Robotics Process Automation (RPA) is one of today’s hottest topics due to its promise to transform business operations through process efficiencies.  But is RPA truly a transformative technology?

With the rise of new and emerging digital technologies, many companies have now found themselves in a challenging position. They need to “go digital” and do more with available resources, while cutting costs and making processes more efficient.

These pressures have generated intense interest in Robotics Process Automation making it one of the hottest topics across numerous of industries. According to Grand Vue Research the “RPA global market size is projected to reach US$8.75 billion by 2024, growing at around 60% CAGR”.

Robotics can be applied across a company’s entire operations and across hundreds of processes – particularly those in the front-to-back and back-office processes 

While the fundamental concept of process automation is not new, traditional automation has historically been costly and complex to implement. The introduction of RPA has provided companies with a foundational automation software platform that is agile, scalable and can be implemented rapidly at low cost.

So, what exactly is RPA? Primarily, RPA is computer software that companies configure to create a virtual workforce or ‘bots’ that emulate humans based on set rules by using the same user interfaces, applications and tools that a human would use to complete the process.  The bots work 24/7, never make mistakes, and create comprehensive records that ensure transparency.

RPA  is a largely non-intrusive application that sits on top of a company’s infrastructure and has a limited need for IT integration. This allows companies to build and quickly deploy an automated workforce

The eligible processes of RPA

Robotics can be applied across a company’s entire operations and across hundreds of processes – particularly those in the front-to-back and back-office processes.

Take a global bank for example; across their operations we have seen reductions of between 300 and 1000 full-time equivalents (FTEs) for each functional or sub-business line, in areas including payments, banking operations, compliance, data analytics, treasury, and service delivery management.

In the front office, we have seen reductions of 100 to 250 FTEs per sub business line in credit and lending, and in insurance. Similar reductions have been experienced in support functions such as procurement (e.g. Procure to Pay), finance (e.g. Order to Cash), human resources and contact centers.

But not all processes are well suited to RPA. To understand what can be automated through RPA, we generally look at a set of criteria that include:

  • Repetitive processes with high execution volumes
  • Rule-based and not dependent on human judgement
  • Standardised with few exceptions
  • Structured and stable with electronically available data (including digital data inputs and digital outputs)
  • Usage of at least two key systems

In our next blog, we will look at some of the benefits – and limitations – of RPA when it is put to work in real business environments.

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