RPA in the age of hyper-scale, hyper-performance & hyper-personalization

Businesses love robotic process automation (RPA) because the technology is affordable, easy to implement, and its returns are easy to quantify.

Back in 2017, IDC predicted that global RPA software spending would have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 49.3 percent over the next five years, and it predicted that the dollar value of the market would rise by the end of the forecast period in 2022 would be $ 3.7 billion.

As smart RPA begins to grow, companies seem more inclined to accelerate their investments in technology.

In the banking and financial services industry, IDC sees many players advocating intelligent automation impressed by the numerous benefits. Tech Wire Asia spoke to the analyst firm’s Research Manager (Financial Insights), Sneha Kapoor, to better understand smart automation and why companies should consider it.

“[Intelligent RPA essentially comprises of] Software robots that can perform both deterministic and non-deterministic tasks by continuously understanding and analyzing structured and unstructured data.

“They represent rules and judgment-based automation and, like their human counterparts, are both self-learning and self-healing agents who can discover patterns to predict decisions and even make recommendations on how to improve those decisions.”

In comparison, traditional RPA can only automate repetitive tasks.

IDC calls RPA bots “digital workforce” because, particularly in the financial services industry, they are often treated as individual employees with unique employee IDs and unique business application credentials.

In 2017, OCBC Bank (Singapore) named its first digital employees “Bob” and “Zac”. Other examples are “Amy” and “Eve” at UOB Bank (Singapore) and “Alex” at AXA Affin General Insurance (Malaysia).

Why intelligent RPA is incredible

Organizations looking to climb the digital maturity curve and accelerate their journey to Artificial Intelligence (AI) typically find that RPA and then Intelligent RPA is a step towards that goal.

RPA has often been cited as an essential first step towards automation, but we believe it could be more accurately described as part of a continuum of technology-based initiatives to bring information into business process automation.

“IDC Financial Insights defines this continuum of technology-based initiatives focused on process automation as the automation continuum. This continuum also underscores a remarkable evolution in demand and capabilities towards an intelligent digital workforce versus the rule-based digital workforce. “

For anyone evaluating a move to intelligent RPA, two features should be immediately highlighted:

# 1 | Exceptional handover

Traditional RPA usually follow the steps a human takes and repeat them perfectly to achieve a desired result. Exceptions, however, immediately throw a wrench into the works and cause the RPA script / bot to fail.

However, this does not happen with intelligent RPA. Intelligent RPA has cognitive and decision-making functions that make it easy to handle exceptions.

For example, if a customer deviates from the standard format when entering their personal data, intelligent RPA can automatically clean up the data and avoid errors.

# 2 | Task v. Process automation

Despite the name, traditional RPA can only automate tasks, not entire processes. To automate a process, some form of intelligence is required.

If we look at the entire invoicing process, sending an invoice to a customer via email is a task. The task can be automated by automating a number of steps in the overall process.

However, in order to automate the process, a number of inputs must be collected from different departments. There may be some calculations that need to be done to determine the repayment term, etc., and then all of the inputs need to be entered into the system. before an invoice can be created and sent to a customer.

All of these steps, and any exceptions that may result from those steps, make intelligent RPA a better, more logical, and robust choice.

“Ultimately, intelligent RPA has the potential to deliver meaningful customer support, improved decision-making, and valuable customer insights.”

Hyper-scale, hyper-performance and hyper-personalization

In banking and financial services, as well as in sectors such as healthcare and manufacturing, intelligent RPA is seen as the need of the hour.

“At its core, intelligent RPA enables hyper-scale, hyper-performance and hyper-personalization.

“The technology enables banks to provide tailored recommendations to customers visiting a branch or to offer insurance policies that are tailored to a customer’s needs and risk profile. Thanks to intelligent RPA, all of this can be done in seconds and on a large scale. “

In other industries and sectors, the use cases of intelligent RPA are different and only limited by the imagination of process owners and managers.

Kapoor from IDC therefore believes that companies need to get behind the intelligent RPA train and actively map their path to effectively migrate processes. Here are two recommendations she makes for those who hope to give the technology a solid thought in the months to come:

# 1 | Develop the automation vision

Companies have been investing in RPA for more than 24 months. It has been a part of the agenda of most digital transformation forums and conferences lately, whether in Asia or elsewhere.

The battle most companies face with RPA is trying to scale their project company-wide. At this point, they realize that there was no general automation vision and therefore cannot define a strategy.

Given the investments that intelligent automation requires and the extent to which it must be used to truly deliver on promises, a solid automation vision needs to be put together and substantiated beforehand.

# 2 | Place a high value on management sponsorship

Without management support for a smart RPA project, organizations will just take a tactical approach and end up wasting valuable resources.

Given the amount of change that intelligent automation can bring to the workflow of existing employees, the value of management support cannot be overstated.

In order for intelligent RPA to really have an impact on the organization, the support and sponsorship of executives and possibly even the board of directors is mandatory. Ultimately, you need to encourage employees to join the technology – and create changes in their daily tasks and the way they think.

How to Optimize Your Intelligent RPA Deployment

The most valuable advice IDCs Kapoor has for companies looking to get the most out of their RPA solution is:

“Remember, your digital workforce (also known as an intelligent RPA solution) is different from your human workforce. Therefore, your automation solution must aim to redesign your processes rather than just mimicking the steps your people took. “

The point Kapoor strives for is for people to perform tasks based on their own understanding of logic and therefore follow steps that make sense to them.

However, an intelligent system may be able to determine more optimal routes and arrive at the same result. These optimal routes appear to be random to the average human brain, but can result in significantly greater efficiency and overall significantly better results for the business.

Deploying smart RPA on a large scale naturally means creating more governance, but ultimately the net effects on productivity, efficiency, and overall performance are inevitably positive.

Soumik Roy
| @ Soumikroy

Soumik Roy is a business and technology specialist. It helps small and medium-sized businesses understand what is most important to the growth and success of their business.

April 4, 2021