Robotic Process Automation: Your Business’s Next Step?
Robotic process automation, or RPA, consists of software that is used to perform routine tasks which follow a definite set of rules. RPA can process transactions, manipulate data, and trigger responses. It can be particularly useful in the areas of finance, accounting, supply chain management, customer service, and human resources. In short, if you run a business that is dependent upon the continual execution of repetitive tasks, you may be able to turn to RPA to make your life easier.
What makes RPA newsworthy is that it’s software that does the computer work that human beings do, and it is being used to take over more and more high-value jobs every day, including those in the information technology sector. As a matter of fact, it is beginning to replace outsourcing in businesses’ never-ending search for faster, more efficient, and less costly ways of getting work done.
Even more remarkable, RPA is scalable, meaning it is useful even for very large enterprises such as banks. Formerly, banks were reluctant to trust their data to these automated systems, fearing inaccuracies, lack of quality, and unreliability. However, with the latest improvements in these technologies, those fears have been largely lain to rest.
One could say that RPA is a natural step in the evolution of computing, one that has been foretold by writers of science fiction for decades. These days, most of us carry around computers in our pockets or purses that once would have required dedicated and specially cooled rooms in order to perform their functions. So it should come as little surprise that there are now software robots that have their own virtual workstations, and their own “jobs,” so to speak.
Some of RPA’s noteworthy qualities include:
- RPA services require little programming, as RPA’s virtual workers—its software robots—are able to learn “on the job” as tasks are assigned to them. To put it simply, a person with little to no training in software programming can intuitively “train,” or configure these robots to do the work they’re needed for.
- The work of these virtual workers is practically error-free.
- Software robots can complete in mere minutes tasks that would take a human being hours to perform. Some estimates of time savings with RPA as compared with human workers are as high as 80-90%. Human beings are needed only now and then for trouble-shooting and problem solving.
- High-profile companies are flocking toward the use of RPA as the benefits of implementing these systems become more widely known.
- The transition to RPA involves little disruption to existing computer systems, as all that happens is that software robots take over the jobs that human workers once performed.
- These virtual workers access end user computer systems exactly as humans do, except for the fact that they do not require actual monitors, mouse devices, or keyboards, but only virtual ones.
- An RPA system requires little technical support, and it is relatively easy to set up and use.
- RPA relieves workers of mundane tasks, allowing them to take on higher value work. Some experts believe that this will eventually lead to greater productivity.
- While RPA does require an initial investment, it offers businesses which adopt it a rapid decrease in internal costs and an equally fast and sometimes dramatic return on that investment, as high as 300-800% in some cases. In other words, RPA can save your business money.
It’s too early to tell what the effect of RPA will be on society overall, although there are some who believe that human beings will be freed up for more meaningful work, once RPA’s virtual workers have liberated us from the necessity of banging away on keyboards to perform repetitive and mundane chores.