In the day-to-day operations of a company, there are many processes that often needs the repeated manual work between the computer desktop and the information system.
The development of technology have impacted business processes, from the use of software packages to the enterprise resource planning (ERP), and the development of RPA now allows enterprises to effectively improve business efficiency and employee efficiency with less resources and time.
What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
The Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an emerging technology that simulates what computer users often do while sitting in front of their desk. This technology can automate these repetitive tasks without the need of special hardware. With the RPA, businesses will be able to reduce their cost, save time for their customers and automate some part of the day-to-day processes.
The benefits of RPA
Undoubtedly, there are advantages of RPA, it increases the customer satisfaction and the quality of the work, because robots will never do mistakes as human somehow does.
For example, in the case of repetitive accounting work, large companies usually have 10,000 invoices per month and this requires 6-8 accountants to complete the verification report. However, through RPA, it will be 4 times faster than that of humans, This would allow 6-8 accountants who were previously responsible to do higher-level analysis, and also to reconfigure talent while reducing labor costs.
However, what is needed attention is, these robots will replace human input in the future. We might think that if the robots are doing humans job, the humans will have nothing to do. In fact, the robots are actually doing the jobs that the back officers hates, those huge amount of repetitive tasks spends up 80% of their time everyday and it is lowering their performances and motivation.With the proper support of IT technology, the employees having more time to work on the value-added tasks, business persons can improve their efficiency, and put talents in a better position.
How much can I increase the productivity and save the cost thank to the RPA?
Pwc(PricewaterhouseCoopers) stated that, after setting up the RPA in their accounting and finance department, the RPA technology can reduce their process cost by about 25% to 40%, including manpower, time and money. The technology saves a lot of resources from the aspect of an enterprise. In addition,the RPA robots do not need to rest,they can run at high speed 24 hours a day automatically.
Study Case- RPA at Telefonica O2
Being the second largest telecom provider in UK, like other big companies and large organizations, Telefonica O2 has a lot of customers. Which means, they have a large-scale of back-office business processes to handle,therefore, they do need a lot of employees to maintain their daily operations. As of 2018, O2 had 25 million customers and has over 450 retail stores and sponsors . In 2012, its U.K.’s revenues were $583million , and it employed 10,280 people.
After the implementation of the RPA the outcomes achieved by O2 were satisfied. During April 2015, O2 implemented around 160 RPA software licenses, they process between 400,000 and 500,000 transactions each month, prospecting a three-year return on investment of between 650% and 800%. This implementation did increased their revenue and reduced the back-office headcount by around 20%. As in 2016, their revenues were $1,97 billion,with around 6,600 employees.
In the future, O2 is still planning to continue to automate processes with RPA and hope to increase their RPA volumes to 700,000 per month.
RPA isn’t a new term, it exists in the early 2000s. However, since the technology and researches on RPA is growing rapidly, the RPA technology has powerfully improved and developed during these years than before.
Some top providers in this market:
- Uipath: It provides solutions for contact centers and back offices supports attended and unattended RPA. Its market coverage is across geographies, client sizes, industry verticals and business processes.
- Blue Prism: A provider who offers solutions for contact centers and back offices.
- Automation Anywhere: They provide a a cognitive robotics process automation platform, advance with cognitive bots that learn as they work, and analytics that can change the way you work.
- Cognizant: It offers cognitive platforms and products, advisory services.
Importing the robots
It is very hard to predict the pricing of setting up the RPA. It depends on many aspects of your company,including the area you would like to perform on (reports,finance,invoice processing, etc.),the size and the industry your company belongs to, etc.
When basically importing process robots, companies are usually being separated into two status:
The first is a company that has already carried out preliminary trials and is trying to expand this technology, the second is a preliminary assessment of the possibility of exploring process robots. If your organization belongs to the second situation, it is suggested to start with a pilot project (Pilot/Prototype) to let companies become more familiar with the capabilities of the automate process robots.
How might Robotic Process Automation (RPA) evolve in the future?
Even though with the significant growth of the RPA technology during the past two years, the experts are saying that this is still in the early stages. Companies hoped to increase the usage of RPA in their departments. However, before this technology become really common in our workforce , human have to change their role and their minds in this society. People have to treat the robots and communicate with them as if they are human, because after years and years of development, the robots will evolve, it might be hard to even differentiate human and robots.
- Boulton, C. (2018). What is RPA? A revolution in business process automation. [online] CIO. Available at: https://www.cio.com/article/3236451/business-process-management/what-is-rpa-robotic-process-automation-explained.html [Accessed 29 May 2018].
- McKinsey & Company. (2018). The next acronym you need to know about: RPA (robotic process automation). [online] Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/the-next-acronym-you-need-to-know-about-rpa [Accessed 29 May 2018].
- Anon, (2018). [ebook] Available at: https://www.capgemini.com/consulting-fr/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2017/08/robotic_process_automation_the_next_revolution_of_corporate_functions_0.pdf [Accessed 29 May 2018].
- Morgan, B 2018, ‘THE DANCE OF THE ROBOTS: How to turn data into practicable insight to benefit businesses, stakeholders and individual customers’, Credit Management, pp. 20-21, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 30 May 2018.
- Clark, L 2018, ‘PROCESS MINING SHOWS SIEMENS A BETTER WAY: Siemens has turned to process mining to reveal inefficiencies in the way it pays suppliers, organises logistics and runs order-to-cash processes’, Computer Weekly, pp. 17-20, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 31 May 2018.
- Lacity, M, & Willcocks, L 2016, ‘Robotic Process Automation at Telefónica O2’, MIS Quarterly Executive, 15, 1, pp. 21-35, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 June 2018.
Leung Kei TSANG