Could RPA be the transformational lifeline that companies are seeking to push their earnings into the black? Given that RPA implementations can be done in a matter of weeks and not months or years, perhaps it might be. Consider this; According to a recent Computer Economics survey on RPA trends, nearly one quarter of large organizations are currently dabbling in some form of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), while investment in RPA shows that that growth should continue for quite some time. In this article we will give you enough reasons why, regardless of your company size, now might be the right time to reboot work with Robotics Process Automation (RPA).
As a point of reference into how quickly things have evolved in the RPA space, UiPath was a fledgling software start-up as recently as 2005. It wasn’t until seven years later when they first built a web browser plug-in aimed at consumers that they quickly realized that their underlying computer-vision document scanning technology could act as a robotic helper for many repetitive tasks. When UiPath launched their desktop automation product in 2013, and their enterprise platform in 2015, (along with their new name) the “hockey-stick” trajectory truly began. As of today, UiPath is the fastest-growing enterprise software company in history and the RPA industry as a whole, is expected to be a $16.2 billion market by 2023. As recent as 5 months ago, UiPath’s valuation stood at $7 Billion As a basis of further validation for the industry itself, Gartner recently reported that RPA software revenue grew 63.1% in 2018 to $846 million, making it the fastest-growing segment of the global enterprise software market. Gartner analysts expect RPA software revenue to reach $1.3 billion this year alone.
Briefly, the purpose of RPA platforms is to automate repetitive, low-value activities such as processing payroll, inputting data to forms, merging data from multiple sources or making calculations, to name a few. Removing these routine practices from employee workflows gives employees an opportunity to focus on higher value tasks such as strategic planning or core processes within the organization.
Beyond the opportunities that are created for employees to focus on more strategic, value-added activities, there are also cost-saving opportunities associated with Robotics Process Automation (RPA). For example, a company can apply RPA to reduce its internal hiring needs and/or reliance on outsourcing, which can cut down costs significantly and boost employee productivity. Another example might be that a manufacturer could be experiencing challenges within its global supply chain management operations, this might include process errors, time-consuming manual processes, lengthy error detection and resolution cycles. Using RPA could help enhance operational efficiency, reduce costs and improve customer experience.
Although Robotics Process Automation is sweeping across all industries, some are leading in RPA adoption more than others. For example, insurance companies, financial services, and utility companies have all shown higher rates of investment and adoption in RPA. Because the solutions readily integrate with legacy systems, these organizations can build on their past technology investments more quickly while accelerating their current digital transformation initiatives.
In addition to the aforementioned industries, RPA is also gaining popularity with business process outsourcing providers, who see it as a way to lower the overall cost of service delivery. In fact, RPA is a type of outsourcing, but instead of outsourcing to a human being in another country, the work is being outsourced to a “bot.” It’s also gaining ground in large organizations with large numbers of clerical or administrative workers, such as telcos and healthcare organizations.
For those organizations that are currently in the consideration phase, they are not alone. According to the Computer Economics Survey on RPA Adoption Trends mentioned earlier, the percentage of organizations that are currently in the consideration stage is at 27%. This means that 27% of organizations are actively investigating the potential benefits and risks of an implementation. This also includes organizations that may be piloting the technology but have not yet decided to move to the next stage.
In addition, 11% of organizations are currently at the implementation stage and have plans to deploy the technology for the first time within the next 18 months. The percentage number that should be growing steadily over the next few years is the number of organizations that have some Robotics Process Automation (RPA) projects in place and have budgeted additional money to expand their use of them. That said, about 10% of organizations are planning on increasing their investment in RPA.
Though organizational size is often a major factor influencing RPA adoption, with the highest adoption rates found among multinationals, that doesn’t mean that midsize and small companies cannot play in the RPA space. On the contrary; According to a recent Softmotive study, although MSBs in the United States are more conservative than their counterparts in other parts of the world when it comes to implementing RPA, adoption is still robust.
Almost half (46%) of MSBs in the United States surveyed in the study have implemented RPA in their business or scaled it across multiple parts of the organization. 50% of MSBs in the United States surveyed are investigating or have already tried RPA on a small scale.
So how realistic is the RPA opportunity? While success is going to look different for each customer, the bottom line is this. What company isn’t seeking to improve productivity, strengthen compliance, increase workforce morale, enhance data quality and reduce transaction costs? The answer is simple. The opportunity is very realistic.
In order to get started though, you’ll first need to assess and identify areas that are highly rules-based, structured and repetitive. RPA has applications across a broad strip of organizational functions with a range of potential benefits. Choosing the ‘right areas’ to automate for your organization will drive efficiencies and maximize savings.
Next, you’re going to need to develop a proof of concept –and this is where having a RPA services implementation consultant can help you build a business case and select 1-2 pilot processes to automate. The key here is to make sure to measure performance changes and use this pilot test as a learning opportunity for everyone involved. The great thing about RPA pilots is they can also help obtain buy-in from stakeholders, improve the understanding of both the potential and the limitations of automation and identify the key success factors across the enterprise.
After you’ve run your pilots, you will need to strategically decide whether the goal is to establish a strategic automation capability or to achieve some automation efficiencies with minimal effort and investment. The outcome of this decision will affect the automation operating model and determine sourcing options.
Let’s talk about your automation partnerships. Selecting you Robotic Process Automation solution provider is no different than how you would select any other technology. It’s about considering both current and future needs. The only difference is that by having a services implementation consultant for example, you gain the knowledge and experience of an organization who is already dealing with a specific automation partner. Thus, it’s important that you partner with the right consultant and the right vendor. The RPA market is extremely dynamic right now with a lot of new firms and products entering the space at warp speed. While some vendors like UiPath, are well established and have credentials and an extensive installed base, others are seeking to gain traction. Hence, it’s important to do the due diligence on your potential RPA partners to make sure they are viable, that they have installed the product in similar businesses or industries, and have a defined growth path for additional features and functions.
In closing, for a lot of organizations this is new territory but it’s territory worth exploring. For the majority of companies, one of the keys to getting started will be to start slowly with simple processes in which you are able to build momentum and demonstrate value. From there, then you can scale up to support more complex business areas. Successful RPA implementations should result in measurable and quantifiable long term strategic gains. The vision for automation must look beyond the initial deployment and establish how automation can and will grow across the organization. RPA has massive game-changing potential but in order to ensure your automation journey is a successful one, it is imperative that you select the right people, the right partners and the right processes.