Robotic Process Automation and the Welsh

[I’ve written the following brief article for general staff to get them thinking about RPA in their particular areas. Feel free to borrow for your own staff if it helps!]

What do the Welsh and process improvement have in common? Well, being from Welsh stock I’m pleased to tell you that besides Welsh cakes and a gift for singing we also brought you the invention of the = sign.

Back in 1557 Welsh mathematician, Robert Recorde invented the symbol allegedly after he got fed up with writing ‘is equal to’ at the end of his sums. He is also the proud inventor of the most bonkers word of all time, ‘Zenzizenzizenzic’, which apparently means ‘the eighth power,’ although that has nothing to do with this article but I felt compelled to share it with you anyway.

Process improvement is a key activity that forms part of continual improvement for all modern businesses. You may have heard or be familiar with Lean Process Improvement. This is the process of continually reviewing a process identifying waste or areas in a process map that can be improved. It is an ongoing feedback process loop that over time improves the business through better processes.

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It is often the case that process improvement is best implemented by focussing on the small things first. Robert Recorde’s invention of the = sign has quite frankly saved us all a whole heap of wasted time by conveying information in a simple and efficient way.

As we look at process improvement in the modern world we have to consider the new kid on the block, automation or more precisely Robotic Process Automation (RPA) .

Robotic Process Automation allows anyone to configure computer software, systems, or a ‘robot’ to emulate and integrate the actions of a real human operating the system to execute a business process. In essence, an RPA ‘bot’ can log into applications, move files and folders around, copy and paste data, fill in forms, extract structured and semi-structured data from documents, send emails and so on. They are ideally suited to those annoying repetitive processes we all know and love.

Interestingly Forrester reports that while only $250 million in 2016, it is estimated that the market for RPA will grow to an astonishing $2.9 billion by 2021.

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RPA is also making use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). RPA on its own cannot evaluate the process or make cognitive decisions, it essentially remains static until the user decides a way to improve it. With ML, an RPA ‘bot’ could carry out more intelligent actions, such as eliminating duplicate entries.

RPA is being rapidly adopted by businesses the world over to improve their processes and make them more efficient. Removing the repetitive processes will free up staff to focus on more important activities that in turn bring greater value. Perhaps you can think of areas in your day-to-day business process that could benefit from RPA.

So the next time you’re writing your sums spare a thought for the Welsh who helped you improve your process by the use of the simple = sign and while you’re at it, please do try to use the word “Zenzizenzizenzic” in your next business meeting if you can.

Gareth Baxendale

Gareth Baxendale FBCS CITP

...a boffin armed with a swimming certificate. Having achieved my long sort-after swimming certificate by age 7 (a proud day), I went on to gain yet more learning, experience and wisdom... oddly, swimming as a skill has not been a requirement of any of my roles to date... I remain hopeful. Despite my dashing young looks, I have 20 years in B2B, B2C and Health developing strategy, designing and architecting IT solutions, both locally and cloud based, as well as managing the supply of doughnuts and coffee to large development, infrastructure and service delivery teams. Few headlines... • • FBCS CITP Chartered Fellow • • Vice Chair for the BCS Health Executive focusing on improving Health Informatics across the health sector • • Writer for The Guardian,,, ITNow, DigitalHealth, Section Editor Journal of Innovation in Health Informatics • • Medalist UK IT Industry Awards 'IT Department of the Year'​ - Computing/BCS • • Team achieved NCC ITDA Accreditation standard • • BCS Chartered Assessor & Mentor • • SFIA® Framework Reviewer • • UKCHIP Level 3 Health Informatics • • TOGAF® 9 Level 2 Enterprise Architecture • • ITIL® Expert Service Management • • PRINCE2 Certified • • Microsoft Certified Engineer/Architect levels I currently work for the National Institute for Health Research managing the Information Services and Service Delivery function that enables IT services for the NHS Clinical Research Network. With a key focus on Informatics and clinical trial adoption we support over 10,000 users in the NHS and Industry Pharma. I lead the devops/service management teams and am responsible for the technology architecture, design and delivery both locally and for cloud services with Amazon Web Services working alongside our partner PA Consulting. Previously I have supported B2B B2C IT companies from SME's to NASDAQ enterprises, and also in the mutual sector managing IT for a large healthcare organisation supporting over 900,000 members.

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