RPA is here, and it’s here to stay.
According to MarketWatch, more than 50 percent of enterprises have adopted Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and in five years the market is going to be saturated.
The benefits of RPA adoption are significant. In a Deloitte report, payback was reported at less than 12 months, with an average 20% of full-time equivalent (FTE) capacity added provided by bots. RPA continues to meet and exceed expectations across multiple dimensions, including improved compliance (92%), improved quality/accuracy (90%), improved productivity (86%), and reduced cost (59%).
There have been many success stories. Sprint’s company-wide Automation Anywhere RPA program kicked off late in 2018, with the target to automate 50 use cases as quickly as possible — the first project with unprecedented scope and timeline. More than 50 additional use cases are in the development pipeline, and as the company’s understanding of RPA capabilities grows, new ideas on how to apply automation are multiplying. As of 2020, it has already saved 20,000 hours of manual human labor time.
Dell found 85% efficiency gains when it deployed RPA to automate 30 HR processes with 150 RPA software robots (“bots”) within Workday in 2019. And Santander Consumer Bank saved $2 million on a systems migration that it automated with 150 RPA bots.
Despite all these public success stories, misconceptions about RPA are still around. Here are five of those myths that we debunk in this blog.
Myth #1: RPA will destroy jobs
What’s really happening is that jobs are improving. Employees — freed from mundane, repetitive tasks — can focus on creative, strategic, and innovative interesting work. As a result, they’re more satisfied with their jobs. A Forbes survey found that 92% of employees were more satisfied as a result of RPA initiatives at their organizations. Just imagine how much you could accomplish if you didn’t have to spend hours on repetitive work?
RPA has also created new job opportunities. As with the booming growth of the market, companies are actively seeking employees to help them with RPA implementation and management. Jobs such as RPA developer, RPA analyst, and other RPA-related jobs are on the rise.
Myth #2: RPA = machines
One of the more persistent myths is that RPA is a “physical” technology. Hearing the words robotic or robots, people tend to imagine something out of 1950s Hollywood, with metal human-shaped robots bending over keyboards, metallic fingers ready to type.
But RPA is software, not hardware. It automates through algorithms, data entry, and clicks, and copy-and-paste activities that humans routinely do at keyboards. Imagine if someone shadowed you through your job and then copied what you did at the computer — or laptop, tablet, or smartphone — to complete a task. That’s RPA. It imitates what you do through software. Now, there’s also intelligent RPA, discussed in Myth #5, which can do much, much more — but also with just software. No hardware involved, ever.
Myth #3: RPA costs too much
Yes, as with any technology, RPA requires a financial investment. And, as with any investment, you can expect an ROI. Numerous studies have found that the ROI of RPA is much faster and higher than with many other emerging technologies that can take years to return a payoff — if at all.
Myth #4: RPA is only good for cost reduction
Despite the arguments when debunking Myth #3, it’s actually a mistake to focus on cost-cutting alone when deploying RPA. That’s because although many organizations embark on their RPA journeys with the hope of saving costs, they quickly realize other, even more, important benefits.
Here’s a summary of some of the other benefits of RPA.
- Improve operational efficiencies. Things move faster with RPA. You eliminate unnecessary tasks and delays from processes.
- Improve employee productivity. Bots automate tasks. Think of them as digital assistants. And as assistants, they bolster employee productivity, sometimes by orders of magnitude, by eliminating the tedious, repetitive work that is the bane of every employee’s existence.
- Eliminate errors. Bots make fewer errors than their human counterparts. They do what they are programmed to do. Processes that are error-prone, because they are boring and repetitive or require a lot of complex keystrokes or involve calculations that humans have to make on the fly, are performed flawlessly every time.
- Enhance customer service quality. Whether you are serving internal or external customers, they’re much more satisfied getting faster, errorless results from their queries if bots automate even some of the processes involved. And since bots can aggregate all the information for agents, customers don’t have to answer the same questions many times, making them even happier with your service.
- Increase compliance. Because you get an error-free record of everything that is done — in most cases, with access to automated reports that document all bot activities — you don’t have to worry about complying with internal, industry, or government regulations.
Myth #5: RPA is just for simple tasks
So far, the discussion has been about traditional RPA. But that is just the beginning of your RPA journey. By melding together artificial intelligence (AI) technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing, you get intelligent automation, which allows you to do end-to-end business process automation and automate much more complex tasks.
Intelligent automation is capable of automating virtually any front- or back-office business process and even orchestrating work across combined teams of bots and humans. What this means is that intelligent automation can take structured and unstructured data, analyze it, make decisions based on it, and also learn from it — so the more data it ingests, the better it gets at its job. This is different from vanilla RPA, which can only process structured data in highly organized, prescribed steps. Unstructured data capable of being processed by intelligent automation includes human chat conversations, audio, video, and social media, which greatly expands RPA’s scope.
Intelligent automation can offer advanced analytics to help you gain operational and business intelligence. It can provide insight regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of your Digital Workforce and quantify the operational performance of your business processes. It can reveal what’s meaningful and predict what’s to come.
Now you know the facts, it’s time to get moving
With these most common RPA myths debunked, what are you waiting for? RPA is going mainstream fast, and chances are your competitors are already using it. It’s the only way to keep up in these fast-changing times.