Why the case for Robotic Process Automation is stronger than ever in the new Normal
By Dev Hurkoo, Managing Director, Rogers Capital – Technology
Automation initiatives that reduce human workload and interaction with systems through automation of repeatable, structured and rule-based processes have been gaining traction for the past 18 months. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the focus on such efforts.
Indeed, a survey carried out by Enterprise Technology Research (ETR) in April 2020, reveals that Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are emerging as the winning technologies in the new Normal, with the adoption rate being higher than video conferencing (despite the surge in work from home), greater than cloud computing and mobile device management. Deloitte highlights that RPA will achieve “near universal adoption” in the next 5 years and according to a Gartner report, by 2024, organisations will lower operational costs by 30% by combining hyperautomation technologies with redesigned operational processes.
Through this article, we seek to explain what RPA means, and what is powering the exponential growth of this technology.
Simply put, RPA is the technology that enables the configuring of a computer software or a “robot” (often referred to as a “bot”) to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting within digital systems for executing a business process. RPA bots utilise the user interface for capturing data and manipulate applications similar to humans; such bots are capable of interpreting, triggering responses, and communicating with other systems in order to perform a wide variety of repetitive tasks. The bot is thus like a “digital worker” that “acts like a person”. It replaces the human actions on the computer systems, thereby helping to reduce the human workload on repetitive and non-value added tasks.
When combined with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, the bots are able to learn and adapt to data in real-time, thus enabling intelligent data-driven automation to be carried out instead of only rules-driven automation. This allows the “digital worker”, to not only “act like a person” but also to “think like a person” and to “analyse like a person”, unleashing huge possibilities for maximising efficiency, productivity gains and cost reductions within organisations as well as significantly enhancing customer experience.
To take an industry-specific case, in the insurance sector for instance, the processing of claims is a very good example of a key and critical activity for an insurance company where intelligent automation will, without any doubt, bring huge benefits in terms of cost reduction, processing time, error-free operations, and fast service to the end-customer.
Moreover, to take the example of a support function such as Finance and Accounting in an organisation, a significant number of proven use cases of intelligent RPA automation already exist in various activities, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, accounting, treasury operations, etc. In the case of accounts payable for instance, most of the tasks may be automated from extraction of relevant data from invoices, reconciliation with purchase orders, data entry into the ERP system till payment of invoices and generation of reports. With work from home now becoming part of the new Normal, the automated process may also include an online approval workflow whereby approvals for payments are provided by authorised users remotely from their home, without the need to log into the ERP system or to be physically present in the office.
Finally, across all businesses, the potential need for adoption of software robots to manage routine work carried out by temporary or seasonal staff, or for staff bursts that are required by regulatory spikes, new product launches, or some new operation being introduced, is also causing the RPA market to expand.
Key benefits for adopting an RPA solution
To elaborate, the key benefits of RPA solutions are as follows:
- Productivity gain and more effective use of staff resources: RPA automates many key business tasks, freeing up company staff to focus on higher value tasks that truly require human judgment.
- Lower operational risk: By eliminating human errors induced by issues such as tiredness, lack of knowledge, or inconsistency in approach between different users, RPA reduces the rate of errors thereby providing a lower level of operational risk.
- Cost reduction: The reduction in processing errors as well as higher efficiency and productivity gains arising from automation of processes may lead to a reduction in costs. The fact that an RPA bot can work on 24/7/365 basis and can automate more than one process may also contribute to major cost savings.
- Better customer experience: With RPA automation, processes are run faster and more efficiently than with human staff. Customer requests are thus handled much faster leading to enhanced customer experience and overall higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Enhanced insights and analytics: With RPA bots, there are lesser risks of data leakages, obsolete information, and incorrect analytics. Also, intelligent RPA, powered by AI and ML, widens the scope of data collection and analysis, leading to better and more comprehensive insights.
- Leveraging on existing IT systems to enhance performance: One of the biggest advantages of using a virtual workforce, or an RPA bot, is that it does not require you to replace your existing systems. Instead, RPA can leverage your existing systems, the same way a human employee can.
Ultimately, it is important to acknowledge that the world of work is moving faster and asking for more agility than ever before. The reach of RPA solutions is wide and diverse – be it by industry, by function or by technology usage. In essence, RPA implementations are increasing in popularity due to the money and resources that RPA helps businesses to save over time.
Heightened importance of RPA solutions in the new Normal
In the pre-COVID world, workers would be empowered by RPA tools to create a new class of digital employee that can undertake the mind-numbing tasks that humans would rather not perform. Today, in the new Normal, this statement holds even more significance than it did in the past. A “digital worker” obviates the risk of virus transmission and allows businesses to carry out routine and repetitive processes without undue disruption, arising due to shortage of staff with social distancing at work or due to work from home constraints imposed by confinements and lockdowns.
As Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, rightly pointed out while sharing his thoughts on the new Normal, we are heading into a race to automate a world of remote everything and software will now shape pretty much every industry. This forward-looking statement highlights the need for speed, agility and accelerated digitalisation or transformation. Intelligent RPA may prove to be the right tool to move fast to respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bringing it home
As a key technology service provider in Mauritius and the region, Rogers Capital Technology has been implementing intelligent RPA solutions across various business functions and industry sectors such as our in-house finance and data centre and network monitoring operations as well as our solutions for the financial, insurance, hospitality, health and technology sectors. Our customers have seen tremendous gains in terms of operational efficiency and cost reduction with the transformation of manual processing activities into automated ones – accounts payables, claims processing, customer service and credit vetting being shining examples.
Rogers Capital Technology has a fully-fledged RPA capability with an in-house team of certified experts who deliver customer specific solutions. Our focus is mainly towards providing an end-to-end ecosystem encompassing much more than only RPA. From bot development to obtaining critical insights and delivering Intelligent RPA powered by AI and ML, the end result is a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as well as higher efficiency and benefits for enterprises compared to other solutions in the market.
It is then increasingly clear that digital is the way forward – and intelligent RPA is an increasingly important tool in an organisation’s journey towards digital transformation.