A Robotics Process Automation (RPA) solution is a software robot that automates many of the tasks that humans regularly perform. The benefits of RPA are numerous and offer a wide array of competitive advantages. Software from the top RPA companies can interface with major businesses applications, accomplishing routine tasks faster and more efficiently than human operators.
RPA’s benefits are attracting large investment. IT research firms estimate that the RPA market will grow from an estimated $1 billion in 2020 to a predicted $5 billion by 2024.
While still an emerging technology, Robotic Process Automation interoperates closely with artificial intelligence, machine learning and intelligent automation of all types. As these related technologies develop, RPA will offer correspondingly more benefit.
Benefits of RPA
The benefits of RPA are various and always developing, as automation and AI software develop quickly. Currently, these ten key points are among the top advantages of this emerging robotic automation process.
1. Far More Effective Use of Staff Resources
This is the greatest benefit of robotic process automation for most companies: with your human staff freed from many tedious, low-value tasks, they can focus on higher value – and higher revenue generating – tasks. Furthermore, as RPA’s automated software robots are programmed more effectively, these bot can perform a still greater number of routine tasks, extending your human staff even more.
2. Enhanced Customer Interactions
Because RPA can move processes faster and more efficiently than human staff, your business is likely to see its customer satisfaction levels grow considerably. With many low level customer requests handled automatically, those customers are having a better experience, leading to great loyalty.
3. A Refresh for Legacy IT Infrastructure
Aided by an RPA solution, a business’s legacy IT infrastructure – its data center, its many server and networking deployments – is significantly more responsive and agile than an infrastructure that lacks programmable RPA tools. Consequently, an RPA tool can make a company’s major cost center (its data facility) more effective – which could more than justify the cost of an RPA platform.
4. Reduced Costs
Certainly an RPA solution has upfront costs – buying the application, installing it – and then ongoing costs for maintenance. Additionally, upgrades to an RPA system can incur expense.
But the reduced costs resulting from RPA is potentially huge because any given RPA robot is far less expensive than a human staffer. On a task-by-task basis, any chore performed by an RPA tool saves a business significantly – and this cost savings is multiplied as the software robot works ever longer at a lower cost.
5. A Larger Virtual “Staff”
In most cases, businesses have been able to get more done with fewer workers using RPA. It’s likely that some businesses have at least considered working with a smaller staff after adopting RPA automated “workers”; or at least slowed the pace of hiring new human staffers.
In any case, a well-governed group of automated virtual workers will greatly expand your total workforce. This larger “staff” will be hard working – seven days a week – require no vacation time, and never leave a mess in the company lunchroom.
6. Improved Analytics for Workflow Management
There are numerous tracking systems for monitoring human staff – workflow analytics – but no human being can be tracked nearly as well as an automated robotic process.
A clear grid of activities and timelines can be established, and an RPA tool’s effectiveness can be tracked down to the most minor task and the smallest time increment.
Moreover, by continuously tracking the RPA system’s activities and accomplishments, its planning and governance can be increased – by a clear and precise metric. As ML and AI are built into the automated process – as the RPA grows more intelligent – analytics will become more complex. Yet the system will (given a properly trained data scientist) still be able to track performance with complete authority.
7. Advanced Governance
The RPA benefit of advanced governance has two levels:
- An RPA system complies with a clear and precise governance system. Indeed, creating a well-considered governance structure is a key step in effective deployment of an RPA platform.
- RPA software can govern your larger system. That is, it can check and recheck and monitor systems continually. Just as humans monitor governance now (but with all the mistakes that humans make) an automated system can check and flag an activity in an enterprise infrastructure that does not comply with the current governance framework.
8. Improved Scalability
RPA solutions are designed for ease of scalability. No human team of professionals can scale their scope and reach of competitive activities at the level of an army of automated bots. Indeed, the two teams, humans vs. bots, aren’t even close when it comes to scalability.
A group of automated robotic processes, for instance, can be duplicated and programmed to accomplish a similar but slightly different set of procedures. The duplication and reprogramming can happen again and again, producing a legion of active systems where once there was a mere handful.
Additionally, these RPA bots can increasingly incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning into their automation, which offers yet another way to scale. In this case, AI and ML offer exponential scalability over human staff.
9. Better Security
Few if any software systems have perfect security – hackers are always looking for an vulnerability – but an robotic automated process has a clear advantage over a strictly human team.
An RPA tool never forgets to make a log entry, never forgets to log out, never posts its password on the screen with a small paper note. It can be set to “time out” so that a system is inaccessible when it should be. Best of all, a complete log file of all of its activities exists, so any potential dangerous activity is recorded.
10. A Clear Advantage Over Competitors
Given the power of scalable, highly flexible automation that RPA offers, any business that deploys it will have a sizeable performance advantage over competitors that lack such a system.
RPA’s ability to quickly and precisely perform a vast array of key essential tasks makes a business far more nimble, and far more able to complete an aggressive task load.
RPA Benefits By Industry
Companies leveraging the benefits of RPA include AT&T, Walmart and Deutsche Bank. Clearly, RPA’s automated processes can be used across various industries. For example:
- Finance – a major financial institution deployed RPA robots to perform the tasks of over 200 human staff – at about one third the cost.
- Insurance – a large part of the workload in the insurance industry is routing claims though the system. While some of this requires human decision making, RPA tools can speed up plenty of mindless busywork.
- Supply chains – Because RPA can scale from a very small solution to a sprawling, multi-point solution, it is well suited to scale with a large and often changing logic system like a supply chain, including a national or international supply chain.
- Healthcare – given the extensive demands for up-to-date patient data, RPA’s ability to transfer data from one system to another can reduce massive amounts of human work.
How RPA Works
Disadvantages of RPA
Those tech industry observers who see the limits of this new RPA technology point out that it cannot work in isolation. In short, a company’s RPA solution must be part of a well-planned overall artificial intelligence plan.
To truly capture the many benefits of RPA, companies must employ proper governance, careful planning and well-structured design. A critical part of this design – still in its infancy with this emerging technology – is leveraging AI and ML.
A company’s larger AI system, for instance, will inform and guide the structure and maintenance of its RPA solution, on a daily, task-by-task basis. Without tying into a larger AI system, the limitations of an RPA system will reduce its value, critic says. In fact in some cases, it may not be worth the expense and complication of a new RPA solution.
Looking forward to the full mainstream implementation of AI and ML automation technologies, RPA could be the key “intelligent force” whose programmability turns an AI system into a real competitive advantage.
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