Podcast: “Work on management buy-in, but don’t sit and wait for it”

seth adler
Posted: 12/04/2017

The first step to successful automation is to understand the market and technology that you're dealing with explains Ericsson's Alexander Hubel

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Photo by louis amal on Unsplash

A background in the outsourcing industry and experience working on the largest ever M&A project in the Nordics meant automation felt like a natural leap for Alexander Hubel

Now, in his role as director digital transformation at Ericsson, Hubel says it's about realizing the importance of investing in systems and resource integration, as well as understanding the market you're playing in

"First we needed to learn more: what is this, what is happening in the market, and who are the vendors," he explains. "I saw that all consultancies were building up practices around this, and now they were called robotics. Maybe they were still doing some outsourcing, but it seems like the market shifted towards robotics very quickly."

Listen now:  

"Secure executive sponsorship because with that funding comes and access to executive leadership comes and it all becomes so much easier."

In this episode of the AI Network Podcast, Hubel joins podcast host Seth Adler and shares insights from Ericsson's automation journey, which was born out of a digital strategy project where they were looking for opportunities. Tune in to discover how the shift from outsourcing to robotics is impacting enterprise organizations, and what that means for your business. 

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[transcript]

Seth Adler: From Ericsson, Alexander Hubel joins us. First some supporters to thank, and thank you for listening.

This episode is supported by the AIIA Network. The AI and Intelligent Automation Network is an online community focused on building the intelligent enterprise. Content covers a broad range of issues, including digital disruption and transformation, task and robotic process automation, augmented intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive computing. Our goal is to help businesses apply these technologies, and build the intelligent enterprise of the future. Go to aiia.net to join.

 This episode is also supported by RPA and AI Week 2017. The world decision makers and doers in process excellence and shared services meet in London this November, to collaborate on the direction of task automation and augmented intelligence, share best practice, and discover strategies, tactics and initiatives, which industry leaders are already implementing for business success. 2017 is our second year of bringing this growing and exciting industry together. Go to rpaandaisummit.com for more.

 Alexander Hubel joins us from the Nordic RPA and AI Summit, and shares that automation at Ericsson was born out of a digital strategy project where they were looking for opportunities. Within that timeframe, Alexander saw a demo of RPA in action, and he says he's lucky, because his background is in the outsourcing industry, and so he knew the type of work that's traditionally off-shored and outsourced. And so in the demo, he saw familiar work being done.

 In terms of experience, Alexander was also a part of the largest ever M&A project in the Nordics. During the project, he realized the importance of investing in systems and resource integration.

 Welcome to the AI and Intelligent Automation Network on B2BIQ. I'm your host, Seth Adler. Download episodes on aiia.net, or through our app on iTunes, within the iTunes podcast app, in Google Play, or wherever you currently get your podcasts.

 Alexander Hubel. Alright, Alexander, we're doing this, aren't we? At Ericsson?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, for sure. We are at least trying to.

Seth Adler: No, that's fair. And just to ... you did a session here at the Nordic RPA and AI Summit, and we appreciate it. We're still here, and there's a little bit of activity around us. But as far as your journey, when did this begin, really?

Alexander Hubel: It began like one year ago. We were driving a digital strategy project, and we looked at different opportunities, and what we could do that we were not doing currently, and this was one of them. Yeah, so then we started the journey.

Seth Adler: So traditional digital strategy session, sitting around, what ideas do we have, let's try something new, and then we come upon RPA. We'll find out about your background, but did you realize the difference immediately, or how did it kind of settle in on you? Did it take a couple of weeks, a couple of months, to realize the difference?

Alexander Hubel: No. I saw a demo of this, and I was lucky because I have my background in the outsourcing industry, so I kind of know what type of things that have been traditionally off-shored and outsourced. So this is exactly these things. But I haven't been in that industry for a while, so I haven't been following the development in the industry. And now I saw that, okay, there's been some significant changes the last couple of years, since I left that industry.

Seth Adler: Uh-huh. Well let's go to your background, and let's make sure that we understand it, to kind of inform the conversation that we're having. Where are you from?

Alexander Hubel: I'm from Sweden.

Seth Adler: Uh-huh, and where in Sweden?

Alexander Hubel: Here in Stockholm.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Alexander Hubel: Born and raised. Yeah.

Seth Adler: Yeah. You were born in Stockholm?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, I am.

Seth Adler: Alright. This is with the sun out, it's much nicer than the rain.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, there's some ten days a year that is ...

Seth Adler: So this one of the ...

Alexander Hubel: These are great.

Seth Adler: This is one of the ten.

Alexander Hubel: This is one of them, yeah. Maybe 50.

Seth Adler: When you were a kid, what were you into? What interested you?

Alexander Hubel: Mostly football, actually.

Seth Adler: Uh-huh.

Alexander Hubel: I didn't really like school, I liked football.

Seth Adler: Football.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah.

Seth Adler: Instead of hockey, right?

Alexander Hubel: Hockey as well. In Sweden, you play hockey. So you play hockey in the winter and football in the summer.

Seth Adler: I see. And did you follow that through university, or did you realize ... did you turn on your mind at some point?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, some time during university, I understood that now I need to be a bit serious. Then I started to study.

Seth Adler: What subjects kind of leapt out at you? What was interesting?

Alexander Hubel: I liked finance, I liked supply-chain operations. So I mastered in both finance and supply-chain.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Why do you think it was? Because those are different things, but they're related in the fact that they're process-oriented, they're direct, there are rules, it's either correct or it's not correct, basically, right?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah. I always liked numbers, and I realized business was my thing, and that is fun. So I would like the stock market that I've been liking for a decade or more. It was an easy choice, I think.

Seth Adler: Easy choice, and you go for finance and supply-chain, you come out with your degrees. Where was the first place of employment for you?

Alexander Hubel: So I started to look at the management consulting firms, to see ... I mean, all of them were selling at school, they wanted graduates. So I met most of them and I chose one of them. I didn't know much about that industry, but I ended up doing outsourcing advisory type of projects for four years.

Seth Adler: For a firm based here?

Alexander Hubel: For Ernst & Young.

Seth Adler: Okay, sure of course, Ernst & Young. Where were you based when doing it?

Alexander Hubel: Here in Stockholm.

Seth Adler: Yes, but you traveling, of course, right?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, there were some projects abroad, but most projects were actually in Sweden. I mean, there's a lot of multinational companies here, and many of them were on an outsourcing journey, and some of them have done the first and second generation outsourcing. So I was doing both first generation outsourcing, and like third generation outsourcing, and I did that for almost four years.

Seth Adler: Based here in the Nordic countries, and understanding that Sweden is the big brother, you spent a lot of time here at home.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah.

Seth Adler: Right.

Alexander Hubel: That's right.

Seth Adler: As far as first generation outsourcing, what were the kind of lessons learned, what did you know ... you know, before we get to third generation, we're kind of gaining an understanding of what's in your mind. What did you understand from those first generation outsourcing projects that you worked on?

Alexander Hubel: They're super complex. It's not only ... the business case is very promising, but it's very, very complex to realize the business case.

Seth Adler: Why?

Alexander Hubel: It's a lot of ... one, you need to be super detailed when you describe what you want to buy, and you need to do a big cultural transformation as well. To make it work, you need to build a super strong and retained organization to manage the vendor once you have signed the contract. And there's a very complex transition period to move the stuff abroad, and to a vendor at the same time.

Seth Adler: Alright, so you got the vendor, you gotta move stuff abroad, you've gotta have your house in order. What was the implementation timeline? How long did it take for all of that?

Alexander Hubel: My god, that was a long time. We talked about one year, two year projects to do this. So it was expensive. This was big projects for the consultants like us. We had many, many consultants involved in these projects. But usually the client did realize savings, because of labor arbitrage, but quite often I think the processes were not done more efficient than they were when the client did them themselves.

Seth Adler: It was simply based on salary arbitrage, not based on efficiency.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, I would say that. In some cases, we tried to do process re-engineering before moving the stuff to offshore, but usually we just took the processes, and sometimes they were a bit crappy, and we moved them, and we let the guys in India do them instead.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Now that's first generation. How was third generation different from that, and why did we skip second generation, I must ask?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, well the second generations as well, but usually third generation, you've tried out the vendor, and either you like it or you don't like it, and you're getting more mature in your buying organization. And then you might want to shift vendor, because you see that other players are in the market, you're unhappy with the contractual situation that you are in, the prices might get up, you might have been promised a lot of improvements in the processes, but you don't see them, and stuff like that happens.

 So companies sometimes ... they kind of redid the whole thing, they scoped the processes as they wanted them to be, and they put up a new competitive bid in the market, to maybe change vendor or get better prices from the current vendor.

Seth Adler: That's fine. So different vendor, better prices, but certainly now we're actually starting to do process re-engineering, right? We're actually starting to talk about BPO, we're actually starting to do the stuff, right?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, exactly.

Seth Adler: Where did you go from there?

Alexander Hubel: So I was looking to quit consulting.

Seth Adler: Why?

Alexander Hubel: Because a lot of travel, long days, stuff like that.

Seth Adler: Because you've gotta go down south, from Stockholm?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, yeah.

Seth Adler: You've gotta maybe sometimes go to Norway.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.

Seth Adler: God forbid you ever have to go to Helsinki.

Alexander Hubel: I went to Helsinki a whole winter actually, so yeah. I traveled around.

Seth Adler: This was the winter of discontent, right? I would imagine.

Alexander Hubel: A little bit. That was a super cool project, but I mean ...

Seth Adler: What was the project?

Alexander Hubel: It was like one of the biggest M&A integrations in the Nordics ever. So that was a cool project.

Seth Adler: Ah. And what did you learn from that?

Alexander Hubel: That also M&A integrations are very complex.

Seth Adler: Exactly.

Alexander Hubel: So you need to be careful when you are buying companies, for sure. And you need to do your due diligence, in a good way. And then once you bought it, you need to invest in the good kind of integration.

Seth Adler: Invest in a good integration. What do you mean?

Alexander Hubel: I mean, if you want, usually you have the business case is built on some synergies. And to get these synergies, that is very complex, because then you need to integrate systems, integrate organizations, get savings out there, and so on. And that is not something that you do in a month or two. That is a very complex project.

Seth Adler: Alright. So you spent a winter in Helsinki. It was a great project. It was not so great winter, right?

Alexander Hubel: And yeah, exactly. So I mean, I thought about leaving, I thought about leaving for a while, but I found a great opportunity with Ericsson, so I jumped on that one.

Seth Adler: Was that digital strategy at that time, or what was the job that you were walking into?

Alexander Hubel: That was more a transformation role, to work with group transformation efforts.

Seth Adler: So what did that mean at that time? How long ago was this?

Alexander Hubel: This was almost four years ago.

Seth Adler: Uh-huh. What did that mean?

Alexander Hubel: That meant that Ericsson was running a number of quite big transformation programs, they were run from the headquarter, and they were building up a team to run these programs, and in a structured way, you can say. So I joined that team then.

Seth Adler: Right. And as a management consultant, all you've been doing is transformation, so this was second nature to you, correct?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, it was very similar, but now it was just ... now I was in the organization, doing basically the same thing. So I had more of an actual responsibility for the result, in an odd way.

Seth Adler: Now this is a different thing, right?

Alexander Hubel: Yes. [crosstalk 00:12:34]

Seth Adler: How did that treat you emotionally?

Alexander Hubel: That was much more fun, I think. You get deep into an organization, and you see all the things that you don't see as a consultant. You see all the politics, and you see all the stakeholder management that is happening backstage, and all the processes that don't work, and that you usually don't see as a management consultant, but you need to spend loads of time managing when you are working with this internally.

Seth Adler: You see how the sausage is made, is a phrase that we use.

Alexander Hubel: Yes.

Seth Adler: Do you use that phrase?

Alexander Hubel: I haven't heard of it, but I mean, yes, you see that.

Seth Adler: Okay, so this is going along, you're very much appreciating it. When did you suggest RPA and AI, or when did they say to you, you know, "Alex, we've got an idea."

Alexander Hubel: So we were running this digital strategy project, and that was actually sponsored by the CEO, and the ...

Seth Adler: It was?

Alexander Hubel: It was. He left after the project was finalized.

Seth Adler: But it came from the top, is the point.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah. It came from the top, and it was, we had really good traction. We involved like a hundred people internally to create a digital strategy, and then we looked at these opportunities, emerging opportunities, we evaluated some of these, and then we saw that robotics is something that is like a quick win, this is something we can do very fast, to get a high return on investment. I think it was mostly me and Henrik, who spoke today, who were driving that agenda from the beginning, and I think that is to some extent due to our previous background in the outsourcing industry.

Seth Adler: There we go. And Henrik, as you say, presented with you here. When you saw this ... now that we understand your background, and how many times you've done this before in many different ways, taking you back to the presentation that you saw, how eye-opening was it?

Alexander Hubel: It was really groundbreaking, I think, when I saw this. Because when I left EY, there were some digital teams, but they were working in the background, they were talking about analytics and big data and those kind of things, and that was then, we understand yeah, that is something that is coming, and so on, but it's not big business yet. But then I got into robotics, and I'm very sad that I didn't find this earlier.

Seth Adler: Faster, right. Exactly.

Alexander Hubel: Faster, that would have been much ... other did, and yeah. So we were lagging behind a little bit.

Seth Adler: But when did you start to actually say, not only have I seen the presentation, but I'm bringing it in? When was that?

Alexander Hubel: That was like day one.

Seth Adler: It was the day that I saw the presentation, we're doing this, there's no question about it.

Alexander Hubel: No, I mean I know that Ericsson had 110,000 employees, whereof 60,000 of these are in our global service centers, and I know that we deliver some services to our customers that we can automate. And outsourcing services is quite a big business for us, and then I know that we had loads of, we had basically everything when it comes to back office.

 So we had off-shored, and we had done a lot of process re-engineering and stuff, but we had not done much automation. We have done a lot of integration. So sometimes we have automated ... we have very good closing process, for instance, that was fully automated, but not through RPA though.

Seth Adler: Uh-huh. What did you choose to go after first, with the technology? Specifically.

Alexander Hubel: First we needed to learn more, what is this, and what is happening in the market, and who are the vendors. So I mean that was logical, so we started to talk to the consultants since we know them, and them coming from that world. So I mean, and then I saw that all consultancies were building up practices around this, and they kind of renamed their practices to, you know, they had other names, and now they were called robotics, but it was the same people who just started to do robotics, instead of doing outsourcing. Maybe they were still doing some outsourcing, but it seems like the market shifted towards robotics very quickly. That was quite fun to see, actually.

Seth Adler: As an old consultant, you just enjoyed watching them do that, right?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, exactly. I wasn't part of that transition, but all of a sudden the people that I know were doing robotics instead of the other stuff.

Seth Adler: When it came to your processes, what did you choose for an initial case study, what did you choose for an initial implementation?

Alexander Hubel: The thing was that at this point of time, our sponsor left the company, and then the CEO left the company. So I mean, if they would have been there, then we could have probably have just chosen one process and started. But that put us in another situation, so then we needed to do internal selling.

Seth Adler: You needed to re-sell it, all the way up again.

Alexander Hubel: Yes.

Seth Adler: And then how long did that take?

Alexander Hubel: It took quite a while to get going actually. So when we were ready to start the first pilot, maybe in July or something, there was quickly and ... but now there were no sponsors for this, and it was summer, and there was a re-org happening, and there were lots of other priorities happening. So it was hard to get going, so we just continued to build competence, and to dig out cases, and to basically sell this internally on all levels. So we sold it on low levels to different program drivers and different units, and we sold it to different managers of operation units, and we sold it also to some people on the executive team that we had good relationships with.

 So we sold it on all levels, but we had a bit of a problem to get funding, because that was not the time when you funded new stuff. It was a turbulent year, and focus was on making this year's figures, basically.

Seth Adler: Understood. But how beneficial, in retrospect, was the fact that you actually had to communicate and sell it internally to all of those different levels?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, now it's good that we have done that, because now a lot of people know what this is. They might not understand exactly what the potential is, but a lot of people, I would say the whole executive team, knows about this, and most operations that they know about this as well, and some have started, and some will start, but everybody's talking about it.

Seth Adler: For those that have started, what are they sharing with you? What processes are they excited about that RPA is now a part of?

Alexander Hubel: It's the same processes that everybody talks about. So it's the repetitive, mundane kind of tasks that you do manually, where you have your structured input data, where you can describe in rules how you do it. And there's quite a lot of those. So I mean, since we were selling this across the whole company, we have basically started projects in, you could say all corporate processes that you have, on the highest level, finance, IT, HR and supply processes, sourcing processes, marketing processes, even in sales process, we have done projects in all of these. Plus then we have our core business, telecom services processes as well.

Seth Adler: Right. So it's all over.

Alexander Hubel: It's all over, yeah.

Seth Adler: It's huge. How many different implementations would you say you have? If some have 3, some have 60, some have 1,000?

Alexander Hubel: No, but we have very few in production. So we haven't finalized ... all of them are ongoing.

Seth Adler: Gotcha, okay.

Alexander Hubel: So now I talked about a catch-up effect during that speech. Now I think we're up to the catch-up effect.

Seth Adler: So what does the catch-up effect tell us here now?

Alexander Hubel: The catch-up effect is that hopefully by summer we will have at least ... now we are one, then we will have at least 10 processes in production, and many more to come. So I think that is the ...

Seth Adler: So literally it's C-A-T-C-H dash U-P, catch-up. But figuratively, it's K-E-T-C-H-U-P, right?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, yeah.

Seth Adler: It's the ketchup bottle.

Alexander Hubel: Exactly. Exactly, I thought about a ketchup bottle, because there's been so much pressure within that bottle, and there's been a lot of hurdles on the way, but now we have removed the hurdles. So now it's just about to manage this demand, and manage the supply of developers and business analysts, and actually putting this into production.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative). When you say hurdles, you spoke about the fact that it was tough to get funding to begin with, and of course that ... I'll say easily from the outside, works itself out, as consultant might say to you, which of course is much more difficult, you actually have to get the funding. But aside from that, what hurdles are you talking about?

Alexander Hubel: Oh, there are many types of hurdles.

Seth Adler: Of course.

Alexander Hubel: So one is the, I mean this is new stuff, and Ericsson is not used to working like this. So this is kind of an agile, fast way of working, when you do things quickly, and the traditional way of working also with process re-engineering, we have like a hundred process managers in Ericsson, but we are mostly working on long kind of system integration type of projects, which are very complex, and they demand business change, they demand IT change, they demand significant budgets and so on. So there's many of these ongoing, but there was very few quick automation projects ongoing.

 So that was a shift in mindset, because many people said aloud, "You can integrate this instead."

 And then I was, "But why haven't you already done that, if you could?"

 Then they said, "We didn't know about this."

Seth Adler: Right.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah. So you start to scratch the surface, and then you find all these stupid things that we do, and then you see that there's a lot of these things.

Seth Adler: Unfortunately, right?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah.

Seth Adler: And also fortunately, right?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, it's good. I mean, from an improving bottom line perspective, it's good that we have it.

Seth Adler: Yeah. No, absolutely. Because there's so many wins ahead here.

Alexander Hubel: There's room for improvement, yeah.

Seth Adler: Indeed. We're kind of in the middle of 2017, as you and I are speaking. By the end of 2017, you speak of the catch-up ... what do you call it? The catch-up what?

Alexander Hubel: The catch-up effect.

Seth Adler: The catch-up effect. Where do you expect to be by the end of 2017?

Alexander Hubel: Oh, that also depends on a lot of factors.

Seth Adler: Of course, there are many variables, but-

Alexander Hubel: But we have high ambitions with this. And then let's see if we can execute on that. So that is the hard part to execute. But now we have high ambitions to remove all manual, repetitive type of tasks that we do, if it is economically viable to do that. So it's a case-by-case thing, but first we need to really understand what is the full potential of this. And Ericsson is very big, so that we need to do area-by-area, to start to dig in to okay, in this area, what is that we actually do, what is the cost of that, and what is the automation potential.

Seth Adler: Does this mean that you have to go back on the road?

Alexander Hubel: Potentially. I will actually go on parental leave. So Henrik will need to solve that himself.

Seth Adler: We'll send him out, right?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, he will go out. That I'm sure.

Seth Adler: You guys are a truly global company, but where are the main areas that will need attention? Obviously here, but where else?

Alexander Hubel: You know, geography-wise, you mean?

Seth Adler: Yes.

Alexander Hubel: So we operate in 180 countries, and we have found that there are processes close to the customer that can be automated. We have done that in some very successful cases. So there will probably be possibilities in a lot of the countries, but the big opportunities are in the more the back office and the global service centers, and we have a few of these globally that operate 24/7, running customer processes, running internal processes.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So this are the big ones in the back. As far as the ones that are close to the customer, give us a little bit ... can you shed more light there?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, for instance, the one that we actually have in production that is very close to the customer, it's actually one of our biggest customers, and on that we have a full team actually just managing the orders that a customer provides to us. And they were sitting in a high-cost location in the US, doing this. So there we scratched a surface just quite close to us, and we found that. And we continue to scratch the surface, and I'm sure we will find many more of these.

Seth Adler: Yeah, it's almost like a treasure hunt, it sounds like, it feels like.

Alexander Hubel: Yes. Yes, it's a little bit like that. And new cases are popping up basically every day, and especially ... and the plan is that we can not do this ourself, Ericsson is too big, so we need to build an operating model where we empower the units locally to do this.

Seth Adler: Decentralized?

Alexander Hubel: Yes, Ericsson-

Seth Adler: Because I've had conversations with centralized versus decentralized. You're decentralized.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, I think a centralized model is not really the way Ericsson used to operate. We are usually operating a quite decentralized model, with a lot of focus close to the customer, with a lot of innovation close to the customer. So that is how we work. And then we need to adopt it out. But we think that we need a strong central team as well, to kind of enable the units to succeed with the automation agenda.

Seth Adler: There we go. Advice from a former management consultant, now RPA guy, who is on his way to wins here this year. You've taken a long time to get to this point. You've got implementations out there, but we're expecting much, much more. What advice would you give to your colleagues that might be listening?

Alexander Hubel: One is really secure the executive sponsorship. Because with that, the funding comes, because with that, the access to the leadership team comes, and it becomes much easier. It's night and day. We had it in the beginning, then we didn't have it, now we have it again. So that is, I think number one.

 And number two is to just do it. Because in the beginning there were so many people just saying, oh we don't know what this is, we need to see ten pages business case and all of that, and that just took time, because we couldn't do the business case better than we had done it, because we didn't know.

Seth Adler: Yeah, we don't know.

Alexander Hubel: Exactly. So you don't know, and when you start, you will not know, so you need to try. And it's not hard to try, it's almost for free, so you can just try.

 And the third one would be then to involve the right people, and especially IT, early on. Otherwise you might get shut down, which is unnecessary.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Get that buy-in.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, exactly. And get them with you. Because now we have a great situation with our IT organization. They are super positive, and they are really pulling in resources now to help this journey, because they see that results are coming here.

Seth Adler: Yeah. They're-

Alexander Hubel: And so they want to be part of this train.

Seth Adler: They're promoters.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, obviously. They are running big sales shows now as well, in the IT community. So then you get kind of the, you get the machine running.

Seth Adler: That's it. We talked about how you had that top leadership buy-in, then you didn't, then you did all this communication internally, then you got the buy-in again. If you had to do it again, which would you secure, top buy-in, or would you do that kind of tough communication without top buy-in, before you got the top buy-in, so everybody knew what was coming? Which way would you do it if you had to do it again?

Alexander Hubel: If you don't have the top management buy-in, then you need to work on it, but you cannot sit and wait for it. Obviously there are people out there in the organization who will want to do this, and who will have funding to do it, if you don't have the funding yourself, that we didn't have at that point of time.

 So then just work with the ones who want to do this, and that is how we are still doing. I mean, we are not spending time talking people into doing this if they don't want to do this, because we have so many people who want to do it. So work with the ones who want to do it, and who are passionate about actually transforming their business.

Seth Adler: Passion has come up in nearly every conversation that I've had. Again, as a former management consultant, how many times has passion come up in transformation, in the same way that it's coming up now?

Alexander Hubel: This has been a very passionate project, you can say, so it's much up and downs. So Henrik showed happiness index in the presentation, and so this has been a very bumpy road, some days has been very happy, some days have been very sad.

Seth Adler: Describe the happiness index a little bit more than just that.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, at first you find it out, then it's like shit, this is super high potential, we just do it. But then you realize ... then we had meetings, and then people said, "But we did automation back in the 80s, so we don't need to do this."

 That happened on a very high level. And then you-

Seth Adler: What do you say to that? How do you respond to that? How is that ... because obviously we're talking about a high-level person, if he's talking about the 1980s to begin with.

Alexander Hubel: But he is right, in many instances.

Seth Adler: So what does he mean, and what do you say? So let's have that conversation really quickly. Obviously not specifically, but generally. If I see that at my organization, if I hear that, what is he saying, and what are you saying in response?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, if someone is saying that, then we say yeah, that is true. We know that you did that. But what's happened on the technology front since then is that a lot of things have developed, and now you can do other types of automation that you could not do in the 80s or in the 90s, or even five years ago. So even if you have done a lot of automation, there's probably room for doing some more. But if you have already automated on ... if you don't have any people, then we don't need to talk about this. But if you actually have people doing stuff that is not 100% value-adding, then we can at least look at the potential of doing more automation.

Seth Adler: There we go. Alright, I appreciate that advice. One piece of advice on what absolutely not to do, if there's something ... if I'm starting out on my RPA AI journey.

Alexander Hubel: You should not give up.

Seth Adler: A-ha.

Alexander Hubel: Because I think it's very easy to give up, if you get too much negative things happening, and then you have a day job, maybe. I'm lucky, I don't have a day job. I can just focus on whatever I think is fun. So then I can understand if you don't have the muscles to continue going. But I think look 10 years from now, I mean the organization that has not done automation by then, I wonder if they still exist. And that is not because maybe they will not save 20% of their opex, but it's because they are too old fashioned. And if you're old fashioned in today's world, then I don't think you can exist.

 So I think these kind of new things, RPA is one, is something that everyone will do to some extent. And then if you cannot get it going, then I would question you, where you work and what do you ... where you spend your time on.

Seth Adler: Keep trying, keep trying, keep trying. If you really simply can't do it, maybe try somewhere else, right?

Alexander Hubel: Exactly.

Seth Adler: I've got three final questions for you. I'll tell you what they are, and then I'll ask you them in order. What has most surprised you at work along the way? What has most surprised you in life? And on the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's gotta be on there. But first thing's first, along the way, what has surprised you at work?

Alexander Hubel: The complexity.

Seth Adler: What do you mean?

Alexander Hubel: The complexity in such a big organization, the complexity of managing it and getting things done. But into all the ranks that we have, hierarchical, many levels of managers, how do you get from the CEO says something, how do you actually make it happen in reality. That is super complex, and there are a lot of things that kind of are in the way, to make it happen.

Seth Adler: Processes, people, everything.

Alexander Hubel: Everything, yeah.

Seth Adler: What's most surprised you in life?

Alexander Hubel: I guess when I got my daughter, how it is becoming a father.

Seth Adler: There you go. How old is she?

Alexander Hubel: One year soon.

Seth Adler: Oh. So this is only one year. Is she perambulating, meaning on her feet, holding the tables and things?

Alexander Hubel: Yes. Yes. She's doing that.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, so that has been a fantastic year, and very much changing year, you could say.

Seth Adler: There you go. Congratulations.

Alexander Hubel: Thank you, thank you.

Seth Adler: On the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's got to be on there.

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, that must be the song that I had in the church when I got married.

Seth Adler: Which was?

Alexander Hubel: Which is Hakan Hellstrom, a Swedish artist.

Seth Adler: Alright.

Alexander Hubel: It's called idiot.

Seth Adler: Is it?

Alexander Hubel: Yes.

Seth Adler: I-D-I-O-T?

Alexander Hubel: I-D-I-O-T.

Seth Adler: And does this mean the same thing?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, it does. No, it's funny, it's a bit internal humor.

Seth Adler: With you and your wife?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah.

Seth Adler: Alright. We'll have to look this up. That's a very interesting song to play at-

Alexander Hubel: It's a very good song.

Seth Adler: Yeah, and it's also an interesting song to play at your wedding, as you're walking down the aisle.

Alexander Hubel: Exactly.

Seth Adler: Very much appreciate this conversation, and I'm looking forward to checking in with you down the line. How about that?

Alexander Hubel: Yeah, sounds great. A very good community, this RPA community. So hope to get engaged even more.

Seth Adler: That's it. We're all in this together, right?

Alexander Hubel: Mm-hmm (affirmative). We are.

Seth Adler: And there you have Alexander Hubel. We continue to build competence, dig out cases, and sell internally on all levels. Very much appreciate Alexander's time and insight. Very much appreciate your time and listenership. Stay tuned.

seth adler
Posted: 12/04/2017

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