The automation of business processes is at a tipping point
Automation continues to come to the business field, and more powerful solutions are being released on a regular basis. A relatively new automation paradigm, robotic process automation, is proving to be a powerful tool across a surprisingly broad range of domains. Here are a few facts about RPA and why it’s likely to find its way into offices around the globe.
When thinking about robots, most imagine physical automatons capable of performing tasks. RPA, on the other hand, is a software solution that doesn’t entail bringing in a metallic coworker. However, RPA learns to perform tasks by watching humans interact with systems, and these tools interact with programs the same way humans do: by moving the cursor, clicking, and typing. Software automation is typically done through APIs and through other programmatic solutions, while RPA operates by simulating a robotic computer user.
The primary advantage of RPA is its ease of use. Programming automated software is difficult, and RPA provides an alternative by learning through example. This enables business experts to work with RPA instead of having to bring in programmers, which lets companies’ IT staff focus on other tasks. Furthermore, RPA provides a general-purpose interface, making it compatible with a wide range of programs. Even if a specific program isn’t designed to be automated, RPA tools can provide an interface.
Another primary benefit of RPA is its low risk. Because it’s a software tool, RPA doesn’t require expensive hardware that may or may not pay for itself over time. Furthermore, it’s easy to start small and experiment to find out if RPA is appropriate for certain business tasks. Experience also helps companies make the most of their software; as employees become familiar with RPA, they’ll be better able to leverage it in other areas. For companies that have multiple office locations, it’s easy to send RPA instructions to other branches.
Arvind Mehrotra, President of Infrastructure Management Solutions at one of India’s leading RPA providers, NIIT Technologies, believes automation and RPA “definitely bring a huge opportunity for organisations to drive change”
Once the cost out is defined, the process re-engineering comes into play, which means that not only do you have to redefine your model, but you have to retrain your staff. Step three is programming the bot. That will have to be done over a period of time as it needs to learn.
As with everything that includes the term “robot,” there is considerable debate about how RPA will affect jobs. RPA excels at more straightforward tasks, and it’s able to replace humans for some back-office uses. However, it also enables employees to focus on tasks that require human intervention. Furthermore, RPA lets businesses cut labor costs and invest in other areas, and the potential growth it enables can lead to more jobs in the future. While RPA will play a role in office across the globe, experts don’t believe it will lead to significantly fewer jobs over the long-term.
Artificial intelligence is carving out niches throughout offices, and this trend will only continue for the foreseeable future. While RPA is only one AI and automation paradigm among many, it’s also one of the most versatile. Even if a business isn’t planning on investing heavily into automation, it’s worth taking time to explore if RPA can play a role in the office.
We spoke to depth to Arvind about NIIT Technologies work in driving innotive RPA use, and whether it has the potential to change how businesses operate. Listen below or on Apple Podcasts.