Signals from the financial market don’t paint an optimistic picture for the near term.
The COVID-19 crisis has not only led stocks to plunge but has also resulted in consumer and business behavior changes that may be lasting. As businesses face the realities of working through an economic downturn, they’ll be looking to efficiency and productivity-enabling technologies such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to adapt their business models. Automating manual processes at scale will enable businesses to deploy workers to top priorities, reduce costs associated with simple rule-based business processes, and concentrate on strategic approaches that will get them through economic uncertainty.
What is RPA and Why Should I Care?
Robotic Process Automation refers to software that can be easily programmed to do typically basic (and advanced in certain cases), repetitive, rules-based tasks across applications.
RPA offers a non-invasive alternative to traditional IT integration. It uses a machine-based automation technology (or bot) that possesses data entry, interchange, and manipulation between applications, humans, and processes. RPA does this by mimicking human interactions with web applications, desktop applications, web sites, portals, Excel worksheets, legacy green-screen apps, etc.
The use of RPA technologies is growing at a rate like no other as seen by the rise in pure RPA vendors like Automation Anywhere, UiPath, Blue Prism, and Appian, as well as the incorporation of RPA modules into existing technology vendor suites, e.g. Microsoft’s Power Automate and SAP’s Intelligent RPA.
Global robotic process automation (RPA) software revenue is projected to reach $1.89 billion in 2021, an increase of 19.5% from 2020, according to the latest forecast from Gartner, Inc. Despite economic pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the RPA market is still expected to grow at double-digit rates through 2024.
Key Benefits of RPA
RPA technology supports redeployment of resources to higher value functions. Ninety-three percent of RPAs do not replace humans. Instead, they reduce time spent on repetitive tasks, such as data entry, and enable people them to spend time and effort in areas where automation wouldn’t make as much sense, such as customer service or user interface development.
Software robots cut down on errors made by human workers and reduce the risk of non-compliance with internal processes and external regulations.
RPA implementation enables consistent performance and increases productivity.
Anyone can use RPA tools. Advances in this technology will allow business users, IT workers, and developers to use drag-and-drop functionality to automate processes.
Fewer Resources, More Output
RPA software reduces operating costs and increases throughput.
Speed to Value
On average, projects see 15-month payback with a 229% ROI, per Forrester.
Types of Robotic Process Automation
Robotic Process Automations has evolved with time. All types of RPA promote cost savings, increased performance and error reduction. Modern technology plays an important role in the evolution of RPA, from cloud auto-scaling and load balancing to using AI for automating judgments in tasks.
The most common type of RPA is Assisted RPA. This is when automation can perform tasks and activities on a person’s desktop, laptop, etc. A perfect example of this would be recording a function on RPA software to perform a calculation, query, or even cut and paste on-demand. The user would play back the function as needed to simplify routines and increase productivity.
This type of RPA is also referred to as RPA 1.0 and is practical only when users have the ability to invoke the RPA themselves on-demand. Although assisted RPA will improve user performance, it is not typically practiced for business process automation at enterprise scale.
Automation that can run without users and can run at any time (on a schedule) is called Unassisted RPA. In this type of RPA, referred to as RPA 2.0, the software is deployed on one to multiple servers for scale. It does not require user interaction and is used to automate an end-to-end business or IT process. Dashboards are commonly used to orchestrate tasks and monitor performance. The development of this RPA requires precision, keeping in mind there is no human interaction throughout this process.
The newest of RPA types is referred to as Hyperautomation. Hyperautomation uses RPA and Artificial Intelligence technologies like Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing to automate tasks that involve decision making or processing structured or unstructured data. Advance analytic technology is used to mine data, process structured or unstructured data, analyze text, predict and prescribe analytics technology.
Determining the Best Candidate for Automation
Some typical candidate processes ideal for investing in Robotic Process Automation include:
Swivel chair process for data exchange between systems and processes – especially pre-API legacy applications requiring greenscreen (or other dated interface) user interactions
Standardizing data across disparate systems / processes – data cleansing, association, and manipulation
Quality Control checks – validating data meets known criteria prior to proceeding to the next step of a key organizational process
Text analytics / document tagging to digitized formats or document processing
Regina Rider is a Director of Client Success with more than 20 years of experience leading operational and technical teams to deliver transformative solutions for clients in the communications, manufacturing, and financial industries.
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