Nowadays, RPA is more widely used in various industries, regions and organizations. Organizations hope to get the benefits of RPA, including reducing costs, optimizing operations, improving customer experience, reducing errors, simplifying management and control, and quickly realizing return on investment. These factors are driving the growth of global RPA spending: Gartner, a research firm, predicts that RPA software spending will reach $1.3 billion this year, and Forrester, a research firm, predicts that the RPA software market will reach $2.9 billion in 2021.

Although organizations can implement RPA without a mature digital transformation plan, most digital transformation work will not be realized without some intelligent automation functions.

RPA software robots replicate the way humans interact with applications or systems, and then perform the task automatically. For many organizations, implementing RPA is one of the first (and most direct) methods of automation in their digital transformation. Chip Wagner, chief executive officer of ISG automation, RPA division of ISG, a global technology research and consulting firm, explains that “compared to some other long-term technology change initiatives, the rate of return on investment is remarkable and fast.”

Although many organizations may initially view RPA as a simple automation tool or short-term solution, it can be a catalyst for greater change as part of a broader digital transformation strategy.

“Most RPA deployments are driven by the need to automate repetitive operational tasks,” said Siddhartha Sharad, director of pace harmony, an it and business services transformation consultancy However, when integrated with other digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, intelligent workflow tools, and digital assistants, to drive end-to-end digital transformation, organizations derive the most value from RPA deployment. “

Examples of RPA in digital transformation

“RPA can reach back office, middle-level and front office departments by significantly reducing costs, increasing speed, and improving compliance,” Wagner said.

Many RPA solutions are beginning to integrate cognitive capabilities, thereby increasing their value proposition. RPA itself is not an intelligent solution. As Everest group explained in its RPA introductory course, “RPA is a deterministic solution whose results are known, primarily for trading activities and standardized processes.” Some common use cases for RPA include order processing, financial report generation, it support, and data aggregation and reconciliation.

However, as organizations move forward in the process of digital transformation, the fact that many RPA solutions begin to integrate cognitive capabilities adds to their value proposition.

For example, RPA can be combined with intelligent character recognition (ICR) and optical character recognition (OCR). Call center RPA applications may combine natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG) to enable chat robots.

“These are all elements of an intelligent automation continuum that allows for digital transformation,” Wagner said. RPA is part of a long, intelligent automation technology that, together and used in an integrated way, can dramatically change an organization’s operating costs and speed, while improving compliance and reducing costly errors. “

Indeed, RPA can be a key part of the technical toolset that organizations can use to drive change. “RPA can make other digital technologies work,” Sharad said

Six factors to plan: RPA as part of digital transformation

One of the charms of RPA is that it can be automated easily. Industry leading RPA providers offer simple solutions designed to automate basic day-to-day tasks for people with hours of training and limited or no development experience. However, this is the simplest form of RPA. As with any other aspect of digital transformation, it leaders need to develop a broader plan for the role of RPA. The problems to be solved include:

(1) Strategic adjustment

In establishing RPA, it is important to align the program objectives with the overall digital technology (DT) strategy. “For example, if improving the customer experience is the focus of an organization’s transformation, it’s important to prioritize RPA opportunities that affect the customer experience,” Sharad said. Aligning the RPA program with the requirements of digital technology (DT) can help provide appropriate execution focus and scalable resources. “

(2) Governance

As organizations’ interest in adopting RPA grows, it leaders must plan to extend these automation initiatives in the digital transformation process. “We’ve seen companies struggling with scale expansion,” Wagner said. They tend to use dozens of robots to achieve limited early success, but they can’t achieve greater impact. ” He believes that RPA and intelligent automation are easy to scale, but in fact need appropriate strategies to manage and support large software robot teams.

(3) Process stability and system stability

RPA works best in stable process and system environments. “Application changes sometimes make RPA deployment redundant,” Sharad said. It is important that the organization assess the feasibility of RPA in the context of its overall digital technology (DT) roadmap and avoid systems and processes that are undergoing significant recent transformation. “

(4) Organizational change management

Lack of proper change management planning and implementation is one of the most common reasons for failure of RPA deployment. RPA and intelligent RPA can provide new working methods for employees who finish their work in a certain way for a period of time.

“This level of change can cause serious anxiety and confusion among employees, leading to resistance, and its motivation will diminish over time,” Sharad said. The success, sustainability and scale of the RPA program requires effective management of organizational change and cultural transformation to drive employee adoption through clear and transparent communication. “

(5) Clearly defined success indicators

It is important to define the quantifiable benefits expected from RPA deployment and to measure and report on achievements. “Without proper measures of success, organizations can generate false expectations and undermine stakeholder motivation,” Sharad said

(6) Focus

The RPA process should not be an afterthought for organizations in their digital transformation. “To ensure success, the RPA program requires adequate resources, a strong governance model and control framework, and well-defined deployment and production management processes,” Sharad said. Acquiring these features takes time and effort to develop and should be carefully considered when planning digital transformation strategies. ” Regular steering meetings and the adoption of RPA governance model are a way to ensure the organization’s continuous support and attention.

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