The future of any business is typically determined by its ability to stay on top of trends and adapt accordingly. For any business to stay relevant and sustainable, it must have a steady and adaptive growth strategy.
Digital technology has become integral to the redesign of products, procedures, systems, and organisational structures. In this context, robotic process automation (RPA) is changing the face of various industries and different segments within these industries, including finance, logistics, marketing, accounting, law, HR and public administration domains.
Advantages of RPA
To further illustrate the concept and demonstrate the synergy between human interaction and automation, we must first define RPA. RPA uses software or robots to perform routine, rule-based digital activities like filling in the same information in several ways, re-entering records, or copying and pasting.
It enables firms to delegate more and more mundane administrative tasks to systems capable of handling them well and in complete compliance.
By reducing repetitive and manual work, it boosts efficiency, freeing up employees to focus on more creative tasks. This bodes well for the economy, which needs job growth and a favourable climate for start-up companies.
Through RPA, autonomous robots replicate administrative processes in an amalgamation of software, machine learning, and artificial intelligence capabilities to automate manual jobs.
Business processes become fast, error-free, more efficient, and the standardisation of tasks improves compliance and process reliability.
With stringent data privacy regulations, RPA can also play a crucial role in alleviating a substantial administrative burden of ensuring data privacy. RPA can capture relevant information, interpret it, perform assigned tasks, and provide quick results.
Multiple systems can combine to form the base for analytics. RPA bots can further help organisations monitor the policy status of their client database.
RPA tech has the power to initiate a personalised solution for each user based on its data. Substantially reducing costs can also lead to an improved bottom-line.
RPA success stories
In a telling case of the success of the process, the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) of the UK tax authority automated processes to give better service to customers as part of their broader digital transformation in April 2016.
In collaboration with Capgemini, they used RPA to automate time-consuming clerical tasks and link digital services and back-office systems for end-to-end processing without significant IT development effort.
By designing, building and running Automation Delivery Centres (ADCs), within just 18 months they delivered 56 solutions that handled nearly 7.5 million robotic transactions and were used by over 11,500 staff. HMRC’s approach returned twice the project investment within a year of implementation and empowered their people to work with robotics. HMRC has been recognised as a leading UK Government example of using RPA to improve customer experience and job satisfaction.
Similarly, in 2019, Daewoong Pharmaceutical achieved savings of 5,720 person-hours by launching 22 RPA projects with SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation to download external, open-market order information and create sales orders.
There are many more cases like these across industries and sectors, which is proof that as technology transcends from its pure-play avatar to more intelligent cognitive automation, its utility and usability gets better and better.
Past, present & future
The 1950s saw the advent of robotisation of production processes, and the concept has now advanced into business processes as well.
According to leading research and advisory company Gartner, the global robotic process automation market size is projected to reach $1.89 billion in 2021 — an increase of 19.5% from 2020.
The natural growth of RPA was, in fact, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw companies fast-track digitisation efforts as a matter of survival. According to a McKinsey Global Survey of executives, companies have accelerated the digitisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years.
The rapid development of digital technologies has ignited a fresh approach — one that is focused on the future. Previously, the barriers that prevented companies from introducing innovative technologies were rarely linked to technology, but rather to bureaucracy and a desire to disrupt traditional forms of functioning. As companies have had to adapt to remote working, teams have been more adaptable.
The human-technology partnership is projected to usher in the fourth technological revolution in the coming years. Disruptive applications such as RPA do not require any coding and are non-invasive, user-configurable, and much less expensive to deploy and run.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning complement RPA and empower robots to acquire new skills that involve decision-making tasks, rather than rule-based actionable tasks.
The time to automate is now
Automation is the future of any sector and will maximise productivity, cut costs, and save time in an error-free process. Following the global Covid-19 pandemic, companies around the world are under immense pressure to perform— and there has never been a more critical time for enterprises to automate.
With a unique range of applications and the ability to scale up or down as necessary, RPA can quickly serve organisations’ new, unique, and evolving needs when it matters the most.
As Leslie Willcocks, professor of technology, work, and globalisation at the London School of Economics, put it, “The relationship between technology and people has to change in the future for the better, and I think RPA is one of the great tools to enable that change.”