How RPA Can Drive Organizational Innovation: A PK Perspective
In the push for business process automation, robotic process automation (RPA) has gone mainstream. More than 70 percent of the business leaders questioned by the Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence Survey said that they plan to invest more in the implementation and development of RPA in 2018, and Forrester expects the market for RPA to reach $2.9 billion by 2021.
RPA is gaining in popularity because it is efficient and effective, relatively inexpensive, quick to implement and unobtrusive. It allows workers to streamline repetitive tasks, eliminating activities such as copying and pasting data from one system to another, verifying data and online information gathering.
In doing so, it differentiates itself from AI, which many U.S. workers believe to be synonymous with the automation of the entire workflow and their inevitable replacement in the workforce. RPA stands apart by working hand-in-hand with human workers to relieve them of the tedious aspects of their jobs. Rather than replacing humans, RPA automates the high-volume repetitive tasks they do as part of their daily responsibilities, freeing them to focus on the activities that require human attention and judgment. It allows companies to leverage the full potential of their most valuable asset – their workers.
Given the simplicity of the tasks that RPA is typically used to automating, organizations often think about the value of RPA in terms of employee hours or dollars saved, neither of which are insignificant. For example, The Institute for Robotic Process Automation estimates that an RPA software robot costs about one-third the price of an offshore full-time employee (FTE) and one one-fifth the price of an onshore worker. By enabling 24/7/365 execution, it can expedite completion of activities its automation facilitates.
But the ROI on RPA isn’t limited to productivity. RPA creates far more opportunities, including enabling employee innovation and increasing the value of your human capital. New doors are being opened by RPA, and the organizations able to leverage RPA’s capabilities will be at the forefront of business process automation in their industry.
Augmenting Human Capability
What if you could empower your teams with more time and brain capacity for problem solving, customer interaction and tasks that require emotional intelligence? With RPA, companies can enable workers to be innovative and creative simply by augmenting their existing capabilities.
Considered by many experts to be the start of the second Industrial Revolution, RPA is most useful when applied to complex, manually driven processes – those, for example, that involve spreadsheets or have a substantial amount of routine work or back-and-forth between teams, as with sales and administrative work. Many of the activities that these workers spend the most time on – updating spreadsheets, verifying data, locating information – take up the bulk of their time but require little brainpower. These activities are ideal to be automated with RPA.
Consider the case of a telecom giant with an app that offered 2.5 million users hundreds of offers and discounts from outside vendors each week. The offer update process was convoluted, and sharing the deals with the app management team required manual updates to a large spreadsheet. Copying and pasting information from emails into the spreadsheet led to frequent errors and missing information. The app team spent a lot of time identifying and fixing these errors, leading to significant delays.
PK helped the telecom giant automate the process with RPA, implementing robotic integrity checks into the process that eliminated the time needed for the app team to uncover and fix errors. That freed the app team to focus on new ways to interact with customers through the app. Instead of focusing on repetitive tasks, the app team can now use their skillsets on higher-value tasks. As a result, workers are more engaged and feel more fulfilled in their positions.
Low Impact and Low Cost
RPA implementation doesn’t have to break the IT budget. In reality, RPA is much simpler to implement than most business systems. It automates actions at the user interface level, and unlike system-to-system interactions that require integration at a deeper level, it doesn’t require an API or changes to applications or processes. Businesses can test a Proof of Concept for a particular process automation and determine its feasibility without dedicating substantial resources. Innovation-driven RPA can be tested and adapted at scale without much risk to an organization’s existing processes and IT platforms.
As RPA continues to spread across industries, it offers organizations far more than just the ability to reduce time spent on menial tasks. It can drive innovation throughout the organization and enable your employees to spend time on the highest value activities – ones that require the human touch.
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