Digital technology has opened whole new vistas of success, profit, and agility in organizations across the globe. From the smallest startup to the vastest enterprise, Digital Transformation has forever changed the way we do business.
But with the resulting faster pace of change come other challenges, such as managing IT in a more agile, automated, and Evergreen way. IT organizations have to figure out how to deal with:
- An ever-increasing number of updates to manage, especially difficult if you’re doing everything manually
- A growing workforce to manage the sheer volume of programs and applications
- Out-of-the-box IT solutions that don’t always fit your needs (or more importantly, your clients’ needs)
- Security concerns, which have proven threatening even to the biggest corporations (looking at you, Target)
- Difficulty rolling out new systems due to the number of other systems they affect
- The need to stay competitive with other companies who may have a better handle on IT than you do
… and more. If you’re responsible for making IT decisions at your company, you already know about all these challenges, and have probably felt them keenly. But sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees and figure out how to do more, at a faster pace, with the same (or in some cases) even less resources. Throwing more people and more money at the problem will get you only so far.
You need to automate. Enter robotic processing automation.
What Is Robotic Processing Automation?
Robotic Processing Automation, or RPA can be defined as
"a type of software that mimics the activity of a human being in carrying out a task within a process. It can do repetitive stuff more quickly, accurately, and tirelessly than humans, freeing them to do other tasks requiring human strengths such as emotional intelligence, reasoning, judgment, and interaction with the customer”
, according to an interview with London School of Economics professor Leslie Willcocks conducted by management consulting giant McKinsey.
Boiled down, RPA is a process in which robotic programs are programmed to act like humans, making decisions, sorting and cataloging, and carrying out less-interesting or -fulfilling tasks. This is not as refined as cognitive automation, points out Willcocks, in that RPA does not impinge upon tasks that would be engaging to humans or require high-level attention. Rather, it runs routines that are human-like but don’t really require human oversight.
In the context of IT, that means managing app integration, new updates and rollouts, handling IT tickets, and giving end users the capability to manage many of their own IT needs. This, as you can imagine, brings some major benefits.
What Are the Benefits of Robotic Processing?
So if you invest in RPA, what can you expect? Here are just a few perks:
- Massive ROI: According to McKinsey, “RPA … offers a potential ROI of 30–200 percent—in the first year.” Can we agree that sounds amazing, no matter your industry or needs?
- Evergreen IT: Time was, information technology required lengthy and disruptive upgrades. Websites went down for a day, employees were turned out of their offices, and customers were offered a shrug and an apologetic “Sorry, the system is undergoing maintenance.” No longer. With RPA, your updates run in the background constantly, reducing or removing that disruption overall – which in itself increases your bottom line measurably.
- Increased Human Engagement: As stated above, your staff can let go of boring, thankless chores such as data entry, web scraping and updates. That frees them up for more fulfilling tasks, which in turn makes your company a stronger magnet for talent.
- Greater Innovation: With more money and more talent at your disposal, you’d have to work hard not to see greater innovation and ingenuity. To say RPA can make you a contender where you weren’t before is an understatement.
- Labor Savings: If you can cut out the human element for repetitive processes, you can save money on salaries, training and hiring costs. This is one of the biggest benefits of RPA.
- Ultimate scalability: Scaling is critical. Not only do you want your enterprise to grow, but many people forget that you might need to scale down again (it happens) and won’t want to switch technologies then. RPA enables scaling in both directions seamlessly. However, with RPA on hand, you’re unlikely to do anything but grow.
The best news of all is that these benefits can accrue to almost any enterprise in any industry.
Who Is a Candidate for RPA?
Nearly anyone can benefit from robotic automation. Consider a company that processes a lot of applications, for instance, such as a bank. Many of these applications require filling in field after field, often in duplicate or triplicate, which is an exhausting task rife with the potential for error when it’s carried out by humans. However, robots can handle it with ease.
Managing accounts receivable also comes to mind. Entering a paid invoice often requires lots of ancillary tasks, such as reconciling spreadsheets or balancing accounts. Robots can take that initial input and distribute the information to all secondary tasks, saving a person from doing them.
Also note that agile development is appropriate for small and medium-sized businesses as well as large enterprises. Even if you only have 20 computers on your network, RPA will reduce the time your IT director has to spend servicing them, updating networks and security measures, and answering the individual requests of each employee. That’s a boon for a company of any size, up to thousands or hundreds of thousands, spread across the globe.
At the end of the day, robotic processing automation is a fairly simple way to save time and money, attract talent and reduce the number of headaches faced in your organization’s daily life. Besides which, it’s not difficult to integrate into your existing processes. Whether you’re facing down the barrel of a huge rollout or simply want to streamline the everyday, it’s time to consider RPA today.