- July 2, 2019
- Posted by: James Gardner
- Category: Intelligent Automation
What is Robotic Process Automation?
More and more organisations are turning to robotic process automation (RPA) for several reasons. Thanks to RPA tools, businesses can streamline and automate mundane processes, which enables them to spend more time on higher-value work. Essentially, RPA allows organisations to configure computer software (a “robot”) to carry out lower-value tasks such as processing a transaction, communicating with other systems, entering and manipulating data, and so on. RPA systems can mimic many human user actions, such as logging into applications, moving files and folders, copying and pasting data, filling in forms, and more. The scenarios in which RPA can be implemented range from basic tasks, such as generating an automatic email response, to something more complex, like deploying thousands of bots each instructed to complete tasks in an ERP system.
Why are organisations using RPA?
Due to the benefits of RPA, it’s no surprise that 92% of European enterprises are expected to adopt RPA technology by 2020*. RPA is attractive to many organisations as it provides solutions to low-value tasks that may otherwise eat up the time of many employees. It gives organisations the opportunity to reduce staffing costs and minimise human error, while increasing speed and productivity – plus robots don’t sleep! As organisations pursue growth, bots are an attractive low-cost, easy-to-implement option that doesn’t require custom software or the altering of existing systems.
Another benefit? RPA robots learn quickly, assimilate flawlessly into any system, and are adaptable. Organisations can scale and multiply their RPA bots, making it easy to adjust to growth and enable flexibility. In addition, RPA systems develop reports on their progress, allowing you to make informed, strategic decisions.
Organisations are also able to combine RPA with cognitive technologies including as machine learning (ML), speech recognition, and natural language processing. This means RPA is now able to complete higher-order processes which in the past, required human involvement.
The Challenges of Implementing RPA
Although RPA has a multitude of benefits, it’s not without its limitations. RPA, as with any automation technology, has the potential to displace workers, creating a human capital conundrum. Even if this transition is handled well, the economic ROI of these systems is not exact. For example, automating 30 per cent of tasks won’t necessarily deliver a 30 per cent cost reduction.
There are also significant limitations on what RPA can do. The RPA can only be programmed to perform a repetitive task. In order to implement this, a subject matter expert who understands the manual process thoroughly must lay out these steps for the RPA. Additionally, RPA systems can’t handle errors, quirks, or exceptions that humans are able to navigate, meaning the data sources and destinations need to be highly structured and unchanging for the RPA to complete its task.
Even with these challenges, many organisations are seeing the benefits of RPA and as technology develops, RPA systems are likely to become more sophisticated and adaptable.