Businesses are constantly under pressure to find new ways to reduce costs, improve productivity and boost efficiency. It is imperative, now more than ever, to evolve from the traditional operational model and find ways to innovate.
Robotic Process Automation software is at the forefront of this revolution and is set to play a pivotal role over the next few years. Illustrating its popularity, Gartner projects that the revenue of the global robotic process automation (RPA) software market will grow by 19.53% in 2021 to reach $1.88 billion in 2021. In 2020, the market was valued at $1.58 billion and grew by 11.94% year-over-year (YoY).
Based on the Gartner report, 90% of large organizations globally will have adopted the technology by 2022. According to research firm Adroit, the market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33%, reaching $6.22 billion by 2025.
The adoption of the RPA technology aims to digitalize critical business processes and reduce dependency on human labor. But what exactly is RPA software and how will it achieve all of the above?
What is Robotic Process Automation Software?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software refers to a system programmed to handle repetitive, tedious and mundane tasks that previously needed employees. It combines automation and artificial intelligence to carry out tasks that require human intelligence.
Essentially, it entails programming digital assistants (bots) to use technology the way humans do. They, therefore, mimic the way people work so as to connect separate business applications. For instance, a bot will run over existing systems to copy data from one source and paste it into another.
Bots are able to interact with systems and applications in much the same way as humans. Moreover, they can also function round the clock and offer 100% precision. For legacy systems that do not integrate well with others, these bots facilitate seamless communication. Systems that have an abundance of repetitive, rule-based tasks benefit from this form of automation.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software automates billing and workflow management as well as large scale data processing and financial data management. Using such software, businesses have a centralized platform from which they control all business processes and audit data.
Application scenarios for the technology range from simple processes like account opening to more complex ones like loan processing and compliance.
In the past, IT industry players represented the bulk of RPA clients. However, as awareness about it increases in the business world, RPA adoption is continually growing outside the spheres of IT. According to Gartner, by 2024, close to 50% of all new clients will come from business buyers outside the IT sector.
There are plenty of service providers in this market, eager to capitalize on the growing trend. They include Automation Anywhere, UI Path, Kryon and Happiest Minds among others.
Benefits of Using Robotic Process Automation Software
Numerous benefits come to the fore with regard to the use of this technology. Consider some:
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software carries out repetitive, mundane tasks with higher accuracy than human beings. With improved accuracy, the quality of data is higher and thus, it enables more reliable analyses.
RPA software frees up employees from the drudgery of data entry, facilitating creativity, critical thinking and collaboration. When used in the analytics department, RPA software allows employees to focus attention on more sophisticated or custom analysis. In turn, these factors can increase employee satisfaction and reduce churn.
Typically, bots are inexpensive and easy to implement. They do not require any deep system integration or installation of custom software. As such, users get to pursue growth without incurring any significant expenses. Thus, the use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software has been shown to reduce processing costs by up to 80%.
The use of RPA software can cut down on average handling times by up to 40%. While back office processes usually hold back operational speeds, bots work at lightning speeds and do not require breaks. Moreover, they have no difficulty interacting with data that could have been labor-intensive to extract.
Scalability and resilience
Robotic Process Automation software makes high-volume processes more adaptable in changing environments. The flexibility and ability to handle any workload makes it possible to expand digital productivity whenever necessary.
Audit trail creation
The use of a centralized platform for business processes creates and maintains an audit trail. In case issues arise, this allows for detailed audits. Furthermore, it minimizes human contact with sensitive data, reducing the possibility of compliance and fraud issues.
Disadvantage of Using Robotic Process Automation Software
Workers lose jobs
The major shortfall associated with the use of Robotic Process Automation software is a loss of jobs for those who work in automatable jobs. However, enterprises embracing the concept often seek to transition workers to new jobs.
Potential Application Areas of RPA Software
There are countless applications of RPA software. Here are some examples of processes that many companies deal with:
In many organizations, this department is often the epitome of inter-departmental processes. These include the accounts payable department and the purchasing department among others.
With front-end software bots, it is possible to integrate the systems so as to align transactions with consistent data.
The payroll function is among the most tedious of accounting tasks yet requires meticulous attention to avoid errors. While there are modern payroll systems in the market, these may not always integrate with company legacy systems.
With Robotic Process Automation software, streamlining the process is a no-brainer.
Sales-Related Operational Activities
These range from preparation and delivery of invoices, to updating CRM software among others. Considering the central role that sales play in business, it is important to keep these processes flowing smoothly. But they are also among the most monotonous.
Bots can speed up the process, availing invoices to clients in good time and ensuring timely payments. In turn, this can improve cash flow and enhance customer satisfaction. They can also keep the process error-free, reducing customer dissatisfaction and complaints.
Data entry is the height of monotony for nearly every employee. RPA software has the capacity to recognize patterns in data and convert any text into searchable and editable text. This significantly reduces the need for manual data entry, minimizes error and ensures faster results.
RPA Software in Action: Real-World Use Case Scenarios
To illustrate the efficacy of Robotic Process Automation software at work, consider the following real-life applications:
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC)
In this Singapore-based bank, bots handle loan re-pricing and daily sales performance report generation among other tasks.
Bob, a bot, takes one minute on re-pricing home loans, a process that typically takes 45 minutes. As a result of this heightened productivity, the process is 97% faster. On any given day, Bob can process up to 100 home loan restructuring applications.
The company uses RPA technology for HR and finance (invoicing, renewal quote regeneration, etc.). The implementation has resulted in $2 million in savings per year.
This UK-based eCommerce business uses RPA software for its customer registration process. As a result of the implementation, the business eliminated recruitment and training costs for 22 staff members.
Streamlining the Automation Process
Like any other digital transformation project, Robotic Process Automation software implementation is a journey. Keep in mind that workers have to deal with the fear of losing their jobs to robots.
To avoid potential roadblocks to adoption, approach the process with clear and consistent communication on a shared vision. When everyone understands the reasons for automation and potential benefits, as well as their role in the change, the process is likely to be smooth. Find ways to augment your workforce, rather than replace it and build value and productivity from your human team.
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