Industry 4.0: Spurring productivity through RPA
For many companies, the “future of work” meant a long-term strategic idea. However, the pandemic has pushed companies into the future of work faster than ever, reports Forrester Consulting, a consulting division at research firm Forrester.
Forrester is known for providing insight into the impact of technology on both its customers and the public. As both automation and the pandemic have changed the way we work, the report expects nearly half (48%) of respondents expect to see spending on robotic process automation (RPA) increase by 5% or more over the next year.
These companies are using RPA to increase the agility and resilience of their supply chain operations, manage cost pressures by automating back office and operational tasks, and support remote workers, the report said.
What is RPA
There are no physical robots in RPA, although the name suggests so.
RPA refers to software robots that are usually built into daily work life to help with repetitive tasks. They are often referred to as digital assistants programmed to use technology like humans.
Global RPA software revenue is projected to reach nearly $ 2 billion in 2021, up 19.5% from 2020, according to Gartner, a global research and consulting firm and a member of the S&P 500.
The report adds that it will continue to grow by double-digit percentages.
“The main driver for RPA projects is their ability to improve process quality, speed and productivity. This becomes increasingly important as companies try to cut costs during Covid-19. The trend is not going to go away anytime soon, ”said Fabrizio Biscotti, research vice president at Gartner.
Automation was a major force in transforming work long before the pandemic. But now RPA is getting a new sense of urgency, says Chris Loo, general manager (Southeast Asia) of UiPath, a global software company developing a platform for RPA.
What can RPA be applied to?
Telkomsel, one of the leading Indonesian telecommunications companies that serves over 170 million customers, happens to be one of UiPath’s customers.
“Telkomsel’s employees looked through hundreds of invoices every day. In the course of the hours monotony and fatigue would set in. Today, that part of their work has been automated and they can work on more value-added tasks like data analysis and exception handling, ”says Loo.
Telekom Malaysia, another UiPath customer, has also started its RPA journey. “There are now over 100 processes in 10 different departments in his automation funnel. This year the group’s IT and digital department is no longer sponsoring the automations. Instead, each department allocated a budget for RPA, ”Loo adds.
What is low code automation?
UiPath recently launched UiPath Apps, a drag-and-drop web-based business application studio that enables citizen developers to build and deploy applications for businesses that deliver automation solutions.
“Automation used to be a ‘top-down’ initiative where management took responsibility and often decided what should and shouldn’t be automated,” says Loo.
Relevance for SMEs
According to Loo, the cost of deploying and implementing RPA has fallen, and unlike large companies, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMBs) are better positioned to implement new technology.
“SMBs have a flatter, more decentralized organizational structure with fewer permits required, which makes it easier to roll out and simplify the test and deployment phases,” he explains.
More importantly, RPA enables SMBs to scale faster by responding quickly to changing market demands. “Automation enables SMEs to scale more sustainably and become more agile as they can better cope with unpredictable events,” adds Loo.
There is a clear need for an employee-sensitive and people-oriented approach to digital transformation. The report also found that a large proportion (57%) of respondents said that employees were either “moderately concerned” or “very concerned” about the impact of automation and the crisis on their ability to do their jobs successfully.
Before attempting process automation, RPA teams should carefully analyze the proposed process, says Loo. The analysis should include a closer look at how the process is working, the perspective of the people, and the underlying rules-driven data to support its potential automation.
It is important that your people have a role to play in automation, he adds. A comprehensive internal rollout strategy should be developed to train and reassure employees, obtain feedback and involve them in the implementation.