Service Delivery Automation (SDA) Market in 2014 – Moving Business Process Services Beyond Labor Arbitrage

28 Oct 2014
by Eric Simonson



For too long the use of the term Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has blurred the lines, lumping different automation technologies together, irrespective of their capabilities and potential applications in business process services. This report examines the broad area of business process automation from the enabling technologies and service providers’ perspectives to provide a definitive view of the market and its likely impact on business process services.

In the 1990s, ERP and shared services concepts fuelled the emergence and growth of centralized finance & accounting, HR, procurement, and other business functions. Since the turn of the century, offshore labor arbitrage has driven a new round of cost savings by lowering the human costs of performing the associated services. The use of offshoring has begun to reach saturation with organizations looking for even more ways to cut costs and achieve additional objectives, such as improved service, optimized processes, and reshoring.

The next wave of cost savings is gathering pace and is focused on replacing manpower with technology in service delivery. Our research shows that service delivery automation is the next big trick – one that promises cost savings, while also creating other benefits such as reduced errors, faster operations, and 24X7 coverage.

In this research, we analyze the market that we broadly refer to as “Service Delivery Automation” (SDA) and with a primary focus on business process services. This SDA report is focused on technologies that are currently the most disruptive in the market – these are robotic technologies and artificial intelligence.

The analysis covers:

  • An architecture for SDA
  • Fundamental principles of SDA and definitive terminology for the different types of automations that it encompasses
  • SDA trends
  • Key applications of automation in business process services
  • Market size and geography
  • Adoption trends
  • The service provider landscape including existing capabilities, partnerships and strategies for increased adoption of automation technologies
  • Outlook
  • Five things to watch out for

Pre-automation onshore costs

The scope and methodology of this report includes:

  • Uses of SDA in business processes, while excluding IT services (which has a very broad spectrum and will be covered in other Everest Group research)
  • Coverage across all major industries and functional areas
  • Analysis of service provider capabilities and strategies including Accenture, Capgemini, Celaton, EXL, Genpact, Genfour, HP, IBM Infosys, Steria, Sutherland Global Services, TCS, and Virtual Operations

 Adopting automation technologies by geography


This report examines the multiple aspects of the SDA market. It focuses on the types of automation technologies, their applications, use cases, approaches to adoption, growth & changing market dynamics, emerging service provider trends, and capabilities & strategies. Along with these, the report provides definitions and looks at the likely impact of automation on the business process services market.

The following are a few glimpses from the report:

First principles of Service Delivery Automation (SDA):

  • Automation – at its most basic level – must utilize technology to replace a series of human actions
  • Much automation is already embedded in software systems
  • Automation for IT is very different than for business processes
  • Service delivery automation can be accomplished by combining multiple technologies

The Market:

  • The market is driven by buyers becoming increasingly focused on higher value, beyond labor arbitrage and basic process efficiency
  • BPSDA is an emerging and disruptive trend that is changing offshoring, pricing, and the service provider landscape
  • An indicator for growth is third- party automation software vendor revenues and forecasts - Everest Group estimates a conservative growth rate of 32% CAGR, to 2015 for BPSDA
  • Dominant sectors and geographies are banking and financial services in United States and United Kingdom

Buy-side Adoption:

  • Buy-side deployments continue to be tactical, driven by specific requirements such as a major backlog of orders generated by system, staffing problems, or by external factors (e.g., a flood leading to peak in insurance claims or a change in regulation/legislation)
  • Deployments driven by such needs are, therefore, typically tactical in their vision and initial scope
  • The approach typically involves building a Proof of Concept (POC) or a pilot, and if successful, extending to full rollout
  • Deployment is typically undertaken by business – not by IT

Service provider strategies:

  • Service providers are responding differently to the BPSDA disruption
  • Some have embraced it as a competitive differentiator
  • Some are only just starting to increase visibility of their capabilities
  • Others are yet to formalize a strategic approach in place of ongoing tactical deployments
  • The approach to adoption is mixed, with use of their own IP and/or partnering with third-party technology providers
  • A new wave of service providers focused on automated Business Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS) is emerging

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