The enterprise world has come to a tricky junction, where there are potentially two wide paths: take the route of widespread automation in a bid to counter flattening growth, or take a cautious approach by revamping internal processes, balancing process automation & employee productivity.
The time to decide for enterprises is now. Businesses are already integrating robust strategies, and are seeing an uptick of 30-70% in overall performance across their functions.
From our experience as mainstream RPA vendors, let’s dive into how our takeaways can help you make informed decisions to get started in process and workflow automation:
1. Machines Can Blow Away Delivery Benchmarks for Repetitive Tasks
This point is overstated, but it makes the top of our list of learnings because it is being deployed in organizations across the world at a scorching rate. RPA vendors are making a killer run, some providing generic and some providing bespoke solutions.
The whole RPA market is expected to grow at a rate of 33.3% from 2017-23, with the BFSI sector taking up the largest chunk.
Large firms like Credit Suisse are using process automation to collate data and deliver reports that come under ‘repetitive tasks,’ for products like mutual funds, in unprecedented ways. RPA is also disrupting the BPO & BPM sector, the latter now being rechristened as Digital Process Automation.
2. But RPA Systems Must Be Comprehensively Configured
Yes, it’s time to talk about the checks and balances that must be considered as well. Although the rhetoric of RPA is being pushed as the all-encompassing solution that can uncover valuable hours associates lose in executing rule-based tasks in an enterprise, there are always exceptions and regulatory processes that cannot be ignored.
We are at a point where configuration must be done by experts of processes, but all exceptions must be accounted during the workflow input as well, or the automation execution could be interrupted.
Hopefully, once artificial intelligence-esque technologies can be leveraged to train the systems about anomalies, the onboarding of these systems can be smoother. But emerging vendors are already focusing on converging the technology stack, to mitigate such contingencies.
3. Humans were Primarily Meant For Cognitive, Intellectual Tasks
Scientific tests done over decades by professors from MIT and other universities prove how our current model of work and rewards are based on archaic and unscientific models. It shows that when creative, right-brain tasks were incentivized with a carrot-and-stick approach, it led to a drop in performance, vis-à-vis the opposite for left-brain, mundane tasks.
Humans were always meant to indulge in cognitive tasks that brought out their innovation for vital business challenges. We’re at the right point in history where process automation systems by RPA Vendors are able to replace routine processes, and augment the workforce to spend time on pressing issues that require human judgement.
4. Companies Have To Balance their Human & RPA Forces
The market is being molded into one where intelligent machines will become our colleagues. This will be an attitude shift where the machines will augment human effort by expediting processes like data crunching, according to Rekha Menon, Chairman of Accenture India.
This will be in parallel to human capital who will continue to drive and control the entire business functioning, and use human reasoning for critical business processes. Companies like Deloitte show the way forward, by instituting training measures to invest in skill development on an ongoing basis.
A study by the company in the UK shows how automation has created 3.5 million low-risk jobs (low risk to being eliminated by automation) between 2001 and 2015, in comparison to 800,000 high-risk jobs which have been disappeared.
5. The Machines Are Being Integrated, It’s Time To Stay Relevant
IT is known for going through a fresh cycle every few years, but periods between cycles are reducing, and RPA is one of its biggest movers and shakers. Every cycle tends to reward companies and individuals that are on the change wave, and those who have not managed to ride the wave could succumb.
Companies are hiring RPA vendors on an increasing basis, and increased automation across the enterprise gives you an opportunity or a challenge: Get into positions of next-gen skillsets that include an RPA controlling component, or stay behind and be hit by strong disruptive headwinds.
Deutsche Bank automated their trade finance and loan operations divisions, and says their robotics in banking onboarding is 30-70%. That opens up new career opportunities as well, reinforcing the need to stay current.
6. Enabling Business & IT To Synergise& Design RPA Systems
We’ve come across a myriad of chat robots that respond to popular FAQs, on many websites that want to capture and leverage on leads. Sometimes, the user experience isn’t that great.
Either the bot can’t respond after certain level of questioning, or it falls through in providing specific instructions. A foundational problem is the lack of conversations between the business decision makers and the technical teams who don’t create a uniform experience.
For example, back-end robots may require certain workflows while front-end bots do not. Systems must converge design consistencies, technical competencies and business imperatives for holistic RPA software to fulfil short and long-term objectives.
7. A Peek IntoThe Workforce Of The Future
While sci-fi movies are surely not short of conjuring possibilities that seem unfathomable right now, movies of the past have pointed to a workforce that is not just technologically empowered, but ‘technologically-assisted’.
The difference is significant, as we get some idea into how our workforce is being shaped by automation. It is essential to get prepared for the future which is already here. Companies using RPA vendors must be ready to get a culture of acceptance established, with clear reasons behind the deployment of machines and how work is going to be realigned.
This shifting sand of the workforce will have to account how future work will get done, and lead to appropriate growth and governance measures.
8. Business & Process Changes Must Be Transmitted to RPA Implementations Through CRM or ERP systems
Move over to the business and competitive perspective. The headwinds hitting the industry and its constituent enterprises are stronger and unpredictable than ever. Right now, RPA isn’t built on an agile methodology that allows it to self-learn immediately.
That calls for setting protocols in place that will create a habit of updating RPA software and tools to feed in changes whenever there are market fluctuations or regulatory updates that could impact the work being done by say, a robotics in banking or healthcare software.
Better still, existing ERP or CRM applications can streamline this process, helping organizations keep their RPA software up-to-date.
9. Improved Agility&Adaptibility With The New Systems At The Workplace
Freeing up valuable hours andwork delivered being more error-freeare some of the great advantages RPA offers to organizations,enabling them to serve their customers better, and ensure better business performance and shareholder value.
Software like Desktop Process Automation from recognized RPA Vendors help organizations champion their workforce to spend time using reasoning to predict where their industry is headed towards, to make decisions that help them adapt to moving trends.
They also cut down standard operating procedures that are sometimes unnecessary or redundant, helping them stay agile and nimble to offer faster services to their customers.
10. RPA 2.0 – When Cognitive Automation Will Leverage Dark Data
We couldn’t end without talking about what bodes next for RPA. RPA 2.0 according to us is where the applications can use current and future technologies like natural language processing, sentiment analysis and deep learning to dive deeper into data.
Right now, the accessible data, also called visible data, is being digested by the RPA systems – historic customer transaction data, sales pattern data etc. But data in sources like emails, images or documents are semi-structured or unstructured that haven’t yet beenanalyzed and leveraged.
You will begin to see activity in this space soon, by RPA vendors. Valuable data in these sources will help connect some dots and reveal findings like never before, therefore this is one of the few trends this space will see in the near future.
While we can all learn how the large-scale implementation of RPA tools and apps is changing the business and customer service scenario around us, the long game must never be traded for short or mid-term gains.
Businesses must have their short-term goals tied in to how it would reach their decade goals, and if RPA is being implemented across the enterprise, there could be a lot of noise created around how individually automated processes are contributing to the success of that team or department.
This is where the power of intelligent automation based on strategic goals must be used as the checklist to map individual process performances vs moving towards the larger goals. RPA vendors must build for organizations based on broad and future thinking to equip organizations with the tools to transform the world.