Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an emerging intelligent technology for process improvement. In the past it was known as Machine Learning, but it has now evolved into a brand new science.
The advent of robotic process automation (RPA) has been touted as the next big thing in business, with many companies realising that they can no longer afford to wait, leading to an investment in RPA.
RPA has been a hot topic for many years, but only recently have organisations started to take it seriously. It has helped companies like Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Apple bring in additional revenue streams by giving them new business opportunities and providing superior customer service capabilities through its RPA application methods.
2. What is Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic process automation is a technology driven, highly flexible and cost-effective method for automating the work of many different business processes. RPA is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) that enables technology to perform repetitive tasks by entering data or performing actions that, up until now, have typically been carried out by humans.
It is an intelligent technology that automates all the manual, time-consuming and error-prone aspects of business processes. The acronym RPA can be used to describe several different technologies and systems, but they are all very similar in their basic purpose and ultimately look to automate tasks. RPA is a major driver of change in the IT industry, and many organisations have implemented RPA in their business processes as a result.
The main benefits of adopting RPA solutions are threefold:
Increase quality control
Improve customer satisfaction
A key advantage of RPA is that it can reduce costs by eliminating repetitive task and repetitive work, thereby freeing up time for higher value work. RPA also makes it easier for employees to do their jobs, reducing stress and improving productivity. There are additionally many other secondary benefits such as eliminating human errors, and making working conditions safer.
The following outline the top ways in which RPA can benefit a company:
i. Robotic Process Automation saves cost & time
According to Gartner Research, the time and cost savings for businesses adopting RPA is around 15-20%. This includes not only the human labour hours but also the time and resources needed to train newly hired employees. This is a significant cost saving for organisations, and in the current environment of Lean processes, is a massive step-forward. However before implementing an RPA project it can be hard to quantify the exact savings that will be expected over a period of years. And this uncertainty can make it difficult to secure investment.
ii. RPA reduces risks & improves security
Because RPA involves no human interaction, it’s less likely to make mistakes than humans. As a result, RPA is able to handle any task with more precision and efficiency. One factor to bear in mind though, is that if the robot does start making mistakes it may take a while to notice. Stringent monitoring is essential to ensure robot malfunctions don't occur.
iii. Robotic Process Automation can be used to implement complex/advanced tasks
Robotic process automation can be used to implement tasks that are very difficult to execute by hand. Newer RPA tools are capable of handling tasks including:
a. Data collection and cleansing
b. Data analysis and reporting on the results
c. Data integration and transformation
iv. Robotic Process Automation allows multiple people to work on tasks at once
The use of robots can mean that a smaller workforce is required, as the robot can perform tasks which would otherwise be completed by many people. The advantage of RPA is that if the different operations in a business are synched properly, there is no danger of one operation waiting on another before it can start. The start and end points of each process can be precisely programmed which leads to a very lean process.
v. Automation allows companies to focus on their core competencies
Automation allows companies to focus on their core competencies and leaves the completion of easier tasks to machines. When a business can free-up people's time it gives employees the opportunity to concentrate on the more creative and visionary tasks, which can often be neglected when you are busy.
4. What are the things to be aware of?
The benefits of robotic process automation (RPA) systems have been well documented. They increase productivity, cut costs and lead to better customer service and higher customer satisfaction. And yet, few businesses are using it as a full-time system for their entire operations.
There may be many reasons for this, but the most likely are:
1) Expecting too much from RPA systems without adequate training – businesses often expect RPA to be a “magic bullet” solution that will allow them to operate at a lower cost than ever before.
2) Worrying about technology integration – when a new system is installed, it can be difficult to integrate it with all the existing disparate systems. This is a major barrier to progress but can of course be overcome by acknowledging this risk and planning the project accordingly.
3) Not sure how RPA can improve their business – businesses do not have enough data on their operations to know if RPA can help their processes in the right way. This can make it difficult to secure investment for automation projects. Understandably if you are unable to predict the scale of improvement that RPA can bring, there will be reluctance to spend any money on it.
4) Misreading the value of RPA – the value of RPA systems is commonly overstated, leading organisations to overpay just because they think people will use it more than ever before. Overstating benefits is a frequent misjudgement of many projects, and so realistic expectations should be applied to any RPA design.
5) Inability to implement RPA – many businesses do not have the skills needed to effectively implement automation solutions from third party vendors regardless of what type of RPA system they are installing.
However, all these barriers above can be overcome and should not stop businesses from exploring the opportunities of implementing an RPA programme.
5. What companies use RPA
Many large companies from all different industries have implemented RPA operations.
A couple of examples are:
1. The large banks and financial institutions are using RPA to automate the processing of transactions. This has resulted in increased accuracy and reduced processing times.
2. Retailers are using RPA to automate the ordering and fulfilment process. This has led to increased efficiency and reduced costs.
3. Manufacturing companies are using RPA to automate the production process. This has created improved quality and faster production times.
And more specifically, some of the most well-known companies in the world are already using, or exploring, the potential of robotic process automation. Amazon, Google and Facebook are great believers in the benefits of RPA, and here are a few ways they have been using automation:
Since Amazon's early days, the company has been a pioneer in automation. In fact, Amazon's first patent was for a machine that could pick and choose items from shelves to fulfil customer orders. This early investment in automation has helped Amazon become the ecommerce giant it is today.
More recently, Amazon has been using robotic process automation to automate back-office tasks such as invoice processing, order fulfilment & tracking and product returns.
Amazon has found that RPA can be an effective way to improve efficiency and reduce costs. For example, the company saved $1 million per year by automating invoice processing. And by automating order fulfilment, Amazon was able to reduce shipping costs by 20%.
Since it was founded in 1998, Google has been at the forefront of developing and using automation technologies. The company’s early adoption of robotic process automation has played a major role in its success.
Google first began using RPA in 2006, when it deployed software to automate the task of verifying employee email addresses. The software was able to automatically extract email addresses from incoming messages and compare them against a list of authorised addresses. This saved the company time and money by eliminating the need for human employees to perform this task.
In subsequent years, Google has continued to use RPA to automate a wide variety of tasks, including data entry, billing, customer support, and recruitment. By automating these tasks, Google has been able to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
Facebook is using RPA to help it manage its massive user data sets. This automation has allowed the company to speed up data processing by up to 70%.
Facebook is also using Robotic Process Automation to manage and automate its administrative processes. Facebook has been able to use RPA to improve its customer service process by automating tasks such as account creation and password resets. By automating these tasks, Facebook has significantly reduced the amount of time it takes to complete these processes, as well as improving accuracy.
As of late, a lot has been said about the potential of Robotic Process Automation in a business environment. The boom in the use of RPA for complex tasks such as high volume data analytics, customer support, and sales & marketing is becoming more widespread.
In conclusion, there are many advantages for a company using RPA. It can lead to increased efficiency, accuracy, and productivity in the workplace. Additionally, it can help companies save money and time, as well as improving customer service. As a result, more and more businesses are beginning to adopt RPA technology into their operations, and as a result, see significant improvements.