GREAT IDEAS

Profit maximization through robotics automation

A start-up company that could improve profitability through enhanced automation

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Rohit Rathore wants to take automation in the newspaper industry to a new level by incorporating robotics and artificial intelligence into largely repetitive business functions.

This cutting-edge technology is rapidly emerging as a game changer in financial and insurance industries and offers significant benefits to the media industry as well, Rathore said. He said that if it is applied diligently, the result would be dramatic cost savings ranging from 40 to 80 percent for newspapers and the opportunity to reduce or eliminate outsourcing, especially outsourcing overseas.

Rathore's Atlanta-based startup company is called RiteSys Automation (www.ritesys.com). An SNPA member, the entrepreneur said he has worked with media companies for more than 20 years, including Morris Communications, Cox Media, tronc and other newspapers and magazines around the country.

RiteSys got started last summer and has been in the development stage. Rathore intends to unveil his new venture first at the annual Media Finance Focus conference (www.mediafinance.org) being held May 21-23 in Arlington, Va. The conference is put on by the Media Financial Management Association and its subsidiary credit association, BCCA.

Rathore also is looking forward to connecting with SNPA members at the News Industry Summit in Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 10-12. 

"My heart lies with newspapers," he said. Although he has helped media companies cut costs and become more efficient over years, he is well aware of the ongoing costs and revenue challenges still facing the industry. He thinks newspaper publishers are more likely to be receptive to start-up innovative technology that improves efficiency and saves money while improving quality, talent management and overall customer experience. Other segments of the media industry, such as magazines, books and broadcast, will be more likely to take a look if newspapers can employ the technology successfully and derive expected benefits.

"We'll help you get leaner and in-source at the same time, with more automation," Rathore said.

That doesn't mean RiteSys intends to have robots running around a newspaper building. Rather, the concept is artificially intelligent software that handles repetitive tasks in customer service, financial management and IT areas, Rathore said. Functions that can become more automated include payroll, invoicing, accounts payable, credit sales, call centers, IT support and other areas where human labor performs repetitive tasks on a regular basis.

"It is a piece of intelligent software," he said. "It is actually intelligent software that learns what you do on your computer and then mimics it, and then gets better than you over time."

The software also learns from human mistakes and eventually replaces humans at significantly less expense, Rathore said. "The human labor could be retrained and redeployed for higher-value activities in the organization."

Initially, Rathore seeks individual newspaper publishers or companies interested in piloting the technology for the newspaper industry. He admits there will be a learning curve and challenges to be worked out, hence the need for pilot programs before full-scale implementation.

Rathore describes automation as a journey that provides both significant near-term and strategic business benefits. However, he said, more than 50 percent of automation projects fail due to a lack of risk management, proper planning and discipline in execution. It is critical for newspapers to engage in operations automation with the right mindset and a trusted partner to ensure overall success, he said.

Mindful of the keen interest of media companies in new revenue sources, Rathore also invites SNPA members to check out his six-week-old website www.latidune.com. Latidune is a heavily automated media platform for players of online video games.

Rathore became interested in video games through his children and soon became a heavy player. Latidune aggregates and curates content about the 20 most popular video games in the world based on views and ratings. It offers news, tips, merchandise and gaming products. The site is updated with new content every 15 minutes.

Rathore said Latidune already attracts 150 to 200 new users daily. For newspaper leaders, the site is an example of a digital product that attracts millennials and employs new technology to generate revenue with minimal operating cost and support staff, he said.

For more information, contact rohit.rathore@ritesys.com.


Jane Nicholes

Jane Nicholes is a veteran journalist based in coastal Alabama and is a regular contributor to SNPA. Reach her at jbnicholes@att.net.

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