Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technologies have been in vogue since the 2000’s, the last few years have seen meaningful growth, driven predominantly by the manufacturing, financial services and healthcare industries.
The Admiration Behind RPA
RPA is a boon to business enterprises as it eliminates monotonous work through automation and makes employee hours free to be dedicated to innovative, productive and value-added solutions involving the human mind. This technology can lead to higher first-year ROIs, improve compliance, and operational efficiencies. Benefits of RPA technology also add to the customers, including faster and accurate information delivery, 24/7 customer service availability and improved logistics.
RPA, an indispensable technology surrounding the business world comes with its own share of hypes and myths, here are few:
Myth #1: RPA will Automate and Replace Human Workforce
With the new technology revolution spearhead by Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, there’s a concern among the workforce that RPA will replace the human workforce. In reality, RPA will indeed automate high volume tasks thereby reducing the need for repetitive human effort. Thus, RPA replacing the workforce is a pure myth, rather than removing humans from their workplace, RPA will liberate them from the regular and repetitive tasks to make them focus on more value-added work which involves cognitive thinking.
This will mean the human mind will gain more time for innovation, managerial or supervisory roles. The human workforce will be engaged to orchestrate, monitor and train the robots through the assembly line.
Myth#2: RPA is Always a Cost-Effective Solution
RPA will reduce costs through automation, but it may not always be a full proof cost-effective solution. Massive investments lie behind implementing RPA for business, which includes buying RPA solutions and changing the work culture to suit its effective implementation. In addition, RPA has its initial implementation costs, regular running and operational bills and consultancy costs from partner companies that prove to be expensive to the business enterprise. Even when the work done involves human critical thinking like customer relationship management, RPA may prove to be a costly solution than the human workforce.
Myth#3: RPA Implementation is Fast and Quick
RPA is remarkably effective, but it involves time costs for implementation and comes with its own learning curve for initial implementation. Learning costs are time-consuming as any slight variation in a regular process may prove to be a roadblock for a programmed robot. Humans are not standardized, and each individual has his/her own way of doing things and adjusting to situations but that may not happen with RPA as it is programmed to follow a set of rules defined. A sudden glitch or a deviation may involve robot learning curve to be re-programmed adding to valuable time list for an organization.
Myth#4: RPA Solutions Do Not Fit to Every Business Domain
This is a common misconception that RPA can only be deployed to certain industries exclusively. However, Robots can be programmed to do almost any repetitive, rules-based, high-volume, business activity. RPA can be a boon to the insurance industry to manage claims processing, order processing and customer query management in retail, fraud detection in banking and so on. To fit and customize RPA into any business would involve time and monetary costs as discussed above and organizations must be willing to loosen their purse strings to fit RPA into their business to drive customer experience.
Myth#5: RPA Can Automate All the Work Without IT Intervention
Although RPA is perfect for regular work process, there are limitations to the types of tasks RPA can master, specifically the ones that need human judgment and decision-making. RPA becomes interestingly difficult where processes are non-standardised. Another myth surrounding RPA includes the involvement of IT in its smooth operation. Although RPA minimizes the need for costly systems integration, the initial RPA adoption and setup is taken up by the IT department. The IT department is behind the infrastructure requirements and applies roles and permissions to a robotic user account an essential requirement to RPA implementation. Thus in any business enterprise, IT must be involved and fully supportive at the outset of any RPA initiative.
RPA is an important technology that will assist business enterprises re-think their workforce and human capital requirements, before going down that road, it is important to ask whether there is an urgent need for work automation or it can be achieved by reorganizing or redesigning the process itself. Answering these questions will be imperative for any business organization to identify the process/task/activity it is looking at for an effective RPA implementation.