Robotic process automation (RPA) is a groundbreaking process automation technology that uses screen scraping including other technologies to perform repeatable and high-volume tasks that were previously required to be done by humans. Companies are excited about RPA as it is currently among the most popular artificial intelligence application areas allowing organizations with legacy systems to automate workflows. The excitement around RPA software is due to the fact that it makes zero mistakes, never sleeps and is less costly compared to an employee.
According to Grand View Research, the RPA market size is expected to expand to USD3.97 billion by 2025. Organizations in different sectors are increasingly challenged by the growing competition as a result of a technological shift as well as consumer preferences. The software bots improve efficiency in unimaginable rates and can work 24/7 annually on their assigned tasks making companies achieve accelerated productivity.
RPA is suddenly eye candy for many organizations and it is a perfect time for your company to leverage it as well before its capabilities become industry standard. Reputable companies such as Deloitte, IBM, Xerox, Vodaphone, and Dell among others are already using RPA tools to scale up their businesses. Companies that have repetitive tasks expect to enjoy up to 70% cost savings by implementing RPA successfully. Research also reveals that business will save up to $7 trillion due to RPA. The World’s top multinational companies have already embraced RPA. SMEs should consider joining in and adopting the technology early to gain an upper hand in the increasingly competitive global markets.
What is Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the technology that enables an individual to configure a ‘software bot’ or computer software to emulate human actions while interacting with digital systems to accomplish a business process. RPA is different from other business automation tools. Compared to traditional IT solutions, RPA helps companies to automate tasks at a fraction of costs and time previously encountered. RPA is also naturally nonintrusive hence causes no disruptions to the underlying systems.
Companies utilizing RPA enjoy compliance and cost-efficiency. As the fastest-growing segment of the worldwide enterprise software market, RPA has enabled firms to automate most of the mundane computer-based tasks and processes in the workplace. Think of logging into applications, moving files and folders, copying and pasting data, filling in forms, extracting structured and semi-structured data from documents, scraping browsers, and more as examples of tasks you can automate with RPA software.
Example of RPA in action:
Benefits of RPA Implementation
For many organizations, RPA is a complete game-changer. It helps them augment repetitive, error-prone and mundane clerical tasks. There are many good reasons for the success stories and the recent hype surrounding RPA. RPA robots are capable of mimicking many–if not most–human user actions performed on keyword and mouses.
Here are the real benefits of RPA:
- Business Model Benefits
Business owners are beginning to take notice of RPA and it continues to gain a lot of attention in the corporate world. With the software, you are guaranteed to enjoy these benefits among others.
- Better Accuracy
RPA software helps to improve efficiencies in the most manual tasks enabling the delivery of more accurate results and eventually reducing the impact of human error. RPA software is able to eliminate errors as a result of tiredness and lack of knowledge in humans leading to a lower level of operational risks.
- Improved Compliance
RPA allows recording of all steps for historical audibility. Data gaps are hence removed to ensure proactive recognition and management of any compliance issues. These RPA features enable organizations across various sectors to be more compliant to regulations within their industries.
- Fast Cost Savings
RPA tools are responsible for reducing business costs such as the cost of manpower. Besides, the tools do not compete with each other but rather compliment each other. Therefore, RPA workflow tools help each other to complete the processes required to eliminate staff and cut costs. Processing costs can often be reduced by 80% upon 12 months of implementation.
- Super Scalable RPA
is responsible for completing a massive amount of tasks in all businesses. More robots can be added quickly and with minimal financial resources based on an organization’s work flux and seasonality. Therefore RPA plays a vital role in scalability needs.
- Increased Speed & Productivity
RPA tools have a huge potential to eliminate repetitive manual and time-consuming processes. Besides, RPA tools are the best in increasing accuracy and quality hence a rise in the overall productivity. RPA utilizes bots to handle tasks accurately and effectively eliminating the high probability of human error that slows down productivity.
- Fast ROI
RPA allows your employees to focus on higher value-added activities that leads to improved business metrics. Depending on the business focus, such a benefit can impact the ROI of an organization. RPA also enables companies to collect more accurate and quality data on a wider scope. The data is beneficial to analytics leading to more accurate and reliable analyses that can be used to accurately forecasts sales, employee productivity and other metrics that affect the organization’s interests.
- Minimal Upfront Cost
Since RPA does not replace the existing IT systems, minimal upfront costs are incurred during its implementation. RPA is able to leverage your existing systems similar to a human employee. RPA does not need setting require setting up an API, saving businesses time and financial resources. Moreover, RPA tools come with Graphic User Interfaces that require less technical expertise hence easier to use.
- No Disruption or Changes to Underlying Systems
RPA does not involve disruption to underlying systems. This is unlike other traditional technology solutions that require extensive changes in order to be integrated across multiple applications. Robots work just as a person; across the existing applications making it different from other solutions out there.
- Better Accuracy
Benefits, Uses, and Future RPA Trends: https://soundcloud.com/fintalk/the-ai-workhorse-demystifying-robotic-process-automation
Companies Successfully Using RPA Solutions
- Deutsche Bank
RPA has taken over the manual and repetitive transactions of Deutsche Bank. According to Dean Mazbouudi, the company’s innovation manager, RPA has proven beneficial by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness for both back and mid-office processes. The organization has achieved from 30 to 70% automation in various areas. RPA has augmented the bank’s workforce leading to happier and more engaged employees.
- Vanguard Group
Vanguard Group is leveraging RPA technology on a massive scale bringing various benefits to the organization. John Marcante the CIO of the company is a witness of how RPA has quickly helped the organization to reach out to its millions of clients. They utilize roboadvisors within its asset management teams. At Vanguard, humans collaborate with software to help their clients prepare for their financial futures.
- Wal-Mart Inc.
Wal-Mart, one of the world’s largest retailers continues to redefine the industry by utilizing RPA. Wal-Mart is using RPA to automate most of its activities in the back office such as digitizing documents. RPA has also helped to improve its compliance as AI helps to scan all the audits. Ability to achieve approximately 80% accuracy using AI algorithms is a potential trigger for Wal-Mart to embrace automation.
Steps to Implement RPA within your Organization
Step 1. Select target business processes you wish to automate
The first step in RPA implementation is identifying the business processes to be automated. Processes that can benefit from automation are those that impede employees from pursuing judgment-based roles. Utilize a subject matter expert to help you identify processes that will yield great benefits when automated.
It is advisable to start with small and simple processes. Define every process to ensure faster implementation and error minimization. Pick processes that are annoying but do not demand human interventions at every stage.
Step 2. Determine if business processes you wish to automate are a good fit for RPA
The second phase of RPA implementation within a company involves determining business processes that are the best fit for RPA. In order to fully benefit from RPA, the right processes for automation will be the ones that will yield the greatest benefits to the organization. The processes should also be simple or easy to automate using RPA.
Business processes that can easily be automated with RPA tend to be:
- Repetitive: Ideal processes for automation are the repetitive tasks within an organization such as copy and paste, filling forms, etc.
- Rules-based: The perfect processes to be automated are those that can be described by certain rules. RPA bots require programming and hence the rules of a process must be able to be programmed for a task to qualify for automation.
- Requires little human intervention or creative thinking: Bots can only perform tasks that have clear-cut rules. Hence, identify tasks within your organization that requires little human judgment or are not complex for automation.
Step 3. Select an RPA Tool
There are numerous RPA tools out there to choose from. It is important to choose RPA tools that are leading in the market and that have a proven track record of success. It is simple and easier to select an RPA tool at this stage as you have already defined your objectives and processes for automation. Therefore, select an RPA tool based on whether your needs are simple or are more advanced comprising high-value tasks. Some of the effective tools include;
- Blue Prism
- Automation Anywhere
- Nice Systems
- Inflectra Rapise
Here is a detailed criterion for selecting the best RPA tool for your business.
Step 4. Implement in-house or hire an RPA Agency
In the third step, you should choose the appropriate RPA solution for the company. You may choose between building an in-house solution or hiring an RPA agency. RPA adoption is growing rapidly and agencies such as C9 Digital are providing RPA solutions for organizations of all shapes and sizes. You can visit our company’s RPA services page to learn more about how we can setup a RPA solution for your organization.
Step 5. Monitor & Improve
In this final stage, a bot is employed for execution. It is a critical stage and monitoring and improvements are carried out here. Use a continuous monitoring program to track the bot’s performance and its impact.
Innovations within the RPA industry
RPA tools have been recognized as one of the most disruptive forces facing organizations today. Some of the innovations being witnessed in the RPA industry include the following;
- Cognitive Bots
- Machine Learning
Cognitive automation allows RPA to use AI and machine learning to expand the scope of tasks it can automate. Machine learning solutions have the ability to replace human judgment with machine judgment in processes that cannot be formulated as traditional rules.
- Speech Recognition
Humans are looking forward to personal assistance from AI machines that can recognize and understand speech. Everyone was fascinated by the technologies such as Iron Man’s Jarvis and humans are seeking to bring this dream into reality. Facebook already has a AI-powered platform M, which is a virtual assistant powered by cognitive intelligence. The virtual assistant is expected to learn, understand and remember complex questions. In the near future, there will be chatbots that you can talk to that then execute other RPA bots.
- Natural Language Processing
Simply referred to as NLP, natural language processing is a technology that enables bots or computers to understand human’s natural language. NLP is the driving force behind applications such as Google Translate, Grammarly, Word processors, Interactive Voice Response and personal assistant applications such as Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. NLP also enables the processing of unstructured data into formats that RPA bots can use.
- Machine Learning
VIDEO: How cognitive bot are transforming businesses
- Examples of Cognitive Bots
VIDEO: How cognitive bots can handle unstructured data and communicate with other cognitive bots.
Cognitive bots are robots that can learn from experience, human teachers or on their own hence the capability to effectively deal with their environment. Cognitive bots can understand unstructured data, human communications and draw conclusions based on data. Cognitive automation builds on the qualities of RPA introducing a new level of sophistication and bringing more benefits to businesses.
VIDEO: How auto manufacturers are harnessing vehicle safety data with analytics
- Case Study: Cognitive Technologies at Siemens
Siemens is already leveraging cognitive technologies to drive RPA innovation. By equipping the company’s digital workforce of software robots with cognitive capabilities, the organization has realized true efficiency and notable gains. Cognitive RPA enable Siemens to accomplish end-to-end automation of some of their processes such as the management of invoice payment queries leading to the reduced manual effort, 24/7 availability and faster response times!
- Case study: Utilizing Unstructured Data with IQ Bot at Global Financial Powerhouse
Automation Anywhere is an RPA tools vendor that acknowledges adding cognitive capabilities to RPA as the biggest trend in business process automation. The vendor has developed the IQ Bot which closes the gap between RPA and cognitive platforms. Global Financial Powerhouse has benefited from cognitive bots capabilities by up to 92% in certain scenarios! By utilizing the cognitive technologies from Automation Anywhere, the company enjoys more transparency helping it to meet compliance issues, as well as utilize its unstructured data to make strategic decisions.
- Case Study: Cogito at Humana and MetLife
Cogito Discover is another cognitive bot. It has been applied across various industries. Cogito, an artificial intelligence program, has revolutionized dozens of call centers in the U.S. Major clients are Humana and MetLife. The bot help customer service employees to communicate more clearly with callers, increasing the overall performance of the employees. Cogito directs employees at the call centers, unlike the normal and boring bots that must be told what to do.
Downside of RPA
Regardless of RPA being the latest craze in the corporate world, it has its downsides too.
- The Complexity of Implementation
Innovation in RPA technology is still young and as such, implementation challenges in the real-world environment may lead to unwanted outcomes. Most RPA projects up to 50% based on a recent study may fail initially. The tools may be promising at the start but fail to deliver tangible business results eventually. Fortunately, implementation teams such as C9 Digital can help you to dodge the mistakes and enjoy the full benefits of RPA technologies.
- Displacement of jobs
Automation is a threat to employment as it leads to massive job displacement. RPA is hence a double-edged sword since it leads to the loss of jobs for employees whose tasks are built on the repetitive tasks. Therefore, as with any automation technology, RPA has the potential to eliminate jobs.
Automation technologies are here to stay. Regardless of the downsides, technologies such as cognitive RPA tools will augment the workforce and enable businesses to reach greater heights. Moreover, RPA benefits outweigh the negatives. If you have not considered RPA, the best time is now. Incorporating RPA into the business processes helps businesses to stay ahead of the competition.