Cognitive Intelligence, Interviews, RPA and Intelligent Automation

A Robot Should Pay for itself in One Year- Interview on the Automation Journey at Telekom


Barbara Zuzana Bodnar
Senior Project Manager | RPA & RDA


Barbara Zuzana Bodnar is Product manager at Deutsche Telekom IT and Senior Project Manager at T-systems SK responsible for RPA, RDA  and process optimization topics. Her focus lies on stakeholder management, including strategic marketing, financial topics and risk management.

Before the 2019 Cognitive Business Automation (CBA) conference, we talked to Barbara Zuzana Bodnar about her personal experience with the implementation of automated processes at Telekom.

we.CONECT: How did you start your automation journey?

Barbara Zuzana Bodnar: It all started with one idea and a small team of very determined individuals…

we.CONECT: What is the current state of automation at your company and how do you govern it?

Barbara Zuzana Bodnar: Deutsche Telekom as an international company has one of the largest robot farms in the world with around 2500 processes on several platforms. In such a heterogeneous landscape, challenge is offering technical precision and tailored solutions for all clients and at the same time guarantee compliance to all data privacy/security policies and international law. Such requirements increase the complexity and create a significant challenge for scalability. We try to concentrate on service for our clients – simplicity, stability and readiness to support are most important.

we.CONECT: Did you find it easy to make budget for automation projects? Were there any surprises?

Barbara Zuzana Bodnar: We in Telekom are lucky to have great support for innovative topics and automation from our management.

we.CONECT: What were your expectations for practical timelines to accomplish your RPA objectives? Did you achieve them?

Barbara Zuzana Bodnar: It depends on internal structures and attitude to automation. We recommend customers to build center of excellence/internal structures early on, otherwise their timeline to achieve scalability will be significantly longer. A pilot case (from idea to implementation) is workable in 1-2 months, creating a structure for center of excellence takes about 6 months depending on requirements.

we.CONECT: How did you decide on which processes to automatize?

Barbara Zuzana Bodnar: Decision is based on savings potential. The rule of thumbs is that a robot should pay for itself in 1 year. However, you should have a look at numbers and frequency as well – it brings you more if you automate a short workflow that runs 100 times a day than if you automate a complicated E2E process that runs 10 times a year even though the business case looks better for the later.
When in doubt, ask yourself: what is the most boring task my coworkers do; and start from there. Chances are you will find several tasks that people will be excited to get rid of.

we.CONECT: What were the key factors regarding your success with your automation projects?

Barbara Zuzana Bodnar: As in everything, one the key aspects is the willingness of people to take part in the process. Automation, especially at the beginning is challenging but if people are willing to cooperate, you can reach your goals fast. On provider side, preparation is the key since you have to create a certain level of trust and guidance for your client to make their transition easier and that is only possible if you invest your time in preparation and support from day one.
In long term, technical innovation is most important since IT is progressing very fast and if you miss the chance, you might get left behind.

we.CONECT: How has your workforce reacted to the new technologies?

Barbara Zuzana Bodnar: Innovative topics always resonate – especially people with some technical background are excited to get involved but the fear of losing job security is always there. It is important for us to allow employees to progress to more qualified jobs which will support their further development and make sure that their positions are safe, therefore, workers council plays a significant role in the automation process.

we.CONECT: What are the current trends in RPA, AI and cognitive technologies in your industry, what goals would you like to achieve?

Barbara Zuzana Bodnar: In rapidly progressing IT landscape of today, trends are changing every day – I am excited to see what comes next.

we.CONECT: Please can you give us an idea of what delegates will take away from your session at Cognitive Business Automation?

Barbara Zuzana Bodnar: We will discuss experience and recommendations for creating center of excellence based on lessons learned we made on our own automation journey and of what we facilitated for our customers. I hope people can take a lot of positive input and use it for their own progress.

we.CONECT: What expectations do you have regarding Cognitive Business Automation? What outcomes and benefits do you expect to gain from the exchange with the participants?

Barbara Zuzana Bodnar: We want to share knowledge and experience; and potentially connect with other business partners so we can drive innovation together.

we.CONECT: Time for some shout outs! What did you read recently that would interest other like-minded people? Have you seen/heard any inspirational speakers recently?

Barbara Zuzana Bodnar: I definitely recommend interviews on automation and artificial intelligence by Jack Ma – in comparison to some other experts, he is aware not only of positive aspects of AI and RPA but also of potential dangers. As in everything, (healthy) criticism is a force that can help you much more than praise.

we.CONECT: Thank you very much for the Interview, Barbara.

Barbara Zuzana Bodnar is speaking at Cognitive Business Automation 2019!

Case Study Topic: RPA Center of Excellence

RPA has proven to be an affordable and innovative solution to tackle a pool of repetitive tasks and move skilled employees higher on the value chain to utilize their skillset and allow them to pursue their career goals. However, after the POC and/or pilot stages of RPA implementation, many organizations face challenges related to operations and sustainability of developed RPA portfolio and struggle to reach a profitable level of scalability. In long-term, creating a Center of Excellence allows organizations to take control of their automated processes and  realize the full potential of efficiency created via RPA.
Several years of experiences as an internal provider of RPA solutions allowed us to develop a comprehensive portfolio of approaches for variety of customers with different automation goals and various long-term target models, including creating an internal Center of Excellence or possibility to outsource this responsibility and join our CoE. In our organization, we understand RPA and RDA not as a product but as a range of services that combined maximize value added and provide highest potential for scalability for both – us and our business partners.

• Viable business models for an RPA Center of Excellence
• Setting up quality standards and organizational processes for development and implementation of RPA solutions
• Strategies for minimizing risks related to RPA
• RPA solution scalability – internal and external
• Platform excellence

You want to learn more about this topic? Don’t miss Cognitive Business Automation 2019!

September 19 – 20, 2019 | Westin Grand, Frankfurt