Understanding Robotic Process Automation — It's Future and Limitations
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a form of AI technology that allow firms to automate monotonous repetitive tasks.
The third industrial revolution or the digital revolution enabled us, humans, to do complicated tasks easily with the help of powerful machines. The kind of works that previously took several months to complete is completed in a matter of days with the help of computers. The era gave humanity a great leap. Businesses, organizations, the standard of living, and all other aspects of human lives improved.
And today, we’re on the cusp of the very next revolution, the fourth industrial revolution. An era where humans are no more needed to operate machines and computers to complete tasks. An era where machines can automate complicated, repetitive, monotonous works, and liberate humans from boring jobs, enable them to engage in high-value tasks and other creative works.
RPA or Robotic Process Automation is a progressing opportunity for businesses, governments, and any entity that employs humans for monotonous repetitive works. RPA can mimic human actions and automate repetitive tasks to improve operations efficiency, effectiveness, and data security.
RPA & AI, are the same?
RPA is a software that copies human behavior or actions. It can automate tasks based on pre-defined rules, whereas AI is a broad term where a machine simulates human intelligence such as sensing things, making deductions, and communicate.
AI is not a necessity for all RPA use cases
AI-powered RPA can automate even complex tasks
For example, verifying the authenticity of identity cards is a tedious process. Organizations employ security officers to collect id cards from visitors, match it with their records, and verify its authenticity. Now, if we need to automate such a task, the machine should be able to analyze the id card and understand what is printed on it, so that it can compare it with the data available in the database. So AI helps machines to automate such tasks by its cognitive capabilities. Without AI, automation of these types of tasks is not possible, and a human would need to spend their 9–5 in executing such mediocre jobs.
Need a detailed explanation? Read more on how RPA is different from AI
According to a Deloitte Consulting report, RPA takes only one-third of the time taken by a human to execute a transaction. Data entry across multiple systems, checking different data sources for KYC, consolidating summary for reports from multiple counties can be performed by automation. The accuracy of the transactions is doubled as the human errors in tasks are ruled out by RPA systems. However, the key benefit of implementing RPA systems across an organization is it’s 24*7*365 days of availability, of course without weekends and holidays.
Artificial Intelligence is all about enabling machines to think or to make decisions on their own. RPA enables machines to perform repetitive tasks on their own without the need for human involvement. So, a mix of these two technologies will open a wide range of possibilities for businesses. AI-powered RPA can automate tedious tasks such as verifying the authenticity of signatures in bank cheques, information retrieval from photographed documents, invoice processing, etc.
Advancements in hardware innovation along with AI integrated RPA solutions enable healthcare diagnostic processes to be automated significantly. With highly precise image analysis capabilities powered by AI and faster completion of sample analysis by a robot, detection of dangerous medical conditions like breast cancer, diabetes, liver disorders, etc. can be speeded up. In the long run, these would result in portable home-kits for people to do their check-ups at home and identify such medical disorders in earlier stages when they are easier to cure.
Read more on how AI-powered RPA solutions can enhance your business productivity.
Automating Customer Service
By embracing Robotic Process Automation, your business can create a much more rewarding experience for your customers. From increased speed in handling customer queries to personalized customer support, RPA can make a real difference to how your business serves its customers.
Reduce queries handling time: Through the rapid categorization of customer inquiries, RPA can direct the e-mail to the right department of the organization. This can boost agent capacity by nearly 40%
Automation of queries addressed: Repetitive questions that require similar answers can be taken care of with an RPA solution. This enables organizations to deal with volume spikes and staff shortages.
Easy access to information: AI can recommend the right answers to your agents so that they won’t have to comb through articles or archives to find relevant information
Enhanced customer and employee satisfaction: AI solutions can help reduce the load of employees and provide customers with prompt service at the click of a button
Read more on how to Automating Customer Service using Hybrid AI chatbots and conversational tools
Different industries have taken an agnostic approach for RPA automation. As long as manual repetitive activities exist in an organization, there is a potential for automation. Some application examples include statement reconciliation, account closing and opening or account audit requirements in the finance department, order management in the supply chain, timesheet administration, and on- and off-boarding procedures in human resources and data cleansing or system maintenance in the IT department.
With the growing market for automation, companies have started to employ RPA along with cognitive technologies like speech recognition, machine learning to automate continuous and judgment-based tasks once performed by humans. For example, Blue Prism and IBM Watson have partnered to bring cognitive capabilities to their clients. Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is one of the leading insurance firms in Japan that claims to have increased their productivity by 30% and saved up to $1.3 million per year with job automation.
Today, RPA is part of the social-technological paradigm and comes with a challenge of its implementation. Whenever technology has disrupted any industry ( like ATM in the banking sector) the concern about job losses has been expressed. Research by the U.S Census Bureau reveals that since 1980, the jobs with above-median computer use has grown faster than below-median computer use jobs ( 1.61% growth to 0.74%). As the market goes innovative, the expectations from employment also drive up. From the company’s perspective, RPA improves the performance and cost goes down leading to an overall improvement in the center’s performance. Meanwhile, employees can upskill themselves and engage in the analysis and implementation of the automated works. Thereby, RPA would only redefine employment opportunities and not replace them.
Change is the constant and the only way out is to adapt.
A study by the Institute for Robotics Process Automation predicts that over 100 million existing full-time equivalents could be redefined by automation. The leaders and the employees should understand the dynamics of changing landscapes in the digital evolution and prepare. With its non-evasive nature, leaders look forward to strategizing and implementing RPA at a larger scale. They can be strong pillars to the digitization and tap the potentials of cognitive technologies.
To get deeper insights into robotic process automation and its importance in business, this article would be helpful: