How to Win the RPA & AI Talent War
Robotic Process Automation & Artificial Intelligence are hot technologies amongst others. AI is very broad and the skill set required to work with the technology varies, however, RPA is more streamlined, and Automation Developers, Architects, and Process Analysts with skills using the top RPA products are in high demand.
RPA has mostly been sold to the Business so it is natural that large Management Consulting firms were the first ones to sell RPA strategy and implementation services. RPA Services have been initially branded under an AI umbrella and are portrayed with fancy looking, futuristic Robot pictures and terminologies, however, as always, the market quickly realized that RPA, at its core, is a significant evolution of automation technologies that have been around for a long time which is why RPA is now being democratized across various Industries and RPA adoption is on a meteoric rise. RPA Automation also forms a logical base for adopting AI in many cases and all of these market forces combined together create the perfect storm of demand for RPA talent.
RPA Training courses and schools seemed to have popped up overnight and most traditional Developers were quick to update their LinkedIn profiles to include keywords such as RPA, Machine Learning, and so on. With high demand for such skills, we observed the following trends:
- The current overall quality of talent listed in the market is below average or average at best. We expect this to get somewhat better as RPA adoption continues to rise and creates more talent. RPA has not been around for that long so this is a classic “chicken or the egg” problem which will get better over time
- There is no shortage of RPA Resumes on Career sites or LinkedIn. If a Resume includes the phrase “RPA” in it multiple times, or lists an RPA Product Certification, that Person would start getting multiple calls from Recruiters of all sorts, irrespective of some obvious shortcomings on the candidate’s Resume
- Many staffing firms will do quick RPA keyword searches on job boards and LinkedIn and then do quick interviews, clean up the resumes, and forward them to their Clients
- Many recruiters doing remote interviews using Skype or Phone calls end up talking to “fake” profiles i.e. the person doing the interview is not the person who shows up for the job; believe it or not, this is quite common
- A large number of AI and RPA job applicants are actually Optional Practical Training (OPT) profiles, as recent international College graduates look to adopt to an evolving marketplace
- Many DIY type Clients are looking for an RPA “James Bond” type of all-round resource. Resources who really are that strong, are very limited in number, very high on demand, very high in price, and will not stay at an engagement for long. In fact, many of these candidates often don’t show up on the first day of work after signing a job contract because they were given a better offer elsewhere before their agreed start date. The search for this type of candidate is a short-sighted strategy that will fail quickly. We suggest either methodically building internal RPA Programs and/or partnering with Vendors who specialize in this space
- Compensation for AI & RPA talent is “artificially” inflated due to market demand in the short term. Managers at large consulting organizations are given blank checks to hire people no matter the cost or what the final billed rate is to the end client. This trend eventually becomes unsustainable and the larger organizations rebalance by “lifting and shifting” high cost resources Offshore or to Junior (low-cost) resources. The market always balances itself out over the long run
- Many Enterprise RPA Programs have fallen short of expectations mostly due to the quality of the hired talent
RPA Automation, like other Technology disciplines, requires focused efforts on talent building. We find that the most successful Senior Automation Consultants will have an “Automation Mindset” meaning they have the aptitude and are trained to assess, analyze, and optimize each business process they are tasked with automating. There are techniques Recruiters can use to assess the “Automation Mindset” of candidates before extending them job offers and before engaging with any potential partners, we suggest that an Organization should look for the following when vetting potential vendors:
- Must have either a specific focus on RPA & AI or have a dedicated practice established
- Should not have “conflict of interest” issues. Some BPO Vendors are inherently at odds with Automation as it can potentially cannibalize their existing revenue streams
- Should have a robust training program on top of the training provided by the Product Vendors
- Should have an established Center of Excellence (COE) as well as Case Studies and a library of horizontal and vertical RPA solutions with clear ROI methodologies on RPA investments
- Should have strong Automation Architects and Automation Process Analysts. Without such skill sets, the low-level Developers are generally clueless beyond basic automations
- Should have an “Automation Mindset”. The “Automation Mindset” is not evident from marketing materials and cool presentations, it only becomes clear once you talk to the Vendor and their Automation Solution Architects. This “mindset” means that the Vendor team has a culture where they don’t just follow orders, they instead guide the Clients on their Automation journey. Most RPA Programs fail because the teams have a traditional IT background and not an “Automation mindset”
- Vendor must outline clearly how they compete for talent in the marketplace and how they attract and retain their talent. Once again, without an “Automation mindset” and careful selection of talent, overnight training programs are of limited use
Whether an Organization engages with a Vendor or not, they must build their own internal capability to manage and scale their RPA programs. Due to high demand, it is certainly hard to hold on to the most capable RPA talent but over a period of time, an Organization can successfully institutionalize the RPA program across Business and IT, if the right foundations are in place early on.
In the end, RPA or any other Technology is all about ROI. While there are no shortcuts, setting up the right foundations for your RPA Programs will help you scale the benefits of RPA Technology. We think that Automation & AI will be as ubiquitous in the Workplace of the future, as Office Productivity software and this is why Organizations need to start laying out the frameworks for Enterprise wide AI & Automation programs now.
At Accelirate, RPA Automation & AI is the only thing we do, and we have worked hard to ingrain the “Automation mindset” within our culture and our Workforce from day one. Please contact us for more information on RPA & AI at firstname.lastname@example.org