For almost a decade, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has taken business automation to an entirely new level of execution. RPA is an approach that leverages business capabilities with technological assistance, thus increasing the potential of a process. RPA enables enterprises to automate routine and error-prone processes to reduce their execution time and improve efficiency. RPA is also considered the critical first step for realizing a company’s transition to the era of artificial intelligence.
The term Robotic Process Automation was first used by Gartner at the end of 2012 as a catch-all phrase to describe automation software. One of the first commercial RPA systems was developed by Ross Intelligence in 2009 and sold to Blue Prism in 2011. Since then, many other companies have entered the market, including Automation Anywhere, UiPath and Blue Prism itself.
So, what is the current market status of this technology? Until recently, RPA was seen as a new and emerging technology in the business world. Its use was primarily confined to only small and medium enterprises as it lacked certain crucial elements to make it adoptable by large-scale enterprises. After some recent advancement, RPA tools are developed such that organizations of all sizes can use them.
Deploying RPA platforms help transform and accelerate business processes while at the same time improving their operational efficiency. RPA automates repetitive processes that involve multiple steps and simple decisions. A good example would be information help desks, where employees are required to handle complex customer requests daily with little variation in how these requests are made. A human agent would read through each request and provide an answer based on experience or the rules they have been given. This approach is time-consuming and error-prone as workers can become bored or distracted while dealing with one particular task over and over again. RPA removes these limitations by automating much of this work so that workers can focus on more critical issues, such as solving customer problems, rather than just pushing buttons or deriving-entering data into a database.
The following are two examples of how RPA streamlines IT services to:
In principle, RPA is an overlay process that integrates existing systems and processes. It does not replace the human component but does reduce the need for human intervention. As a result, it delivers benefits such as reducing the need for manual tasks, cost cutting, and efficiency improvements. The use of an RPA solution is an excellent first step to the adoption of AI. This is because RPA enables and boosts the cultural shift of an enterprise towards automation and data-driven services.
Nevertheless, there are challenges to overcome when implementing RPA within the enterprise. The main challenge is cost — not just the up-front cost of buying software and hardware but also ongoing costs such as maintenance and management. And then there’s the question of how to integrate RPA into existing systems so that it doesn’t become a costly, complex solution that fails to deliver on its promise of automation. While reducing operational costs is a prime motivator for adopting RPA, companies must ensure that cost efficiency is evaluated against other crucial considerations, such as security and compliance with regulations. The challenge for CIOs is to find an optimal balance between these conflicting priorities so that they can begin automating processes without compromising their businesses’ ability to compete effectively in their chosen markets.
The adoption of RPA has been slow in the last few years because there are still many questions about how it will fit into an enterprise’s business processes and IT environment. To address these concerns, many companies have devised ways to make RPA more commercially viable by providing it as a service. RPAaaS is a new cloud-based model that offers automation as a service (AaaS) through an on-demand approach. With RPAaaS, enterprises can access enterprise automation tools without capital investment and operational expenses. Like other service-oriented approaches, RPAaaS is about delivering RPA through a cloud infrastructure, which provides more flexibility to enterprises and enables them to benefit from a ‘pay as you go’ approach.
RPAaaS allows companies to shift from having their own data centers to using the cloud for their automation needs. One of the main advantages of RPAaaS is that there are no upfront costs or maintenance fees for software licenses or hardware maintenance costs. That makes it easier for small and midsize businesses with limited budgets to start automating their processes without worrying about whether they will be able to afford it later when they need more features or enhancements. RPAaaS is also beneficial for larger enterprises that have a limited budget and want to test the waters before committing to full-scale deployment. It also allows them to take advantage of the benefits of automation without having to think about infrastructure, scalability, integration, or training.
Overall, automation is necessary for the enterprise, but only if it’s affordable, scalable, and reliable. However, that leaves IT departments with another concern: how do we build a process that uses emerging technology to meet business objectives? This is where RPAaaS fills the gap: the cloud provides scale and reliability, while RPAaaS software ensures commercial viability. Modern enterprises must therefore consider RPAaaS as part of their digital transformation strategy. It is an exciting time to be involved in automation as RPAaaS solutions will soon become more sophisticated as their underlying technologies mature.
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