Beating the Odds: Robotic Process Automation at the Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort
Kevin Legendre had a love of “numbers” but before enrolling at Nichols College it typically manifested in sports statistics. However, his work in and outside of class with Prof. Bryant Richards, now the Director of Nichols Center for Intelligent Process Automation (CIPA), introduced Kevin to not just the computation of statistics but the analytical potential for data as well—and eventually to the power of automating those processes.
Kevin employed this interest in data analytics on campus first, partnering with another student and Nichols’ Fisher Institute to evaluate the success of campus events. Rather than just tracking data from past events, they were able to use existing data and create a ratio for predictive analytics, allowing the College to estimate student participation, streamline budgeting, and make more events more successful. It was a success for Kevin, too. “I knew I wanted to work with data and so that’s how I started my passion for data analytics,” but it wasn’t clear how that would translate into a specific career field.
Prof. Richards leveraged a deep relationship with the Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort with Kevin’s strong potential for data analysis to place him as a consultant for Mohegan’s internal auditing department. Despite no formal training, his passion for interpreting data made him a strong candidate to work as an internal auditor for an organization that generates more than $1 billion in revenue. Mohegan’s numbers matter a great deal.
After learning the organization and the industry better in his first few years, Kevin recognized the growth of data analytics in auditing; around the same time, Prof. Richards and the CIPA were taking the next step toward learning and training others in Robotic Processing Automation (RPA). Kevin’s propensity for creating efficiency in the mundane tasks, in order to make time for more complicated and creative endeavors, made RPA instantly appealing. When a keynote speaker at a conference for auditing in the gaming industry also made a reference to the growth of automation, Kevin says “my eyes lit up right away.”
CIPA provided training, support, and tools for Kevin to experiment with RPA providers, and Prof. Richards worked with him to identify relevant use cases and craft some new concepts that would be applicable to Mohegan. When Kevin pitched the potential to his supervisors, they agreed that automating processes would provide value to Mohegan, and its auditors in particular, not by replacing people with automation but by freeing up more time for their auditors to do creative and complex projects. “Sure there’s going to be parts of your job that get taken away,” Kevin says, “but now that’s going to free you up for more value add tasks…this isn’t this isn’t taking a job away it’s making your job easier.” For example, automating routine, operational or compliance-oriented audits gives him more time to actually review the findings—“put eyeballs on it”—and think creatively about solutions.
With CIPA and Mohegan’s support, Kevin has developed two proof of concepts that show the potential for RPA in the Casino and Resort. First, he crafted an automation for his direct supervisor to audit Mohegan’s tenants. Previously, a manual audit required about 40 hours of her time, much of that spent aligning data that did not merge correctly into a spreadsheet. The time commitment made that prohibitive to conduct more than once each quarter. Kevin’s RPA reduced that time commitment from 40 hours to seven minutes. Next, he used RPA to streamline a compliance audit for physical security, automating a report on which access cards are opening which doors in the facility. Given the size of Mohegan, that report could take up to 100 hours per year; the RPA was complete in twenty minutes.
Both of these proofs of concept represented a significant return on time investment for Mohegan. Next year, Kevin anticipates about 50% of his time being devoted to identifying areas where RPA can provide more efficiency, and then developing those automations. Calculating how many hours are spent on certain projects, and how much time can be saved via RPA, Kevin projects the first six or seven saving between 1500 to 2000 hours for Mohegan employees each year. Leveraging automation for data analysis is a significant area of growth for the gaming industry, and the best way for it to increase the odds that the organization will run efficiently, so that its talented employees can use their time less for routine reporting and more for creative problem-solving.