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Chip Wagner: Robotics Just at its Beginning … 

Five years from now when we look back at today’s use of intelligent automation, we’ll realize how primitive the current technology is, says Chip Wagner, who sees the opportunities in robotics and cognitive technologies as only just beginning and having no limits.

As Partner and President, ISG Business and Emerging Services, Wagner leads the global technology and research firm’s emerging and business advisory services, including its fast-growing robotic process automation (RPA) business.


A recognized industry expert with more than 32 years of business experience, Wagner specializes in ITO and BPO strategy development and implementation, business transformation, contract negotiations and telecommunications. Committed to helping clients understand and respond to emerging trends, he is a thought leader on RPA and a regular speaker on the impact of innovative and disruptive technologies.


Wagner talked with PULSE about the one-year anniversary of ISG’s merger with Alsbridge, where he was previously CEO, as well as his views on the future of outsourcing and other disruptive technologies on the horizon.


P: It has been one year since ISG and Alsbridge joined forces in December 2016. How has the integration between the two companies gone?


The integration has gone very well and is effectively complete. We just launched ISG FutureSource™, our fully integrated, next-generation sourcing advisory solution. This is the result of a nearly yearlong effort to blend the best of ISG and Alsbridge’s approaches. ISG FutureSource™ is unrivaled in the industry for the value it delivers – both in terms of cost savings and speed to solution. It dramatically reduces the time it takes for our clients to make a sourcing decision, sign a sourcing contract and transition services to a provider. Combined with our other market-leading service lines, ISG can solve a myriad of business challenges for its clients – from tactical cost reduction and disruptive technology implementation (RPA) to IT/business transformation and vendor management/governance to research and more.


P: Recently you participated in IAOP’s RPA conference in New York. Can you tell me why this event was valuable?


RPA is the tip of the automation spear and a powerful disruptive technology that enterprises need to consider. We had a great conference and heard from a number of early-adopter enterprises as well as some market-leading suppliers. The future is exciting as we embrace the entire automation continuum from RPA to cognitive to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), etc. Digital labor is here to stay and enterprises should explore the almost limitless possibilities that it offers.


P: Where is intelligent automation headed and what advice can you provide to companies on harnessing its potential benefit?


In as few as five years, we will look back and see what we are doing today as almost primitive. Such is the effect of accelerating disruption. RPA is exploding legacy business models, performance metrics and cost structures with ROIs in the hundreds and even thousands. Early cognitive technology is showing great promise. NLP, ML and AI will take this to new and currently barely conceived levels. We are advising clients to assess the potential as soon as possible. We like to say: Think BIG, Start small, Scale fast.


P: Where is outsourcing/sourcing headed? What is your outlook for the future?


The sourcing landscape has changed from the age-old, long-term, single-provider environment to a multi-provider ecosystem interlaced with “As a Service,” Cloud, RPA, and other disruptive players. Enterprises are looking to inject more innovation and the positive effects of disruptive technology into their legacy sourcing relationships. Repatriation is a concept that is being seen in a different light.


P: What are some other disruptive technologies companies should watch for and how should they handle the disruption?


There are many disruptive technologies in front of companies today and many more on the horizon, including (among others): the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, wearable IT, cryptocurrencies, DNA/quantum computing, virtual/augmented reality, fog/contextual computing, etc. Be curious and explore the new and disruptive technologies. Many will be game changers but some will be a bust. Ferreting out the impactful from the not so useful will be an interesting business imperative.


P: Who are your role models?


I have long admired Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jack Welch and others who have dared to be different or were disruptors in their own way.


P: I understand you used to play baseball – when and what position? Your World Series pick?

I did play a little baseball in high school. I pitched, caught and played some first as well as outfield. The Yankees surprised in the playoffs. Most would have looked at Cleveland, Houston and the Dodgers as the likely favorites at the start of the playoffs. With Houston winning the ALCS after a seven-game series with New York, it is hard to not pick the Dodgers at this point as they will be well rested and enjoy the home field advantage. (Editor’s note: predicted before the Astros win).


P: What books do you like to read?


I wish I had more time to read books. It is always refreshing to read good fiction. Great business books are wonderful too as there is so much to learn from successful businesses and leaders. I do like a little short inspirational book entitled 212°: The Extra Degree. We used many of the themes and concepts in molding the culture of Alsbridge.


P: What are your favorite foods to eat on the road and at home?


I am an amateur foodie of sorts with a wide variety of food loves from sushi and French cuisine to Tex Mex and a nice steak.

Chip Wagner at a Glance  

Current Role: Partner and President, ISG Business and Emerging Services

Previous Role: Served as the Chief Executive Officer of Alsbridge from 2013 to 2016, when he helped merge the firm with ISG. Joined Alsbridge in 2008 as a Managing Director and became Senior Managing Director of the Outsourcing & Shared Services Advisory practice in 2012.

Prior Positions: Vice President of Business Transformation for USAA; President and CEO of Marconi Wireless NA; and President of Adea Solutions

IAOP Involvement: Strategic advisory board member

Education: Hamilton College (BA-Economics)

Hometown: Dallas area

About the ‘New’ ISG

ISG (Information Services Group) (NASDAQ: III) is a leading global technology research and advisory firm. A trusted business partner to more than 700 clients, including 75 of the top 100 enterprises in the world, ISG is committed to helping corporations, public sector organizations, and service and technology providers achieve operational excellence and faster growth. The firm specializes in digital transformation services, including automation, cloud and data analytics; sourcing advisory; managed governance and risk services; network carrier services; technology strategy and operations design; change management; market intelligence and technology research and analysis.

Be curious and explore the new and disruptive technologies,” Wagner advises.

Chip Wagner with IAOP CEO Debi Hamill (right) at OWS17

RPA is the tip of the automation spear and a powerful disruptive technology that enterprises need to consider.
We are advising clients to assess the potential as soon as possible. We like to say: Think BIG, Start small, Scale fast.

Mountain biking with his son, Harrison, in Durango, Colorado

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