RPA Robots are not only spreading in factories, but they are already sitting there in the offices. Of course not in front of the computer, but init. With smart software robots, many office activities can be automated, with monotonous, lengthy tasks done in seconds, and people have more time for more important, more intelligent tasks. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) means not only these three letters but decreasing costs, faster and more efficient work, freed resources, greater accuracy, and compliance.
What comes to mind about a robot? Is it a human-shaped intelligent structure with a metallic shiny cover? Orange welding machine arms? Autonomous drones delivering packages? Some of these are nothing more than glittering dreams, others do their thing deep in factory buildings. But there are robots that are already there in the offices - albeit physically elusive, like an intelligent coffee machine - and they save companies employees a lot of tiring and monotonous working hours. These robots are an emerging new technology, software robotics, or RPA tools.
But what is RPA?
In short, an office process automation technology based on software robots and/or artificial intelligence.
More: A generic tool that uses screen scanning and other technologies to create special bots to automate office activities.
For large companies, the potential of RPA is usually exciting because
- most large, non-technological companies use outdated systems;
- most of the skilled workforce often does easily automated work.
The heightened interest is well illustrated by the fact that the number of Google searches for this term has more than increased 70-fold in the last five years (March 2014 to March 2019), and our RPA technology partner UiPath recently invested nearly $ 600 million. to meet the increased market demands.
Why was RPA so popular?
Because this is currently the most efficient and cost-effective way to automate modern office activities.
This is because:
- Employees today use many more tools (we are talking about an office environment, so we are talking about different software and applications) than before, and these can no longer be automated with simple macros. For example, in 1990, Microsoft Office consisted of three applications: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The 2019 edition of Office already offers nine tools, and at the time we only mentioned one widespread office software. Only a small percentage of software vendors that make such programs offer an application programming interface (API) to their software, without which users are often forced to perform tedious data collection work to complete a task.
- The devices used, especially if they are made with significantly different technologies (mainframe, desktop, cloud) are difficult or impossible to integrate,
- Outsourcing has lost or is beginning to lose its former benefits. Today, far fewer business process outsourcing (BPO) companies are outsourced for manual operations than in the 1990s and 2000s because among other things:
- reduced opportunities for arbitrage,
- organizing outsourcing also requires expensive labor,
- in emerging / developing countries, where this outsourcing has been directed primarily, although the pay is rising.
Specifically, what can RPA do completely automatically, without human intervention?
- to open e-mail attachments;
- access to web and custom enterprise applications;
- data copying between applications, data synchronization;
- to copy and move files and folders;
- to fill in forms;
- to read, create and query databases;
- to collect data from the Internet, to perform calculations on it;
- to extract data organized from documents;
- to collect social media statistics;
- to follow conditional ‘if-then’ decisions / rules.
In this way, RPA offers many benefits to businesses:
- a whole range of processes can be accelerated with their help;
- achieve significant cost savings - by supporting robots, workers can focus on more important tasks;
- to reduce the chances of errors - there should be no erroneous data entered, a line looked aside, no matter how monotonous the given workflow;
- minimize the chances of people coming into contact with sensitive data - excludes the possibility of possible misuse (GDPR);
- increase organizational flexibility - automating as many processes as possible involves the integration of internal systems, platforms, programs and applications, creating a kind of flexible framework that can be easily adapted to today’s rapidly changing circumstances.
And that's not all. Based on the results of interviews with companies introducing RPA:
- companies spending on RPA development achieved a 30-200 percent rate of return in the first year;
- industries operating under strict standards - insurance, banking - have found a quick, accurate and cheap solution in terms of compliance;
- the quality of customer service has improved in companies, more human resources can be spent on solving more complex ones by automating simpler issues;
- the workers were also pleased with its introduction because it took many fussy, monotonous tasks off their shoulders.
Of course, RPA also carries risks. This is because the system literally interprets all commands and only them. In cases where people instinctively follow certain rules while working, these - because they do not appear consciously - may be left out of the parameters of automation, which can cause complications and errors in its operation. To avoid this, you need to thoroughly analyze the job in question, map out the processes you want to automate, take the time to test, and ask your supplier for support to ensure that the robots can be fine-tuned quickly and efficiently.
With more than ten years of process management experience, more and more of Mortoff’s customers are also looking for RPA opportunities. We successfully serve their process automation needs using the market-leading RPA tool, UiPath.