Technological advancements (opens in new tab) are not only creating countless opportunities for businesses to drive more value but are also bringing about broader changes in society and the ways in which we work.
There is no technology for which this truer, than Robotic Process Automation, which is not only being implemented by more and more companies every day to drive efficiencies in their business but is also now being embraced by workers (opens in new tab) for the benefits it can bring to their daily work lives.
James Dening is the Vice President and Digital Worker Evangelist of Automation Anywhere.
What's so special about Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, gives a company the tools to create software robots to automate any business process. These "bots" are configurable software set up to perform the tasks assigned and controlled by human workers. It is, effectively, a Digital Workforce, managed by humans.
The business case for adopting RPA technologies is clear. A study by Goldsmiths (opens in new tab), University of London, shows that organisations augmented by RPA or AI achieve 28% higher overall performance and have a 31% better financial performance.
Digital Workers can also offer real improvements to the day-to-day lives of the human workforce. By automating the repetitive and mundane computer-based tasks that take up a disproportionate amount of employees' working hours, workers are free to apply themselves to higher-business value tasks. This frees up time to focus on the tasks which require, creativity, human insight or social intelligence – things that only humans can provide.
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In this sense, RPA makes work more human. In fact, the same study shows that organisations augmented by software automation are 33% more likely to be 'human-friendly' workplaces, and 78% of employees said that RPA allows them to focus on the more creative and strategic parts of their jobs. The findings suggest that it's only by investing in people alongside automation, that the maximum value can be derived from automation technologies.
Over the last five years or so, companies have caught on to the gains associated with automation projects. According to Gartner (opens in new tab), RPA is now the fastest growing market in enterprise software. So, for many traditional companies, RPA is the key to unlocking the door to Industry 4.0 (opens in new tab) and the future of work.
Industry 4.0 and the Future of Work
The debate around the future of work continues. However, everyone can agree that the world is in the midst of a technology revolution: the way businesses operate as well as the role of the human worker is rapidly evolving.
Concerns that some may be missing this revolution, though, are well-founded. Indeed, the UK government's recent Automation and Future of Work report (opens in new tab), suggests that British businesses face being left behind by the transition to new technologies.
To remain competitive – whether as an individual business or as the UK economy – will require faster adoption of automation technology. Companies that fail to adopt and adapt will miss an opportunity to gain a competitive edge in an increasingly complex and crowded global market – and risk falling behind.
So why are UK businesses slow on the uptake? A recent industry study (opens in new tab) suggests that, when it comes to wider digital transformation, the perceived high cost of innovation, lack of skills, as well as the threat of cyber-attacks, are viewed as huge barriers. These are legitimate concerns, particularly for UK SMEs, which may find these barriers to entry too high to risk a much needed digital transformation project.
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The Cloud – anything else is legacy
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying: "We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them." When the team at Automation Anywhere (opens in new tab) set about finding ways to make its RPA platform more accessible and lower these barriers to entry, they took their thinking to a whole new level. To the Cloud, to be exact.
A cloud-native approach to RPA may change the way automation is implemented around the world. Not only will the Cloud provide tangible improvements for those organisations already capitalizing on the benefits of automation, but it will enable a digital-first approach for those businesses who want to embrace the technology but were previously unable to overcome the barriers to entry.
The Cloud democratizes RPA because the usual cost of infrastructure and maintenance associated with a traditional approach are eliminated. Whereas conventional solutions are often designed more with developers in mind, a Cloud-native platform empowers business users to own the process, lowering the Total Cost of Ownership by reducing the need for technical skills required to build a digital workforce.
Cyber-security concerns are also addressed in the Cloud. With no manual patching needed or waiting for updates to be pushed at a specific time, an RPA platform in the Cloud is always up to date and secure. And with RPA-as-a-Service, companies can now scale up and down as their business needs – helping to bring automation to businesses of all kinds.
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Cloud RPA is the future. The future is now
Automation – whether physical robotics or software bots – is at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution. It will make business more efficient by saving time that humans spend on repetitive and mundane tasks. This, in turn, provides people with the space to do work that only humans can do – use their human intellect, be creative, empathise and collaborate with others to create real value for their organisations.
Today, companies of any size have the chance to access RPA technology as a service directly in the Cloud, making it easier than ever to reduce dull, repetitive tasks and make work human.
James Dening is the Vice President and Digital Worker Evangelist of Automation Anywhere (opens in new tab).
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