Another day, another TLA (three-letter acronym) - welcome to the world of RPA (robotic process automation).
RPA heralds the next generation of automation and Australia's Troovo is starting to see the benefits of having been a relatively early advocate of the theory and practice of RPA.
Before the Q&A, here's a 60 second elevator pitch from its CEO Kurt Knackstedt:
What problem does your business solve?
Troovo provides travel businesses the opportunity to drive out transaction processing costs permanently via Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
Many travel organisations still require a large number of people to help process reservation and travel data, and often end up just off-shoring this “grunt” work to lower cost locations. However, off-shoring can only cut costs so far, and quality can often be an issue.
Troovo’s solution is built upon the premise that nothing is more cost-effective, accurate or scalable than what we call “virtual shoring” which is the idea that RPA enables businesses to find the absolute lowest possible transaction cost but with scalable and consistent results.
Thus Troovo is one of the few technology solutions in the industry that actually removes costs from the travel transaction, rather than adding costs in along the way.
Names of founders, their management roles, and number of full-time paid staff?
Troovo was originally conceived and built for Voyager Travel, one of the largest privately-owned corporate travel management companies in Australia.
Following Voyager’s acquisition by the ATPI Group in 2014, the parent company of Voyager sought out a CEO to take the IT division of Voyager to market and bring their unique RPA engine to the broader travel industry.
Kurt Knackstedt came on board as chief executive officer in early 2015 and subsequently led the relaunch of the company as Troovo in May of that year.
In August 2015, Tarik Sedlarevic joined Troovo as chief solutions officer, leading Troovo’s development and technology strategy. Troovo now has nine full-time staff and is based out of Sydney, Australia.
Troovo is privately funded and has several shareholders based in Australia.
Troovo’s approach is to ensure that travel companies have clear and consistent visibility into their true operating costs, and thus has a process-based model.
Each time the Troovo engine creates what we call a “trip file” there is a processing fee for that trip file.
The Troovo trip file is tied to each booking or PNR, and drives all the logic and holds all the data for the engine to run. Once a trip file is created the engine can process the file as many times is necessary for the same fee (ie – “all you can eat”).
There is also a one-time set up fee per company.
Troovo is also unique in that our engine is modular, so that our customers can take as many or as few modules as are necessary to drive automation and virtualisation of transaction processing, thus eliminating the huge cost and time often required for quality control or automation platforms.
Why do you think the pain point you’re solving is painful enough that customers are willing to pay for your solution?
Process automation has traditionally been a somewhat fragmented and expensive endeavour, in that travel agencies have either had to implement very complex and “heavy” systems requiring huge change management, or they still rely on a variety of automated and non-automated processes which hinder true productivity and cost elimination.
Troovo allows companies that are keen to drive out cost permanently to migrate to one or several Troovo modules to help get the RPA ball rolling, with no major changes to front-line processes or re-configurations of points-of-sale.
Troovo is completely agnostic to any and all content sources, distribution channels and enterprise systems, which makes for a very flexible and simple approach to virtualisation.
Perhaps most importantly and why customers are willing to pay for Troovo, is that our net benefit is to permanently remove cost from travel operations, improve margins, and free up people to do value-add work rather than data entry or processing – a win-win all the way around.
As mentioned previously, Troovo was built by and for a major travel agency, which enjoyed a 50% reduction in operational costs thanks to Troovo. Our newest customer is a global TMC’s Australian operation, which went live in mid-October after just a few weeks of configuration and testing, and with Troovo is expected to boost operating margins by a factor of four in the first year of running Troovo.
We have also received conditional approval on a patent for our payment processing module, which will enable agencies to use a unique and extremely low-cost method of leveraging virtual cards for all types of B2B payments (including but not just limited to travel) which are also receiving huge interest in and plan to launch in the 1st half of 2017.
Automation in its broadest sense is one of travel tech's growth areas, if the definition is stretched to include the army of bots that are taking over our smartphones' messenger platforms.
Advances in aritifical intelligence and machine learning technologies have brought a wealth of innovative businesses to the table while global OTAs, airlines and hotels are exploring ways to automate their interaction with travellers
What Troovo does is less glamorous but arguably more material - in a B2B context there is often a manual oversight needed to curate the automation, but Troovo appears determined to take automation one step further than its peers and, as it boldly claims, give businesses "the absolute lowest possible transaction costs".
In a high-volume low-margin industry such as travel there will always be opportunities for businesses which can help reduce transaction processing costs. RPA seems to be at the cutting edge of this discipline, and Troovo is in a strong position to ride the next wave of automation.