Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of the most exciting recent technological developments. Though the basic technology has been around for a while, this latest wave of RPA innovations has flourished as a result of an increased maturity in both technology and the business processes it is applied to. The rise of RPA cannot be ignored considering its growing adoption in businesses of every industry.
Let’s first define this game-changing technology. In the most basic form, RPA is the practice of automating routine business processes using “software robots” that don’t require human intervention. Advances in artificial intelligence have made it possible to automate mundane, routine, and standardized clerical tasks. Essentially a RPA bot is allowed to manage processes such as manipulating data, executing transactions, triggering responses, and communicating with other digital systems within a domain.
A KPMG report makes the startling claim that labor automation through RPA can reduce an organization’s operational costs by 75 percent. A bold but believable statement!
This technology is rapidly gaining popularity predominantly in the customer service, financial services, and healthcare verticals where the opportunity to achieve great RPA benefits in a short time frame is huge.
Some of the top applications of RPA include:
Customer service: RPA can automate routine contact center tasks including verifying e-signatures, validating customer information for automatic approvals or rejections, and uploading scanned documents, thus offering better customer service.
Financial services: RPA has the ability to handle foreign exchange payments, automate account openings or closings, and process insurance claims.
Healthcare: RPA can help in handling patient records, claims, customer support, account management, billing, and reporting.
Below are just 6 of the many benefits RPA provides. Business leaders who are still on the fence about RPA will see that this technology is worth the investment
The initial cost incurred while purchasing and installing a robotic system may be considerable, but in the long run, the cost of a robot is 1/3rd the cost of an offshore employee. It has been estimated that using robotics cuts operational costs by as much as 25-50%. Robotic technology can operate faster, and run round-the-clock without taking breaks or leave, enabling businesses to achieve greater output for less and resulting in quick visible gains.
Increased Quality and Accuracy
Let’s face it, processes managed and run by even the most careful human can be error-prone. On average, 80% of all industrial accidents are caused at least partially by human error, and 50-70% of all electronic equipment failures are caused by human error (Source).
With appropriate RPA technology in place, work is performed free of errors. While human FTEs can make data entry mistakes, robots are able to accurately perform the same task the same way every time. RPA improves the quality of output drastically by producing 100% accuracy in the process results.
Throughout the automation process, RPA captures and removes data gaps between disparate sources and records every action accomplished. This empowers employees to proactively identify and handle compliance issues, if any. Businesses across every industry can benefit with these standard RPA features, whether it’s a healthcare firm obligated to meet privacy regulations, or a financial institution required to be PCI compliant.
Improved Customer Experience
Because RPA enables organizations to consistently deliver better quality work, with higher accuracy and speed, customers receive better products and service in a timely manner. This improvement in customer experience leads to increased customer satisfaction.
Let us consider the customer journey for “loan processing” as an example. Traditionally, this required the customer to fill out several forms and submit the required set of documents at the bank. These would be then sent for processing to the necessary departments where someone would re-enter the details and then send to back-office managers for approval. The overall procedure requires the customer to wait a considerable amount of time before he or she receives the status of the loan application.
On the contrary, when a RPA software is implemented, the bot can automate the entire process- from uploading scanned documents, validating e-signatures, authenticating checks and credit scores, to generating automatic approval or rejection recommendations with a complete audit trail. Furthermore, customers can easily track their application status online and receive real-time updates via SMS or email. It reduces turn-around time and errors, while improving the overall service experience considerably.
Enhanced Process Monitoring and Analytics
Having accurate historical data can help business leaders make better decisions about the future. Since all processes accomplished by RPA can be recorded and closely measured, it becomes easier to analyze automated processes in-depth compared to analyzing the same job performed by humans. The detailed insights provided by RPA records are error-free and can be further utilized to improve current operations, quickly address ongoing issues, accurately forecast and develop best practices, resulting in better decision-making and overall process execution.
Reduced Dependency on IT
One of the key values of RPA is that it provides constant 24/7 monitoring of a computer network and empowers businesses to improve the operational quality of their IT help desk. The automated system oversees a network for slow or failing components and proactively notifies network administrators in the case of errors or outages. This thorough and uninterrupted coverage increased IT efficiency and effectiveness. RPA allows companies to easily manage short-term network spikes without any human intervention, thus significantly minimizing the reliance on IT.
While some fear RPA will lead to the unemployment of a substantial part of the workforce, the more realistic and accurate way to view RPA is as a valuable and beneficial technology for mankind. Leveraging RPA’s potential creates a platform that rescues humans from executing monotonous and repetitious tasks and makes room for them to accept more meaningful and creative work. From a business side, RPA provides companies with the scalability needed to stay ahead, perform, and sustain at top of their game.
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