RPA: Why is it worth your money (and our time)?
“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
Embracing the need for speed with Robotic Process Automation
- Organizations worldwide struggle with achieving the speed needed to progress at the pace they aspire to. While 9 out of 10 business stakeholders believe it’s important tobuild an organization of the future, i.e., one characterized by agility, adaptability, and speed, only 11% of them understand how to do it. Here’s where RPA steps in.
- By eliminating time-consuming, menial work, robotic process automation adds efficiency businesses need to strike the right pace for success. This guide will walk you through basic to advanced RPA use cases, demonstrating the value of bot-based automation for various businesses and sectors. Our goal is to throw light on RPA, prove that it’s not as scary as it may seem, and encourage you to give it a try.
- Whatever the reason brought you to us, we hope you will find the answer to all the nagging questions about automation bots and learn how they can elevate your business to a whole different level. Going through our content will help you understand robotic process automation and determine this: ‘💰Is RPA worth my money 💰?’
What is Robotic Process Automation?
Of course, there’s slightly more to RPA than this. But at this point, this simple definition will suffice. One more thing that’s worth realizing upfront is the distinction between attended vs. unattended automation:
- Attended automation – As the name suggests, attended automation needs guidance and cannot function on its own. Attended bots require collaboration with humans, assisting users and employees with tasks, and interacting with them to provide support. They are typically used in front-office activities to boost productivity, eliminate human error, increase compliance, and speed up task execution.
Example: Call center automation robots that assist agents, e.g., by prompting them on the next step of the script or finding answers to a customer inquiry.
- Unattended automation – By analogy, unattended automation is fully autonomous and runs regardless of human assistance. Unattended bots are pre-programmed to work independently, following a rules-based process. They can be triggered by specific events to take action or scheduled on a timer (see also RPA & AI: What’s the difference?). This type of robotic process automation excels at batch back-office activities.
Example: RPA bots that can extract data from multiple sources, such as invoices, bills, or bank statements, and compare them for accuracy, approve, reject, or send for further processing.
What does RPA do?
There are no limits to robotic process automation capabilities to automate unexciting, time-consuming activities that eat up time that could be better spent on high-value work. RPA can be programmed to carry out repetitive tasks, such as reading and writing data, retrieving information from applications and databases, making calculations, or providing first-line customer support.
In particular, robotic process automation bots can:
Log into applications
Communicate with APIs
Search for images
Validate and retrieve data
Forward simple queries
Install tools and plugins
Apart from retrieving data, bots can add information to various systems and apps
Send alerts & notifications
Benefits of Robotic Process Automation solutions
“While we see RPA as a huge driver of improved performance and efficiency, the impact correlates back to accuracy and customer experience.”
Senior Director at RPA, Target
The advantages of RPA for business are as follows:
Increased speed and productivity
Reduced operating costs
Measuring RPA ROI
Given the relatively low cost and efficiency-boosting capabilities of robotic process automation, the technology helps businesses realize ROI in a matter of days. Or minutes, as it was the case of this US bank.
A leading American lending institution saw over a 300,000% return on investment with a simple RPA solution that streamlines the submission of applications for a national loan program.
Impeccable customer experience
Do RPA bots dream of killing our jobs?
OK, so robotic process automation bots never sleep and don’t make clerical errors. They don’t get paid, remain alert and productive 24/7, and complete tasks a great deal faster than human workers. Considering these facts, it seems reasonable to ask this: If RPA adds so much value and asks almost nothing in return, won’t it threaten our jobs?
The key to answering this question is to understand that the RPA’s role is transformation, not annihilation.
Robotic automation takes over routine tasks to release the power of human creativity, problem-solving, and inventiveness, and redirect employees to do purposeful work (while reducing costs). The technology is poised to transform the way we work, yet it is intended to impact specific tasks rather than entire professions. The doom and gloom scenario of automation bots displacing all human workers is highly implausible. And here’s why:
- Robots do robot jobs. They’ve been created to perform specific, repetitive, and tedious tasks that don’t require a creative spark or human ingenuity.
- The technology is meant to support and not replace humans at work. RPA bots are there to free us from routine work and give us more time to focus on value-added activities.
- Robotic automation solutions are pre-programmed; they need clear objectives and cannot plan, organize, and prioritize work independently.
- Some tasks cannot be automated, while others require human interaction or guidance.
- RPA means more volume, better customer service, and more business. More business equals growth. And ultimately, growth creates more jobs.
- Finally, dedicated, adaptable employees with a strong work ethic are extremely hard to find. No one in their right mind would want to lay them off on account of automation.
Over one-third of businesses expect to extend their workforce for new roles by 2022. Worldwide, the number of new jobs will offset the impact of automation.
Are Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Business Process Management (BPM) the same?
What’s the difference between RPA and BPM?
Robotic Process Automation deals with optimizing specific tasks to be more efficient.
Business Process Management takes a holistic approach to business transformation.
Any job or process
RPA or BPM — which one to choose?
Robotic Process Automation versus Artificial Intelligence
RPA vs. AI: Is there a difference?
A common way to differentiate between RPA and AI is by making the following analogy:
AI mimics human intelligence and augments our capabilities, while RPA mimics human actions and helps us accomplish goals faster.
Indeed, in the battle of brains versus brawn, RPA bots are the muscles. They help us by doing things we ask them to do and lack the intellectual capacity to act of their own will. And AI software acts as the brains. It can learn, analyze, improve, and predict. As AI solutions ‘learn,’ they mature and gradually become more independent.
Robotic Process Automation
- RPA is driven by processes, and it needs to be programmed.
- It primarily applies to repeatable, straightforward processes.
- Its purpose is to automate grunt work and improve workflows.
- RPA handles rule-based work and does what it’s told.
- Thanks to its simplicity, RPA doesn’t require high CPU usage.
- It’s purpose-built for business use and doesn’t need expert skills to control.
Robotic Process Automation
- AI relies on high-quality data and can define tasks and goals on its own.
- Its applications are virtually unlimited; AI can perform highly complex jobs.
- It focuses on solving issues that would otherwise need human intelligence.
- AI software can self-learn, continuously improving its outcomes.
- AI systems demand massive computing power from hardware.
- It usually takes data science expertise to operate sophisticated AI systems.
And how about machine learning?To learn the difference between RPA and machine learning (ML), it’s essential to understand where the latter stands with respect to AI. Aside from natural language processing (NLP) and deep learning, machine learning is one of the main subsets of artificial intelligence. It refers to a software system’s ability to learn from experience and improve results based on accumulated data, without being programmed by a human. Let’s look into some day-to-day examples of ML in our lives. We can think of Spotify, Netflix, or Amazon using the information about our purchase history and item search to figure out what we like and come up with an accurate product or content recommendations. In contrast, RPA is not capable of making conclusions and learning on its own. It relies on pre-built rules and processes and needs a human to tell it what to do explicitly.
Leading RPA solutions you can use to boost productivity
Robotic Process Automation solutions are fairly simple, which makes them very attractive for many companies seeking business optimization, especially if they launch with little capital. In addition to being relatively easy to deploy and handle, automation bots are also quite affordable.
Open and subscription-based RPA platforms enable quick automation of business processes without significant software investment. We use them at Flobotics to build custom implementations that allow our clients to ramp up productivity and unleash revenue potential.
The RPA value: RPA examples across industries
RPA first emerged in the early 2000s, but it wasn’t until around 2015 when the technology entered the mainstream. In the beginning, robotic automation predominantly helped optimize processes in the BPO, banking, and finance sectors.
Gradually, RPA vendors started focusing more on industry-specific processes in other verticals, such as healthcare, retail, energy & utilities, and manufacturing. As a result of rapid expansion, today, the global robotic process automation market is growing at an impressive rate. With a 22.3% CAGR, it is projected to reach $6.81 billion by the end of 2026. This is hardly surprising. RPA solutions provide huge cost and productivity benefits across all industries, as we will prove in this section.
#1 RPA in BPO
#2 RPA in telecommunications
The impact of hyper-automation on telecom
One of the leading global communications providers gained the following benefits by deploying RPA bots to automate time-consuming tasks:
- Over two million financial transactions processed within the first six months after the rollout
- 25% improvement in cycle time across several key processes
- An additional capacity of more than 80 FTE freed by automating grunt work
- Eliminated need to hire temporary workers to fill in fluctuations in work volume