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Book Review: Service Automation - Robots and the Future of Work

Service Automation – Robots and the Future of Work by Leslie P. Willcocks and Mary Lacity is one of the first books on the market that focuses exclusively on Robotic Process Automation and its impact on businesses.

Leslie Willcocks and Mary Lacity, professors at the London School of Economics and the University of Missouri St.-Louis respectively, are world experts on information technology and global sourcing.

In Service Automation – Robots and the Future of Work they present a comprehensive analysis of the current state of Robotic Process Automation, a technology that enables the automatic handling of structured business processes.

The book explains not only what Robotic Process Automation is and what it can do, it also provides tips and best practices to successfully start companies on their RPA journey.

Case Studies

Furthermore, the book presents three case studies on the implementation of RPA by a telecommunications provider, an insurance business and a utilities company. All of them were able to achieve significantly reduce process costs and handling time. They also achieved impressive ROIs, often already in the first year.

Telefonica O2, for example, was able to achieve a three-year-ROI of 650-800%.

The case study about the utilities company also contains impressive figures. This early adopter has 300 robots handling over 1 million processes per month.

However, the book is very focussed on Great Britain and one RPA technology provider. What is missing is a broader look at the state of the RPA market, different providers and their distinguishing features. It is very much focused on one provider, with whom they worked together on the case studies. 

The last third of the book consists of client, provider and advisor points of view. Particularly the experiences of the clients are interesting as they all pointed out similar advantages gained by the implementation of Robotic Process Automation. Employee motivation increased, the service quality improved and, through automation, they were able to provide additional services and increase the service volume.

“Imagine the little hamster that just runs and runs and runs and runs on the wheel – we’re trying to get our business people off the wheel. We’re trying to give them the time to do the things that they ought to be doing instead of the things they have to do. In two years from now, I plan on having 30 to 40 percent of the total enterprise-led processes automated.” – Michael Chambers, VHA, p.99


A comprehensive look at Robotic Process Automation, its capabilities and some best practices on how to implement it in businesses with many quotes from clients, advisors and providers. However, it should be kept in mind that the book focuses heavily on one provider and readers will not find an analysis of different providers or the RPA market in this book.

ALMATO is one of the pioneers of Robotic Process Automation in the DACH region. Contact us to find out how you can implement RPA in your business.

For more information on Robotic Process Automation, have a look at our datasheet:

RPA Overview

Sara Gebhardt      4. November 2016


Sara Gebhardt

Sara Gebhardt

Sara started working as Marketing Manager at ALMATO in 2015.

She has a M.A. in International Cultural and Business Studies. As part of a Double Degree Programme she spent a year in Scotland and wrote her thesis on What Would Bond Buy? An Investigation Into Young Consumers' Attitudes Towards Product Placement in Films.

After her studies, she moved to Belgium and worked for a software company as Business Developer for Germany and Spain, before moving back to her beautiful home city of Stuttgart. In her free time, she reads obsessively across all genres.