Robotic process automation is making progress, and future prospects look brighter and brighter. The numbers in a recent Horses for Sources report (which we used before as an opener for making a case for the utility of RPA in the finance industry) are particularly relevant, because they show clear evidence for the ascending financial path of automation. The global market for robotic process automation technology is predicted to reach $1.2 billion by 2021, and this represents a compound annual growth rate of 36% compared to the 2016 market value of $271 million.
The numbers show that robotic process automation is expanding globally, as reported in a McKinsey article from May 2018. This is to say, more and more job types are becoming amenable to automation, leading to a potential dramatic change in the global workforce, especially once RPA, machine learning, natural language processing and industry specific AI solutions integrate and work together.
How robotic process automation offers you a competitive advantage
So let us spell out now the reasons that further justify the use of RPA as a substantial competitive advantage for business innovators.
1.Quick return on investment
Sometimes, it’s only natural to follow positive examples that we encounter on the way. We mentioned the case of a British company, which was helped by unattended (back office) robots to process more than one million transactions per month. What did this mean, concretely? That already in the first year after implementing robotic process automation, it obtained as much as 200% ROI. And no, you don’t need to cautiously dismiss this as ‘a happy but random correlation’.
If you consider that bot deployments free bright human minds to focus on endeavours that are most likely to create high value, then the quick and substantial ROI comes as no surprise. In fact, according to McKinsey, the revenue in the first year upon RPA implementation shows a growth of 30 - 200%.
2. Facilitate compliance
Robotic process automation minimises human error, which is a main cause of compliance breaches, and consequently, a source of never-ending compliance stress for organisations. Software robots are perfectly suited to multiple-source data management and report generation, which are unavoidable steps in regulatory compliance.
Here we went into more detail about the benefits of RPA when it comes to the “necessary complexity” that we call compliance. Also, as of May 25th 2018, compliance with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has become an requirement for Australian companies too. This article outlines how robotic process automation can assist GDPR compliance.
Software robots are your top allies for wise management of the growing security risks of our times. Be it data or access security, both are threats that should not be ignored in order to stay on the market, and to stay competitive. Encryption, segregated access to data within an RPA team, provision of a ‘zero touch environment’, active directory integration, or managing alerts, are just some ways by which RPA actively supports security. We put more flesh on these theoretical bones of cybersecurity here.
4. Data management
We’re doing business in a digital era, therefore data collection, data entry, transfer, interfacing, etc. are crucial processes for competitive companies. Data management, in fact, can be seen as the infrastructure activity of businesses. A stringent problem for legacy data processing systems is that, despite conversion, the systems may be unable to share a common language.
This makes it impossible to access the needed data from application programming interface (APIs) without appeal to human labour for data migration. Robotic process automation on the other hand can ensure a fast and accurate data flow, without getting “lost in translation”. Further, because of its ability to interface across the vast landscape of available technology, RPA can also perform comprehensive data analysis.
5. Making people really matter
Economic as well as social consequences are what make this humanistic claim a real, concrete competitive advantage. When we say “people”, we refer to both your employees and your customers - both sides are empowered by RPA. The employees no longer have to carry out boring, repetitive, monotonous tasks, like populating Excel files with raw data, because the bots can do it faster and error free. They are therefore clear to engage in more valuable jobs and, consequently, their level of job satisfaction improves.
What is also relevant in this context is that these valuable jobs inherently upgrade the overall functionality of your business. With robotic process automation, your workers will have greater flexibility and time to engage with customers and more generally, to provide higher-value customer service. Hence, improved customer satisfaction, hence, a higher standing for your company.
What do the 5 reasons for robotic process automation as the source of significant competitive advantage have in common? The fact that the focus on establishing a harmonious joint venture between human staff and technology is what actually drives the benefits. In order to obtain as fast as possible the advocated advantage, it all comes down to finding the right measure between human and technological skills.
The expansion of RPA deployment requires this sort of dynamic balance between skilled employees and digital technology. We are not saying this is an easy thing to do, since it demands a holistic vision, operationalised in a concerted and coherent manner. This is precisely what justifies the need for calling upon experienced RPA advisors to manage implementation, as well as for establishing an RPA Centre of Excellence once the system is launched. In fact, we mentioned the Centre of Excellence as one of the robotic process automation best practices for maximum gain.