launch of 1Store is expected in the coming months.

The marketplace offers Amelia, IPsoft’s cognitive agent, and businesses can look at its capabilities for certain roles and even interview robots before selecting them. Jobs that the robots are doing include cloud administrators in IT departments and claims administrators in insurance.

Each robot could potentially replace thousands of humans carrying out roles in IT departments, as well as those performing customer support in banking, finance, telecoms and retail.

Amelia, which was launched in 2014, has an understanding of the semantics of language and can learn to solve business process queries like a human.

Chetan Dube, CEO at IPsoft, told Computer Weekly that businesses using 1Store can look at the CVs of robots, which include their capabilities as well as what existing business users and analysts are saying about them.

“With a human, you would have to go to LinkedIn, but through this you will also get ratings given by an existing user and look at what the analysts are saying,” said Dube.

At this stage, businesses can click to interview and interact with a robot using multiple channels, including voice, to ask questions about the role, he said. “If you get a degree of confidence, you click ‘hire’. Then you instruct the robot about its role.”

Read more about IPsoft’s Amelia

According to IPsoft, about half the robots placed so far are in IT support, with 20% in banking, the same proportion in insurance, and the others shared across other sectors, including retail.

The IT services roles are internal, providing services to IT teams, but most of the others in banking, insurance and retail are customer-facing, with bots being the first point of contact for customers making enquiries.

Dube said about 112,000 customer calls a day are handled by IPsoft customer Telefonica in Peru using Amelia. “These calls are made when people have a problem with their account,” he said. “Humans have to be liberated from these chores.”

Dube described the jobs being done by robots as “high-friction, low-margin roles”. They are jobs that have to be done, have high costs, but businesses do not make money out of them. Firms are replacing large numbers of staff in such roles with software robots.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of jobs 2018 report predicted that 75 million current jobs will be automated by 2022, and that 52% of jobs today will be done by robots by 2025.

Analyst firm Forrester has predicted that during 2019, more than 40% of firms will create digital workers powered by artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA).

JP Gownder, vice-president and principal analyst at Forrester, said the creation of bots is accelerating. “CIOs have hired bot masters to manage RPA bots, creatives and designers to improve user interfaces of chatbots and voice skills, and process experts to solve business problems,” he said.

Read more on IT for financial services

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