How Siam Commercial Bank and others harness RPA to its fullest value

Chingyao Yang, Senior Automation Engineer at Just, uses a robotic arm at corporate headquarters in San Francisco. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP)

Even before the global pandemic broke out, companies were already under pressure to understand the truth about digital transformation: In order to achieve scalable growth, robotic process automation (RPA) would have to be used at some point. But how do you know when to deploy RPA with maximum efficiency?

When COVID-19 hit, executives had to rethink the future of work and take stock of their digital transformation efforts. Some CIOs have a natural tendency to shut the hatches in times of crisis by cutting costs or reducing risks. However, a Gartner report found that this approach limits a company’s ability to thrive. In contrast, companies that are considered “fit” took a different approach and emerged stronger from crises.

The two camps

An ongoing series of research between Blue Prism and Knowledge Capital Partners (KCP) that looked at companies that either accelerated their adoption of automation or huddled together found that after the pandemic, 85% of companies were playing It’s Sure, while 15% were brave in their automation efforts. And there was a clear breakdown of the results.

For the 15% of companies that continued to invest heavily in automation, the research found that RPA has become a critical execution platform that plays a vital role in the company’s strategic goal of creating value for its stakeholders. By harnessing the potential of RPA to create “smart automations” and integrating RPA with advanced cognitive technologies, these companies can break free from the limitations of legacy systems, implement innovative solutions that improve productivity, and create new services by creating powerful systems develop customer experiences.

On the flip side, 85% of companies that have huddled by either slowing down their automation strategies or investing in the minimum necessary to run their business are usually in a phase marked only by efficiency and short-term gains. While digital transformation efforts may still be ongoing at this stage, they lack connectivity as they are likely to be driven from different locations with different budgets.

Therein lies the risk of reducing the company’s focus to a bottom-up approach to using automation to increase efficiency. These companies are limited to extracting the full business value of RPA – this is akin to early signs of the potential to gain 500% more value if they grew up instead, according to the KCP. Additionally, the research suggests something more worrying: Without sufficient strategic investment in digital technology, these companies will become significantly and potentially irreversibly less competitive than other leaders in automation over the next five years.

The effects of growing up

To “make it big”, organizations must appreciate and realize the tremendous potential value of RPA and other technologies for creating efficiency, effectiveness, and activation benefits. Here are two organizations that recognized the problem and the opportunity:

  • When the pandemic sparked measures by the Thai government to ease financial burdens, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), Thailand’s oldest financial institution, had to step in to help customers access this relief. With the number of requests increasing, the bank made every effort to process these requests in a timely manner to ensure immediate repayment. By recruiting additional digital employees, which are essentially a scalable team of software robots with little or no code, into the workforce, SCB developed an optimization and provisioning process to book customer applications in the system. By the end of a month, the company was able to process over 100,000 applications, which relieved employees considerably and looked after its customers in this critical phase.
  • Telefónica, like any other telecommunications company in the world, saw a sharp increase in bandwidth demand as mobility and social distancing restrictions forced people to adapt to the distance learning and working model. While deployments have already been made in automation-friendly areas such as finance, commerce, and operations, simplifying customer loyalty during the pandemic was critical to managing Telefónica’s extensive customer base. Digital workers were used to answer more than 100,000 inquiries a day. Automating manual tasks has reduced the time employees spend on each call by 30 to 50%, giving them more time and space to connect with some of Telefónica’s key customers.

Lessons from the pandemic have made RPA an important match for companies looking to strengthen their current and future business agility and resilience. The research is undeniable – automation is a critical component in achieving competitiveness and differentiation. Companies that have huddled together or have been slow to embark on their digital transformation journey need to leverage the strategic business opportunity and fast time to value of RPA, or else they run the risk of falling further behind the pack.

Article by Dan Ternes, Chief Technology Officer, Asia Pacific, Blue Prism

Joe Devanesan
| @ thecrystalcrown

Joe’s interest in technology began when he first saw footage of the Apollo space missions as a child. He’s still hoping to see either the first man on Mars or Jetson’s flying cars in his life.

May 28, 2021