Leaders see business through a new sustainable prism

Blue Prism takes the inaugural Dun & Bradstreet Accelerate50 CSR Award for embodying a new age of sustainability, when the very foundations of business are being reimagined


Sustainable prism wind turbines

The drastic events of the coronavirus pandemic, along with an amplified focus on social injustices and sustainability issues, are causing a fundamental rethink of business value creation. 

COVID has accelerated the shift from shareholder capitalism, whereby the only goal is to make money, to stakeholder capitalism, based on the premise that businesses should consider a much wider range of stakeholders in their core decision-making. This includes staff, customers, the communities they operate in and the environment.

While the D&B Accelerate50 ranks tech companies based on their three-year CAGR growth rates, Dun & Bradstreet also recognises that financial metrics are no longer the only way of measuring business success. Organisations are increasingly being judged on their responsibility as a business, their overall impact beyond the traditional top and bottom lines on the balance sheet, and their contributions to a more sustainable future.

With this in mind, as part of the Accelerate50 awards programme, Dun & Bradstreet is also celebrating excellence in corporate social responsibility through a dedicated CSR award. The inaugural recipient of this award is Blue Prism, a global leader in intelligent automation. Having deployed its “digital workers” in more than 2,000 customers globally over the last two decades, Blue Prism is a high-growth tech company in its own right. But it has also led the way in embedding CSR within the foundations of its mission.

“Historically, businesses saw CSR as an addition; what was important was profit and everything else came after,” says Matt Juden-Bloomfield, head of strategic automation and transformation at Blue Prism, and global lead on its CSR programme, Blue Prism for Good. 

“But you can no longer be a successful business and ignore the communities around you. Operating in silos and not thinking about the knock-on effects of each profit-driven decision has consequences. Financial markets are recognising that younger generations, especially, don’t want to invest in companies that can’t prove their social impact, and leaders are having to act to retain customers and employees too.

“COVID-19 was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Suddenly, we now have this very relatable and visible event playing out and people want to interact with brands that share their values. Last year, we saw a lot of companies make big statements around how they wanted to help people through the pandemic, support their ethnic community during Black Lives Matter and tackle systemic problems in areas like gender inequality. 

“Now, people want to hold them to account. Business leaders are realising if they don’t truly embed ESG [environmental, social and governance] into their organisations, they’re not going to exist in five to ten years.”

COVID response

When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, Blue Prism immediately committed to alleviating some of the challenges facing organisations, particularly in frontline areas such as healthcare, financial services and the public sector. As businesses, employees, patients and customers started to be affected, Blue Prism rolled out its COVID-19 response programme, donating digital workers and intelligent automation solutions to help them respond to the difficulties they were experiencing.

Whether in finance, retail, healthcare or any other industry, it has never been more important to ensure the end-customer, or patient, is front and centre. With free access to Blue Prism’s enterprise-grade digital workforce, which is powered by robotic process automation, organisations have been able to accelerate operational efficiency and agility when they need it most. By automating resource-heavy and time-consuming processes, the technology enables employees to focus on higher-value tasks including patient care.

Companies need to start thinking of their customers less as consumers and more as citizens, fostering the mindset that we are all in this together

Blue Prism has donated its digital workers across 14 key sectors, including local and national government, education, fast-moving consumer goods and, of course, healthcare. In total, more than 500 licences have been donated globally, in all but one continent; an equivalent value of more than £4 million worth of software that has helped organisations under great strain be more efficient and capable in handling unprecedented operational challenges. 

On average, across more than 60 projects, 8,000 hours have been saved by these organisations, equating to more than three years in human hours worked per project, representing millions of pounds of financial return.

No robot takeover

“Automation has great benefits, but it has also led to inequality. As a company that operates in this space, we have a moral obligation to step up and do something to help counterbalance that,” says Juden-Bloomfield. “Hollywood has done a disservice in making people think robots are going to take over the world. With Blue Prism for Good and our COVID-19 response programme, we’ve shown that automation is a positive force while also driving far-reaching value in areas and communities previously overlooked.”

Used in the right way, robots don’t displace humans, they amplify their value. When the enormous number of returning and new doctors, nurses and other employees began to cause significant bottlenecks for the human resources team of one NHS trust, it applied its free Blue Prism licences to staff onboarding. This saved the HR team 15 hours a day, enabling new recruits to get to work supporting patients much faster, potentially saving more lives.

The circumstances around COVID-19 also led to a prominent charity, which helps people with learning disabilities, having to change its working hour patterns. To prevent employees from being paid incorrectly, the charity was spending more resources on administration. By deploying Blue Prism’s digital workers to handle timesheet requests, it not only reduced human error and saved £120,000 (and counting), but also retrieved three days of resources a month to better serve the people it supports.

Overseas, another national health system needed help. This national health service, based in Asia, was struggling to respond to demand for COVID-19 testing from 1,000 patients a day. Every swab was registered manually, taking up to two minutes each time. A new solution, provided via Blue Prism’s donated digital workers, went live in one week. By automating the extraction of patients’ information and updating their records accordingly, swab results can now be processed in just 30 seconds, which has saved the health system an average of 17.5 hours a day, easing the strain on nurses.

Meanwhile, the effects of the pandemic haven’t just impacted people’s health, but also their finances. Blue Prism donated digital workers to a leading UK building society to help alleviate the financial pressure on its customers with an automated self-service capability for requesting and managing a mortgage payment holiday. The solution was deployed in just a few days and processed 26,000 payment holiday applications, which reduced call handling times by 96 per cent, accelerated approvals and ultimately gave peace of mind to a lot of people worried about keeping up with mortgage repayments.

“Companies need to start thinking of their customers less as consumers and more as citizens, fostering the mindset that we are all in this together,” says Juden-Bloomfield. “At Blue Prism, we have been working hard on building out our community through our dedicated community platform, making sure we’re able to share objectives and ideas, and connect individuals together. That community includes our customers, employees, partners and suppliers, and collectively we are working towards these common goals.”

For more information and to see the full list of winners of Dun & Bradstreet’s inaugural Accelerate50, please visit the awards hub