Intelligent automation is boosted by the growing demand to digitize and automate business processes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic requires rapid workplace transformation.

More organizations will want to seize this opportunity to modernize their business processes and increase their digital capabilities.

In this whitepaper, you'll learn more about the explosion of automation in recent times and how your organization can succeed with implementing robotic process automation.

The rapid growth of intelligent automation

The rapid wave of automation technologies will change the way businesses function and what digital capabilities will prove valuable in the near future.

Intelligent automation (IA) comprises of artificial intelligence (AI), process orchestration, and robotic process automation (RPA).

IA ranges from automating repetitive and straightforward processes to performing specific and high complex functions. These are tasks that human beings may find difficult or even impossible to complete.

The primary reason for the explosion of the RPA industry since 2017 is because it works!

From a $250 million market cap in 2017, it is predicted to be worth at least $4.3 billion by 2022. Experts also forecast that robotic process automation will be nearly universal by the year 2022.

According to Gartner, RPA software spending is on the increase with banks, insurance companies, energy, utilities, and telecommunications companies as leading adopters.

Leslie Willcocks, a professor of technology at the London School of Economics' department of management, has this to say: "the relationship between technology and people has to change in the future for the better, and robotic process automation is one of the great tools to enable that change."

What is RPA?

RPA is one of the leading cognitive technologies. It can do most human repetitive tasks, accelerate automation efforts, and cut operational expenses of running businesses.

RPA is the technology that employs the use of the digital workforce along with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities to execute high-volume repeated tasks that previously required human operations.

It is a form of automation that sticks to the front-end of the system and carries out tasks without having to move to the back-end. It can log into surface applications on schedule, input data, perform calculations, complete predefined tasks, and then log out once done.

It is the application of technology, governed by business logic and structured inputs, aimed at automating business processes for seamless operation.

RPA tools employ the user interface to capture data and manipulate applications just like human beings would do. RPA software helps to interpret, trigger responses, and communicate with other systems to execute high-volume repetitive tasks.

Since it makes use of machine learning (ML) techniques to learn the basics of human action in the visual interface, RPA technology is a smart alternative in business automation. RPA can also be used to automate tedious tasks that people don't usually like doing. It targets high-volume, repetitive, rote, tedious, and time-consuming tasks.

The evolution of RPA is to eliminate widened gaps in workflows or processes to ensure increased employee productivity, improvements in process efficiency, and superior accuracy.

Within the last few months, many companies are parked during the COVID-19 pandemic. And others are accelerating and moving at hyper-speed due to the power of fast-track automation of business processes. Robotic process automation has, therefore, become a viable tool to accelerate digital transformation. Most experts strongly believe that the adoption and deployment of RPA in organizations will be the new drive of digital transformation efforts.

Why should your organization care about RPA?

Robotic process optimization is not hype, but a significant evolution that relies on proven and mature technology. According to 2017 HfS Research, 38% of insurance companies, 30% of energy and utilities, 24% of banking and financial services companies, 36% of retail and hospitality companies, and 28% of manufacturing and CPG companies have already started adopting RPA because of its cost, speed, accuracy, smartness, scalability, simplification and unlimited attention spans.

RPA also delivers a high return on investment of about 30 to 200 percent in the first year through increased employee productivity, improvements in organizational process efficiency, built-in analytics, and superior accuracy.

RPA, as a cognitive technology, mimics the activity of humans to carry out specific tasks within a business process. It can perform routine tasks more quickly, accurately, and tirelessly than human beings. It frees up employees to focus on important tasks that require human intervention and emotional intelligence, accurate judgment, quick reasoning, and one-on-one interaction with customers.

All these and more account for the keen and trending interest in RPA in recent times. Most times, RPA is an excellent alternative to conventional practices.

Having seen why your organization should care about RPA, let's quickly take a look at the benefits of RPA.

Benefits of robotic process automation

  • Robotic process automation, as a tool, can cut costs for financial and telco firms by up to 75% through the enablement of error-free transactions and thereby leading to increased employee productivity and ROI.
  • It increases the speed of business processes through automation. For instance, RPA has continued to emerge as a valuable tool for financial operations, which requires precision in workflow processes. Examples of finance functions that can be automated via robotic process automation include financial analysis, expense management, accounting and bookkeeping, ongoing P&L tracking, invoice and bank statement reconciliation, and data management.
  • It allows employees to focus on higher value-added activities to improve both business results and employee satisfaction.
  • It increases the quality of data, reduces compliance risks, and simplifies audits since RPA workers leave digital footprints of all their activities.
  • RPA helps organizations to conduct their businesses 24/7. It is time and location independent. Robotic process automation eliminates gaps in workflows or processes that often arise from human or geographical limitations.
  • It is easily scalable. A digital workforce can be as big or as small as needed; more digital robots can be added when the need arises.

Deployment of intelligent automation during Coronavirus pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of applications have been deployed to identify patterns from big data, supporting the health systems, to control the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

AI also assisted in radiology technologies, speeding the diagnosis of large numbers of patients with the novel Coronavirus.

Many automation applications and tools have been deployed to date. These are just a few among numerous ways of how AI and automation were used to solve the crisis created by the pandemic.

It's quite clear that the pandemic pushed and will continue to promote the improvement and further development of AI and automation, from their core-tech to their applications.

Seven crucial steps to succeed with RPA deployment

So, what are the necessary prerequisites to succeed with implementing robotic process automation?

Here are seven crucial, but often overlooked steps you need to take for successful RPA deployment:

1. Adjust your thinking about RPA

Every organization aims to enhance the productivity of employees. RPA implementation, done right, will help you increase productivity and your business ROI at the same time.

Success with robotic process automation (RPA) starts with adjusting your thinking and orientation. It also revolves around how you determine your processes after you clearly:

  • Understand that technology alone isn't the solution
  • Decide how you will involve and communicate with your team
  • Clarify where to start the automation process
  • Determine the metrics to evaluate deployment success

2. Evaluate the outcomes

RPA will only be a success when there is a proper evaluation before its deployment. RPA goes beyond the mere installation of software to reduce the cost of labor. The goal of RPA is to ensure the smooth and seamless running of specific business processes.

Before you get your organization started with RPA, it's crucial to thoroughly think about the goals and outcomes you want to achieve, not just about the process to be automated.

John O'Brien, the Research Director of RPA customer experience at HfS Research, remarks that "RPA can be a highly useful tool to help organizations looking to digitize legacy systems and processes

For instance, Business Wire reports how Scandinavian Logistics Partners AB (Scanlog), a fast-growing logistics company specializing in international transports, embraced robotic process automation (RPA) to transform its order booking process.

The RPA deployment resulted in drastically reducing the average handling time (AHT) for each customer order from 4 minutes to just 20 seconds. Within two months, Scanlog achieved a 15% return on investment (ROI) by automating only one process.

This is another among several success stories of how RPA is a useful tool and how organizations are leveraging the benefits of RPA to transform their business processes to achieve significant results.

3. Identify easy to automate processes

This step will help your organization to set clear expectations before the beginning of the RPA project. It also involves identifying the needed tools and what the tools will do. It will help to know how your organization can deploy robots to support the automation process of the evolving digital transformation.

It is advisable to focus on customer experience, journeys, and outcomes right from the beginning for this to become a reality.

RPA tools help to automate routine activities from anywhere within the workflow. There is just the need to streamline and define how the process begins and ends.

Every business and industry has different functions and a variety of processes.

RPA implementation helps different sectors like banking and telecommunications to deliver outstanding services to customers while cutting operational costs at the same time and reducing associated risks of regulatory compliance through intelligent automation solutions.

For instance, RPA technology can be implemented in the telecommunication industry to digitize emails and invoices, thereby saving valuable time for employees to focus their attention on better revenue generation strategies.

Robotic process automation also helps in automating the process of customer onboarding and off-boarding in the banking industry. Through RPA, financial service providers can maintain robust clarity for all customers and their information.

It saves banking and financial firms valuable time. With RPA implementation, you can verify the new account applicant's identity faster and reduce the opening time for new accounts by 90%.

Therefore, it's not so easy to get a one-size-fit-all list of processes to automate for your specific industry and business functions. It is important to create a specific list of processes your organization can automate in your business function.

4. Determine the duration of RPA deployment

RPA deployment usually takes different time to configure, test, and launch process automation into production. The overall timeline to manage and deliver RPA differs for each business depending on the complexity of the process, team size, and level of automation required.

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