RPA : an industry perspective

 

“Businesses across the board are realizing that RPA is the next significant digital transformation that will enable employees to stop working on repetitive tasks.”

1.     Introduction

To run a business with high efficiency and low cost has always been a challenge. Complex processes, fast changing regulatory requirements, labor-intensive activities, unmanageable volumes, faster time to market – these are some of the key challenges faced by most financial institutions. Operational complexities have reached a state where they can no longer be ignored. To succeed in this complex environment, automation is the key – automation that is more secure, efficient, and scalable. Robotic process automation (RPA) perfectly fits the requirement of process automation because it promises solutions at low cost, minimal disruption, short payback period, and high efficiency.

Businesses across the board are realizing that RPA is the next significant digital transformation that will enable employees to stop working on repetitive tasks. RPA allows employees to concentrate on more value-added initiatives, which are imperative for the bottom line of the firm. This paper aims to provide an industry perspective on RPA and how it is revolutionizing the way companies operate today.

2.   The automation revolution –Creating a digital enterprise

“By 2025, automation technology innovations will assume control over tasks that are now performed by 250 million knowledge workers worldwide, freeing the remaining work force to devote their time and energy to more creative pursuits”  – McKinsey & Company

Throughout history, new technologies have changed the shape of the labor market – both destroying and creating jobs in a process that the economist Joseph Schumpeter described as “creative destruction.” As the maturity of automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive techniques increases, we find ourselves on the cusp of another wave of creative destruction.

According to McKinsey & Company, by 2025, automation technology innovations will assume control over tasks that are now performed by 250 million knowledge workers worldwide, thus freeing the remaining work force to devote their time and energy to more creative pursuits.

The concept of automation can be viewed in a negative light. In the press and analyst community particularly, we often see stories about “predicted job losses” as the “robots take over.” The industry view is more optimistic. Automation is not as simple as replacing man with machine; it is about businesses using advancements in technology to optimize their operations and orchestrate new and innovative ways of working.

2.1   Becoming a digital enterprise

“Automation is a key enabler of the digital enterprise – and your future success”

A primary goal for businesses today is to become a “digital enterprise,” so they can enter new markets, adopt new channels, and compete with new, agile competitors. However, the legacy of old systems, manual processes, and analog thinking can be a barrier. Furthermore, there can be a reluctance to embrace digital change due to a lack of awareness of what the full transformation will entail. Automation is a key enabler of the digital enterprise.

Automation should be viewed positively in terms of what it will enable:

  • Transformation of processes to compete with digital competitors
  • Redirection of resources from repetitive tasks toward higher-value business activity
  • More creative and fulfilling job roles for employees
  • Agility, competitiveness, and new ideas throughout the business.

3.    The spectrum of smart process automation – An incremental journey

“By 2018, 30% of our interactions with technology will be through conversations with smart robots”

                —     Gartner

The spectrum of smart of automation is unnleashing a plethora of opportunities for organizations to on-board their digital journey. With the progressive evolution of automation technology, Gartner predicts that by 2018, 30% of our interactions with technology will be through “conversations” with smart robots.The subsequent sections discuss each stage of process automation in detail, with an illustrative example. The example will highlight how incremental progress in process automation has paved the way for a better future and increased addition of business value.

3.1        RPA 1.0 – The era of desktop automation

Desktop automation was the early stages of automation when users automated fragmented tasks using various techniques, such as VBA, Macro, command script, power shell, and message handling with Win32, to ease their workloads.

Illustrative process: account balance inquiry

Key steps involved: 1. Receive email request à 2. Fetch account number à 3. Validate client à 4. Retrieve account balances à 5. Send response in a pdf to client.Input type: Email request from clients (unstructured data)

Automation scopeStep 4. Operator uses a macro/shell script that can fetch balance details from source system for the requested account number. The remaining steps are carried out manually.

3.2        RPA 2.0 – The era of robotic process automation

“The global RPA market is expected to reach USD 4.98 billion by 2020, with a CAGR of 60.50%”

RPA is the latest wave of software automation to reach maturity. The global RPA market is expected to reach USD 4.98 billion by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 60.50%.

RPA is the automation of business processes through the implementation of set of software technologies that work as a “virtual worker” to manipulate existing application software in the same way that a person completes a process. These “virtual workers” offer improved business efficiency, data security, and effectiveness by mimicking human actions and automating repetitive tasks across multiple business applications without altering existing infrastructure and systems. Enhanced productivity, reduced cycle time, and improved accuracy and compliance are some of the benefits of this technology.

RPA capabilities can be deployed to address a wide range of operational challenges, from improving agents’ handling time to automating of end-to-end processes. Typically, RPA provides two modes of deployment.

4. Conclusion

Today CxOs have understood that to stay competitive businesses must adopt processes that are streamlined, optimal and automated. In short “Automation First” has become a key strategy to meet organization goals. Virtual workforce has become a faster way of delivering business value. Apptad’s strong professional expertise in RPA is seamlessly helping global customers meet their aspirations.