A Look Into RPA at Work in the Enterprise
PHOTO: Matthew Hurst
Robotic process automation (RPA) plays a key role in digital transformation. Some companies are already enjoying the benefits of established RPA implementations. COVID-19 is forcing many to look for new technology and, according to Cathy Tornbohm, respected vice president analyst at Gartner, RPA is among the most sought-after.
“The reduced reliance on human labor for routine digital processes will be more attractive to end users not only to cut costs, but also to insure their business against future impacts like this pandemic,” Tornbohm said in a statement. Gartner predicts that large companies will triple the capacity of their existing RPA portfolios by 2024. The majority of the “new” spending is made by large corporations purchasing additional capacity from their original provider or partner within the ecosystem.
As businesses grow, they need to add licenses to run RPA software on additional servers and add additional cores to handle the load, according to Gartner. This trend naturally reflects the increasing demands placed on a company’s infrastructure everywhere. Where are these RPA supplements used?
Using RPA to Improve Processes
Companies are leveraging RPA as a digital workforce that performs a variety of time-consuming manual tasks and enables human workers to focus on more strategic and rewarding work, said Chris Huff, chief strategy officer for Kofax in Irvine, California. One of the emerging trends is the use of low-code RPA solutions that allow citizen developers, administrators, and professional developers to cater to their specific business needs and make processes more efficient.
However, today’s businesses recognize that RPA has real value when it is used for “task automation” as part of a larger digital workflow transformation. This supports Gartner’s concept of hyper-automation, in which RPA is part of a larger, more integrated intelligent automation platform.
In this context, companies can get more value from their documents by using RPA-based software robots in conjunction with cognitive capture to read, understand, classify, extract and learn documents on the fly. This provides companies with a wealth of insight into the data that their RPA robots process.
Related article: BPA vs. RPA: How Are They Similar, How Are They Different?
Understand RPA and data
The pandemic has helped force companies to reassess their automation needs, agreed Bill Galusha, senior director at ABBYY in Milpitas, California. “The really big area of expansion for RPA over the next three years will be a new wave of digital workers who think and act based on data understanding and get smarter over time,” he said.
These digital workers will incorporate the skills of learning and extracting relevant data for unstructured content such as documents, videos and photos. This direction likely opens the door to more complex use cases in areas where not only is data structured and processed, but advanced analytics are also applied to make informed business decisions.
To do this, the digital worker must understand the entities and the relationship between data and combine them with other digital sources that determine the decisions. There is a long list of very complex document and data-driven applications in areas such as tax, fraud, customer identity verification, compliance, and governance.
Related article: Navigating RPA Potholes on the Bumpy Road to Digital Transformation
Connect business applications
Despite fears of economic instability emerging and concerns about how exactly new technology will affect current jobs, automation plays an important role in helping organizations get the most out of their technology and people. San Francisco-based CEO and founder of Tray.io, Rich Waldron told us.
Unlike some forms of robotic automation that may ultimately replace people’s jobs, general automation could be a job creation category that will have a lasting impact on the work landscape, argued Waldron. As companies around the world try to get the most out of their current software solutions, empowering citizen vending teams that can independently integrate their own tech stacks and build their own automated workflows is more important than ever.
“By combining automation with API-level integrations, business professionals can connect their mission-critical business applications to allow data to flow and synchronize freely,” he added. “Increase in productivity and time savings for employees so that they can concentrate on more strategic and revenue-generating activities – without cutting jobs.”
Which departments are already using RPA?
1. Human Resources
RPA can reduce the large number of repetitive tasks that HR staff must perform. By automating payroll, performance registration, compliance reporting, and onboarding, departments can save significant time and effort and significantly reduce the error rate.
2. IT department
Routine system monitoring and maintenance is time consuming. Organizations can use RPA to perform routine testing of applications, servers, and other systems to ensure they are functioning properly, and configure the system to notify the team when problems are detected.
3. Legal Department
Automation in the legal industry can be valuable as it frees attorneys and their staff from tasks like timesheets, paperwork, etc. With the help of RPA, huge databases, which can be time consuming and tedious, can be properly structured.
4. Accounting department
Various end-to-end processes such as the data record to be reported and the payment method in accounting are ripe for RPA. For example, invoicing processes can be optimized using RPA. When it comes to recruiting new suppliers, it has to be done manually, but their review process can be automated using RPA.