The corporate world has seen an intense adoption of Business Process Automation (BPA) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in recent years. Globally, digital process automation, according to a 2018 report titled Digital Process Automation Market, is on a projected growth trajectory that will go from $6.77 billion in 2018 to $12.61 billion by 2023 with a CAGR of 13.3%.
With Business Process Management (BPM) becoming simpler and increasingly economical to implement, large and small organizations are automating critical aspects of their business, and profiting from the decision. If implemented the right way, BPA can bring about several long-term benefits for a company, across various sectors including
- Increase in efficiency and speed of processes
- Decrease in operational costs
- Predictability and transparency in operations
- Precise output every single time
With time, automating business processes has led to higher productivity at multiple levels – from processes to workflow patterns to even the workforce. Manual repetitive tasks are taken over by automation, enabling workers to move to higher-value activities that make better use of talents and innovation skills. This not only increases profitability but also functions as a strong motivator for better performance and employee engagement.
Understanding RPA for Businesses
C-suite-level executives are increasingly aware of how RPA strategies are an essential part of BPM. With the ability to bring down costs, streamline operations and increase employee efficiency, RPA is now a crucial part of enterprise-level technology.
CIO defines RPA as “an application of technology that is governed by business logic and structured inputs which are aimed at automating business processes. With RPA tools, a company can configure software, (or robots) to capture and interpret applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses, and communicating with other digital systems.”
Especially for medium to enterprise-level organizations, RPA can be used in multiple ways. However, it is important to view its benefits in the long term for the organization before implementing it. RPA is one of many tools for a company and has to be applied judiciously. One important risk factor to consider with RPA is that the process it automates was a manual one. Once automated, the context within which decisions were made about the process is lost. Managing this risk is best done with strong documentation to support the implementation of your RPA infrastructure. That said, RPA enables the unblocking of bottlenecks in work processes. This is particularly important when there are unpredictable surges in demand.
Irrespective of what drives such excessive loads – seasonality, event-specific, or others, RPA helps manage things more accurately than human resources are capable of. It is increasingly becoming a tool that is on the horizon of every company’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
Why Robotic Process Automation Should Be On Every CTO’s Radar
Here is a look at what RPA brings to the table for organizations and why it should be in strong consideration for implementation.
Increasing Employee Productivity: There is a constant worry that processes such as RPA may render humans jobless. On the contrary, RPA works in tandem with humans, enabling them to be more productive. If, for example, an employee has to generate an assessment report, it may take a couple of hours for a person to complete the task. With RPA, this can be completed in a matter of minutes. Such speed and accuracy can save both time and costs. No replacement of humans takes place, but rather RPA functions as a technology that aids productivity. Once RPA is implemented, its success depends on the quality of training provided to employees to help them leverage this technology.
Non-stop Functioning and Efficiency: With RPA, a business is assured of round-the-clock working hours if needed, with no change in efficiency, speed, or accuracy. The output of human resources is dependent on variable factors such as work timings and individual speed, but with RPA, you have something that functions all day, all year long.
Zero-Margin for Errors: Employees can make mistakes. These can be expensive to rectify, time-consuming, and can result in losses from downtime. RPA helps bring the margin for error down to zero, ensuring that a mistake does not cost a company. Companies surveyed in Deloitte’s Global RPA Survey found a 90% improvement in the quality/accuracy of their processes with RPA. However, the onus of ensuring that RPA has been adequately tested for the needs of the company lies with its technical teams. Mapping and optimizing of business processes for RPA needs to be done accurately and end-users have to be trained well to use it, else a company may end up with robots making inherently human mistakes.
Granularity Increases Security: RPA bots are created to handle specific tasks. This brings the added advantage of security. Since RPA functions on a granular level, a company does not risk data leakage from one sector to another. Every access point is deeply documented and controlled. The presence of data encryption reduces the risk of phishing, cracking, or man-in-the-middle form of attacks. With RPA, the time taken to find security threats and address them is quick and security controls are deployed the second any inconsistencies are found. This helps create a robust defense system.
Boost in Scalability Opportunities: As a business grows, the lack of flexibility becomes an impediment. This inflexibility is usually related to manage increasingly varied and complex tasks. Most businesses tend to collapse under pressure.
However, with RPA, an increase in any number of business tasks can be undertaken. These tasks can also be individually adjusted to the needs of the objective to be achieved. It empowers even the smallest of businesses to be on a level playing field with larger organizations, thus managing market unpredictability.
Unprecedented Quality of Analytics: With RPA, every business can benefit from improved analytics. It provides businesses with the ability to collect valuable data and this can be used for analytics, which in turn enables informed decisions. These decisions can be concerning critical aspects of business such as cycle times and patterns, work volume, error margins, and more. With better analytics, a company can anticipate the need of the market and bring to it better products and services. It also goes a long way in improving the process being automated. RPA works on the premise of collecting and segregating data into various fields. This enhances decision-making at both macro and micro levels. It enables the streamlining of business processes for high-level efficiency.
Enhanced Customer Service: Customers can be demanding. With technology increasing the speed at which their requirements can be met, quick resolutions are key to maintaining good relations. Additionally, customer demands constantly fluctuate requiring businesses to be on their toes. Today, it doesn’t take much for clients to find alternative solution providers if they feel the need. This is where RPA can help. Automating standard repetitive processes ensures customers are managed quickly and efficiently. For example, for a food delivery service, automating resolutions that are common such as a delay in pick-up or delivery, missing items, refunds, etc., can ensure that a human resource is free to handle more pressing issues such as an unruly delivery executive. With RPA, the added benefit is being able to generate reports based on multiple parameters that can help you anticipate customer needs.
Prolonging Lifespan of Legacy Systems: One of the main reasons companies hesitate in upgrading legacy systems is the high costs involved. Additionally, downtime is a distinct possibility and this can lead to immense losses. The complex IT infrastructures for upgrading can be intimidating too. This is where RPA can make a huge difference. They can be applied directly to legacy systems, automating everyday operations and increasing the lifespan of the existing system. Much like a human would interact with the User Interface aspect of a system, so too does the RPA bot with the presentation aspect of a legacy set-up. The core technical foundation of the legacy program remains the same and there is no disruption.
Optimum Usage of All Resources: Anything repetitive can get tedious and when carried out by humans can be prone to mistakes. With the automation powers of RPA, routine business operations achieve high levels of consistency and are carried out error-free. Employees are thus able to take on processes that require focus and innovation. Participating in such strategic activities for the collective goal of organizations can be motivating.
Easy Implementation: Introducing and implementing RPA is a simple task, though it is often misunderstood as being complex. There is no requirement for an API set-up and very basic technical expertise is required. This saves enterprise implementation costs and time too. RPA also comes with its elements and sets of Graphical User Interface (GUI).
Better Communication Flows: RPA comes built with several triggers and processes that can be customized to automate the creation of a document and updates within it. This ensures that employees are not caught up in ensuring minor (though crucial) updates. With RPA, an organization can be sure their remote workers and end-users both receive accurate and the latest information easily.
Scheduling Capabilities: RPA systems come with in-built scheduling systems and help managers go beyond average scheduling tasks. With a series of triggers that can be set up, there are several automated or semi-automated scheduling tasks that can be dealt with. The triggers can be connected to and will initiate responses when something like the click of a tab by a human is associated with it. These are called attended automation. In the unattended version of the trigger, human action is not the requirement and it can be set to an email or a particular document. It is left to businesses to find which areas of their operations require specific kinds of automation.
With such functionality, RPA ensures that an enterprise achieves its potential and goes beyond it too. The great part about RPA is its ability to be used across sectors as can be seen the user case scenarios below.
RPA Use Cases across Industries
Here is a look at how RPA benefits a wide range of businesses across sectors
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO): The key driver of the BPO industry is high levels of productivity and output at the lowest cost possible. With the implementation of RPA in BPO processes, operational expenses can be lowered significantly. The efficiency of the workforce also increases. Considering that automated processes can function 24/7, all repetitive tasks can continue unhindered. Tasks such as those related to compliance, security, audits, and the first line of customer problem resolutions can all be dealt with RPA. Tasks such as generating reports and data analytics can be channeled through RPA. Other possibilities include:
- Error-free data entry and its validation
- Extraction of data
- Formulating mass emailers
- Updating of CRM records
- Bringing scorecards up to date
- Automating information exchange processes
The Banking Sector: Reports suggest that RPA in the Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance sector (BFSI) is going to touch $1.12 billion by 2025. Most innovations, along with technological advancement, have been seen in the banking sector. Its applications cover a wide gamut from customer service to compliance and beyond. Here is a look at some of the aspects of BFSI that it has been implemented in.
- In the realm of customer service
- Enabling the KYC process
- Processing mortgages and loans
- Creation of reports
- General ledger maintenance
- Detection of fraud
- All compliance requirements
The Medical Industry: Globally, the medical industry constantly works at improving efficiency and turn-around time across departments. Providing the best medical care for diverse and large populations is challenging, operationally and organizationally. Several use cases within the medical sector can benefit from the automation that RPA provides. Some of them are:
- Scheduling – of patient appointments, surgeries, staff rotations, etc.
- Supply management – from inventory to insurance claims to billing
- Optimizing all processes to ensure regulatory compliance
In the Insurance Sector: The insurance sector deals with tremendous quantities of data and processes. With RPA, both front and back-end processes can be merged reducing operational costs and the need for human intervention. There are processes within the insurance world that, if done manually, would need a few days and multiple rounds of paperwork. RPA ensures that this is now completed in minutes. Besides this, RPA in insurance can also help with:
- The evaluation of claims and structuring of each of them
- Ensuring regulatory compliance
- Dealing with policy cancellations
- Issuing new insurance policies
The importance of RPA goes beyond its implementation across IT departments and companies. An increasing number of CFOs and COOs are looking into using RPA for its low to no-code solutions that can deal with a wide range of challenges. A Gartner report forecasts that despite pressures on global economies from Covid-19, investments in RPA will continue to rise in the double-digits going all the way into 2024.
Digital transformation is an aspect of organizational growth that has to be adopted across an enterprise. This is especially in the case of automation where employees are well versed in the manual working of processes and understand keenly what needs improvement. By ensuring that employees continually contribute to improving process automation, they are motivated to be the change that you want to see your enterprise go through.