Robotic process automation (RPA) is an advanced method of doing business. More chief information officers are turning to RPA to help eliminate repetitive and tedious tasks, freeing workers to focus on higher-order activities. However, RPA must be carefully planned for any company that intends to take advantage of its benefits.

Adrian Jones explores the benefits of RPA for business, naming some of the advantages of using this technology to reimagine your workload.

What Is RPA?

RPA is an emerging technology practice that streamlines enterprise operations and reduces costs. Using RPA, businesses can automate rule-based processes, enabling employees to complete higher-value work and better serve their customers. RPA is a partial step toward intelligent optimization, leveraging machine learning, and artificial intelligence tools.

Using RPA, a company can configure a software “robot” to process transactions, manipulate data, trigger responses, and communicate with other digital systems. RPA can range from simple tasks like automating an email response to complex activities like deploying a large number of bots programmed to automate other activities.

RPA is a software-based method of enhancing business practices without increasing employee headcount or costs. 

What Are The Benefits Of RPA?

RPA allows organizations to automate mundane tasks in an effort to reduce the cost of staffing and eliminate human error. An excellent example of RPA is a bank that deployed a large number of bots to run processes, handling millions of requests per year. The bank was able to add the capacity equivalent of 200 full-time employees at a 70 percent lower cost than hiring human workers, all while freeing up their existing workforce to focus on more strategic tasks.

RPA bots are low-cost and easy to implement. They require no custom software or deep systems integration. These characteristics make bots a good fit for businesses of all sizes, which are trying to deal with increasing volumes of data and customer contacts. By automating low-value tasks, a company using RPA can lower its human workload while satisfying customers with quick and accurate responses to their inquiries.

A 2017 study by Deloitte UK found that RPA adoption requires starting with bold ambition. Going forward, the goal is to build strong foundations, making sure that employees are engaged with the project and interested in letting it help them. These projects need to be scalable and capable of taking on projects quickly.

RPA and Other Advanced Technologies

Businesses can make the most of their RPA automation by including other cognitive technologies like machine learning, speech recognition, and natural language processing. This enables data to be processed in an organic manner.

Even the most complex processes may be automated, creating a value chain called intelligent automation (IA). IA is a goal of many companies that are already leveraging their data for growth and development.

Reducing Employee Costs

One arena where RPA technologies are poised to make a difference is in business shared-service centers. The number of employees required in a shared-service site may be lowered by as much as 65 percent if RPA is put into play. Up to nine percent of knowledge workers may be impacted by the increased use of RPA and other assisted technologies. However, workforce retraining will help these workers find positions in other areas.

Problems With RPA

As with any emerging technology, RPA projects go through a steep learning curve. However, these projects will undoubtedly be more successful as time goes on. Some CIOs resist the installation of new bots. Installing as many bots and intelligent digital workers as are needed can be a lengthy and somewhat complex project. If a change is made to the data requirements in any one of the databases, a ripple effect of errors may occur. Today, most deployed bots need regular supervision to perform to their desired results.

It should also be noted that task automation of 30 percent does not necessarily equal a 30 percent cost reduction. Staffing costs can be affected by the need for trained personnel to manage the bots and address any problems that arise.

Companies Using RPA

Companies that use RPA technologies in the present include all large enterprises such as Ernst & Young, AT&T, Deutsche Bank, Walmart, and Walgreens. These companies show that a wide range of industries can make use of RPA in their daily work.

In practice, these bots are able to answer questions and retrieve information from documents. They are able to automate expense management tasks, integrating RPA into the basic workflow of a company.

Advancing With RPA

RPA experts like Adrian Jones understand the importance of this new technology. With RPA, companies can automate tedious and error-prone tasks while freeing their employees’ time to deal with more pressing issues. Companies that want to take advantage of the growing potential of RPA should consult with a trusted professional to make sure their systems work as well as possible.

The technology is still young, so it is understandable that there could be some setbacks along the path. Investing in RPA may mean cost savings as well as a more productive workforce.