2020 has changed the lives of many – and for several companies across the globe, it meant adapting to different technologies and tweaking their business models to survive. RPA – ‘Robotic Process Automation’ has been in high demand even before the pandemic and during it despite the uncertainties that came along in this period. Despite the economic pressures caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, several market research pioneers including Gartner, predict the RPA market to grow at double-digit rates through 2024.
A lot of us may have heard the term RPA being referenced in many contexts. What then is RPA and what is the buzz surrounding this term?
In plain language, RPA is the practice of creating software robots (or simply “bots”) that can learn and mimic repetitive, manual, time-taking tasks which are generally performed by humans. Business processes get automated by these programmed “bots” and hence the name ‘Robotic Process Automation’. A simple example can be reading and extracting specific information from thousands of forms (both in digital and paper forms), and further process relevant information – enhancing and expediting the entire process, which would be a tedious, time taking task if performed by a human.
Now that we know what RPA is, let us examine why organizations across industries need it and why they should consider investing in this technology?
There are numerous benefits to implementing RPA solutions, and the best part is that these are incremental in nature – one benefit would automatically lead to several others, depending on the nature of the business. But to mention a few which would apply to businesses of all nature:
· Process times are cut down significantly – tasks which would otherwise take hours or days, can be completed within seconds or minutes
· Employees need not spend time on manual repetitive tasks – and can focus on more important, qualitative tasks. This would also mean lesser human errors in the entire process
· Modern RPA solutions are generally easy to implement within an organization’s existing IT infrastructure and are highly scalable and adaptable to changing environments
· All the above-mentioned advantages would naturally lead to reduced costs, better customer experience, improved process efficiency, and a myriad of other benefits!
I won’t dive deep into how RPA works in this piece, but to give an overview – RPA bots can log into any third-party application, connect to system APIs, and allow users to build workflows such as moving files and folders, reading, copying and pasting data, scraping browsers etc.
Businesses are facing highly unprecedented circumstances due to the pandemic, but what does this mean for organizations seeking to adopt RPA solutions? Should CTOs/CIOs/CXOs invest in technology when revenue streams are probably taking a hit?
There would be multiple perspectives on this, but from what Gartner predicts in its latest report – Global robotic process automation (RPA) software revenue is projected to reach $1.89 billion in 2021, an increase of 19.5% from 2020. These predictions are based on the fact that businesses have started to reshape their operations due to the pandemic. Remote working environments have forced companies to think unconventionally and increasingly adopt automation solution. SMEs and large enterprises that implemented RPA before COVID have successfully maintained a lean team throughout 2020.
One interesting point worth mentioning is that the service segment of RPA accounted for more than 60-65% of the revenue share compared to the software segment that accounted for the rest. This is probably because service providers generally understand the IT landscape of a business, identify automation opportunities and then implement RPA.
This year, the RPA vendor selection process would become more meaningful for CTOs/CIOs. The two major differentiating factors they would look for, I believe, will be how quickly and seamlessly the RPA product/service can bring about the operational transformation at their organization and relevant use cases the vendor has.
I definitely see more firms investing in RPA this year, that too through service vendors, even amidst the uncertainties of the pandemic, as the benefits and returns are too good to let go of!
To know how we reduced manual tasks for our clients in the manufacturing and financial industries, click here.