9 Benefits You Get from Robotic Process Automation
Cheaper, Faster, Better.
In a nutshell, this is what you can be with Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
What is RPA?
RPA is an emerging automation technology that manages, executes and monitors any front-office and back-office processes that do not require human judgment, allowing employees to focus on the more sophisticated tasks.
With RPA, you can automate structured, repetitive tasks, enabling your organization to achieve better productivity, speed and accuracy.
A simple analogy is that RPA automates clerical tasks in your digital office the way industrial robotics automates production in your shop floor.
Lowers your manpower costs (aka cheaper)
According to studies, the annual operating expenses of a software bot (or simply bot) ranges from one-ninth the fully loaded wage of an onshore Full Time Equivalent (FTE) to one-third that of an offshore FTE.
In other words, conservatively, there is a potential savings of 67% from manpower costs alone with RPA. Of course, a caveat has to be added here that actual savings depend on a multitude of factors which is beyond the scope of this article.
Nevertheless, if done right, RPA has the potential to significantly boost your company’s bottom line. And hence the viability of your business model.
Gets work done instantly (aka faster)
In this age of instant gratification and the ‘Now’ economy, speed is everything.
As Rupert Murdoch remarked, “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”
Suffice to say, bots have the ability to execute most tasks much faster than humans can ever achieve with their two hands.
For your business, this can translate to a faster Go-To-Market or increased customer satisfaction and retention. In other words, a more desirable business.
No more errors (aka better)
Every now and then, you would hear stories in the media about the fat fingers of some anonymous traders which resulted in millions of losses for the companies involved.
While overly sensationalized and rather extreme, fact is that employees all over the world are making basic data entry and processing errors every single day. Beyond the financial consequences, there are also compliance implications for companies in highly regulated industries like banking or healthcare.
For many, eliminating errors through bots is often the only feasible solution.
Think about it. An employee typically works around forty hours a week (somewhat less in certain jurisdictions).
Compare that with a bot which works 24/7 in steady state. No lunch, smoke or toilet breaks, annual leave, medical leave and the like. All legally, of course.
Simple math will have informed you that this translates to a 4.2x gain in productivity.
Combined with the faster processing which we discussed earlier, the productivity gains can be as high as 24x. Magical!
Scale up and down easily
One of the chicken-and-egg challenges companies face is that of capacity. Too little and you need to grapple with costly overtime pay. Too much and you will have idle resources lying around.
And in this Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) economy, business cyclicality and seasonality is only going to get more pronounced.
With a traditional labour force, it is almost impossible to achieve the flexibility and nimbleness to scale up or down based on market demand. At least not if you do not wish to run afoul of labour regulations.
With bots and in particular, Bots on Demand or Bots-as-a-Service, you now have the ability to provision for additional digital workers near instantaneously, if and when you need it.
And because you only pay for what you consume, there are no penalties for downsizing or scaling down.
Improve employee satisfaction
Attracting and retaining employees, especially millennials, is a perennial issue that all organizations faced. How to engage and empower your employees, with their varied expectations and aspirations, is a question that needs to be addressed urgently.
As evidenced by the rise of the gig economy, employees of today wish to be empowered to make a difference. They are no longer satisfied with performing monotonous, dreary assembly line-like work such as data entry and handling.
Unfortunately, due to the existence of disparate IT systems within many organizations that still cannot or will not talk to each other, employees spend a good part of their working day stifled with mundane tasks.
With RPA, bots can now take over this grunt work, freeing up employees to perform higher value-added and more meaningful, differentiated activities. As a result, not only do their productivity go up, the employees are more satisfied and engaged as well.
Do better with less
A 24x gain in productivity at one-third the cost? Enough said.
And because RPA implementations typically follow an agile methodology, you can realize these benefits in a matter of days or weeks, not months or years.
Be digital ready
So much has been said about digital transformation. So little has been understood.
Well, RPA is a tool for you to pivot to a truly digital operation. From a labour-intensive business model of people (lots of them) following processes and supported by technology, to a techno-centric model with technology or digital workforce (lots of them) following processes and supervised by humans (yay!).
Be future proof
And ultimately, you want to be future proof. As one vendor puts it, "RPA is the “first step on the capability stairway to digital operations”. By adding cognitive capabilities and Artificial Intelligence to these bots, the range of tasks that can be fully automated will only grow.
One suspects that we are only scratching the surface currently. As they say, the best is yet to be.
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