[Interview] Steve Burke, CEO, DigiBlu, South Africa
Steve Burke is a former British paratrooper and management consultant, currently CEO of DigiBlu, a company that uses Intelligent Automation to create and operate Digital Workforces over the cloud.
Please introduce your company?
DigiBlu wholly specialises in implementing and operating digital workforces, at scale, using Intelligent Automation software (Robotic Process Automation (RPA) + Artifical Intelligence (AI). We implement and operate Digital Workforces both on-premise and over the cloud from our Robotic Operations Centre in Cape Town. While we currently serve mostly South African and UK corporates, we are taking our services into the rest of Africa, initially with the big SA banks and insurers. Our cloud-delivered Intelligent Automation platform bypasses legacy IT infrastructure to leapfrog organisations straight into Fourth Industrial Revolution territory, enabling them to use Digital Workforces to conduct administrative and operations tasked currently handled by human workers, but at much less cost, without error and at ten times the speed.
Where do you operate?
We are South Africa based, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town and with partner offices in 16 countries worldwide.
When was DigiBlu founded and by who?
DigiBlu was founded in 2014 by myself and Werner Horn. Werner was a partner in PwC. Our other shareholders are Dr Alewyn Burger (former group CIO and COO, Africa, at Standard Bank) and Kurt Oellermann (former partner at Deloitte Consulting, Nigeria).
Who are your clients?
Our clients include South Africa’s leading banks, insurers, asset managers, technology services, retailers and miners. We also operate in rest of Africa (mostly with the SA headquartered banks and insurers) and in the UK. We have recently been appointed as distribution partner for Thoughtonomy (intelligent automation platform) for Africa, the Middle East and APAC.
What are DigiBlu's Unique Selling Points?
We are wholly specialist. We are not about implementing software, we are about leapfrogging legacy constraints to take organisations into the fourth industrial revolution by creating integrated human-digital workforces. We are the first in Africa to deliver Robotic Process Automation + Artificial Intelligence in an integrated platform, over the cloud, and we recently launched Africa’s first Robotic Operations Centre, which provides Automation-as-a-Service (Digital Workforce as a managed service) and Processes-as-a-Service.
How has the market in South Africa responded to your services?
Amazingly. The benefits of cheaper, faster and better operations services are always appreciated, but also the improved customer experience, increased operational agility and speed of innovation. At Old Mutual, for example, we scaled a Digital Workforce of sixty robots in just 10 months, delivering a return-on-investment of over 200% and a demonstrable improvement in the customer experience (Net Promoter Score).
What are the ambitions and growth plans of the company?
To be the clear market leader in SA. We are expanding into the rest of Africa, but also worldwide. We are in discussions, for example, to provide cloud-delivered airport services to over 200 airports in six continents. We have been nominated for a partner award by Blue Prism, to be announced in April, which is quite an accolade and I am privileged to be a member of their Partner Executive Council.
What does DigiBlu need to thrive and prosper?
Robotic Process Automation is becoming mainstream, which is great for us because that it is our core offering and we were early to market with it, which meant we gained great experience. Intelligent Automation - the addition of cognitive technologies, such as chatbots and Optical Character Recognition – means that we can automate customer processes from first touch to fulfilment – is only just coming into play, and our Thoughtonomy platform is the market leader so we’re already seeing organisations transition from RPA to Intelligent Automation. The big one we’re waiting for is the widespread adoption of cloud which will give our low-cost services scalable global reach with minimal infrastructure footprint.
In what direction are you steering the company this year?
During 2019, we’re scaling the Robotic Operations Centre, taking on work from all over the world (starting with business sourced from the UK), and creating a global footprint through delivery partners. Our mission is use our awesome skills and experience to be the international leader in creating Digital Workforces – delivered to the world, from Africa.
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