Robots vacuum floors. They pick and pack boxes in warehouses. They win at Jeopardy. And soon they may take IT and business process work away from offshore outsourcing providers.

Take U.K.-based startup Blue Prism, which makes a software development toolkit and methodology designed to enable business users to create software robots to automate rules-driven business processes.

Blue Prism calls it "robotic automation." James R. Slaby, research director for sourcing security and risk for outsourcing analyst firm HfS Research calls it "the newest labor option in the global business services toolkit" and "offshore killer."

"It's the automation of various business functions: taking work traditionally done by humans and implementing it in software. And that resulting software runs largely unattended to execute those functions, as opposed to requiring human interpretation and input of data," Slaby says.

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