How Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is Changing the Role of CIO

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Robotic process automation (RPA) is being incorporated into more and more business processes, including the roles of the C-suite. Thanks to its ability to emulate human and digital interactions, a number of repetitive tasks are being taken over by RPA in place of human employees.

This enables more efficient work processes and creating impactful employees. The role of the CIO in particular is facing notable changes as RPA becomes more advanced and widely deployed.

Why are CIOs using RPA?

As businesses become more competitive, the need for more efficient and effective internal processes is increasing. CIOs are looking to emerging technologies to improve business operations and reduce costs. RPA is filling this need by serving as an invaluable resource for streamlining enterprise operations.

By reducing the need for employees to spend time on mundane repetitive tasks, more time is allowed for bigger picture items. While this technology not only improves the availability of customer-facing employees, Robotic process automation excels at the very tasks they’re relieving the employees from.

Software robots don’t need breaks, doesn’t make mistakes, needs no time off and costs less than an employee. Because RPA allows businesses to automate important tasks at a fraction of the cost and time, it’s more attainable and creates less of a disruption to existing operations.

When you consider how much of a business's total operation includes repetitive, data heavy work it’s no surprise the need for automation is apparent. Skilled employees deserve the opportunity to apply their knowledge and savvy CIOs recognize the impact more customer-centric work can have on their company.

For reasons such as this, Gartner has predicted that 73% of corporate controllers will implement some form of RPA in their finance departments by 2020.

Businesses today recognize the fact that technology is the backbone behind modern business and fully adopting digital transformation is essential for growth. This in turn makes the CIO role increasingly vital to success.

Today’s CIO is the leading force behind building out and implementing new digital platforms and operating models that prepare businesses for today’s highly competitive landscape. RPA helps to facilitate this as it improves a variety of business elements and department functions. The productivity of marketing, customer service, legal and financial departments and more, all benefit from the implementation of automation.

According to Everest Group CEO, Peter Bendor, in order to meet the new demands and changes technology is imposing on businesses, CIO organisation must also change the following aspects:

  • Change its mind-set

  • Ensure deeper business knowledge

  • Increase agility and speed

How RPA is changing the role of CIO

1. Added value

As organizations continue to grow, there is an ongoing struggle between enterprise innovation and staffing. Task automation allows companies to cut back on extra staff that would traditionally be responsible for completing routine tasks.

CIOs in this case can positively impact enterprise growth by making information management central to the business.

2. Cost savings

CIOs can contribute to radical savings upwards of 40% by automating tasks originally done by employees, according to IRPA AI. By reducing money spent on a human workforce, organizations can put more money into advancement without sacrificing quality.

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3. Improved teamwork

CIOs are becoming facilitators of greater collaboration between the IT staff and business units within organizations. As RPA implementation changes business operations, departments will have no choice but to discover new ways to work together and CIOs will lead this transformation.

4. C-Suite Advancement

Robotic process automation is changing the role of CIO and changing how others in the C-suite view the role. RPA technology is contributing to rapid advancement in technologies and tools that directly impact customers and in turn, business revenu. As a result, savvy CEOs are looking to CIOs for guidance in strategic goals and corporate growth.

What are CIOs saying?

Major corporations are already on the bandwagon of what RPA can do for their team and overall business. RPA is changing the role of CIO and industry professionals are taking notice by implementing the technology.  Walmart, American Express Global Business Travel, AT&T and Walgreens are a few examples of enterprises currently utilizing RPA technology

Walmart CIO, Clay Johnson: Walmart has deployed around 500 bots to automate a multitude of tasks such as answering employee questions to organizing audit documents. Johson attributed much of the decision to utilize bots to employees who are tired of the work.

American Express Global Business Travel CIO, David Thompson:  RPA is currently being used to automate airline ticket canceling processes and issuing refunds. Moving forward, RPA is also expected to automate rebook recommendations and certain expense management tasks.

Western Union: Former CIO, David Thompson implemented automation solutions, training RPA to identically replicate how employees do specific tasks. He believes the number of things that can be automated is continuously growing.

Who should be using RPA?

The use of automation should be decided based on a thorough evaluation of an organisation's internal processes, workflow and staffing. CIOs should assess their organisations and identify all items that require employees to complete high volumes of repetitive work.

As Olive CPO David Landreman’s stated, RPA is best suited for supplementing data intensive process where logic-based outcomes are anticipated. There are four general baselines for determining whether robotic process automation is a good fit for an organisation, according to Landerman:

  • The process must be rule-based

  • The process must have a pre-defined trigger

  • The process must have defined inputs and outputs

  • The task should have sufficient volume

Robotic process automation is designed to improve production as well as the lives of the employees utilising it. As technology continues to advance and supplement more businesses tasks, organizations will need to reinvent positions to better suit new workflows. The roles of the C-suite in particular will not only lead the change, but change themselves.

Author Bio: Maddie Davis is co-founder of Enlightened Digital and a tech-obsessed female from the Big Apple. She lives by building and redesigning websites, running marathons and reading anything and everything on the NYT Best Sellers list.