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What the future holds for robotic process automation

RPA is transforming the way organisations operate, streamlining once manual processes and reducing the burden on human employees.

Johannesburg, 30 Mar 2022
Read time 4min 20sec
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Thato Molomo, AV engineer, ViC IT Consulting.
Thato Molomo, AV engineer, ViC IT Consulting.

Robotic process automation, also known as RPA, is a critical component of today’s digital enterprise. Combined with future technologies like machine learning, advanced data analytics and blockchain, RPA is set to grow exponentially over the next few years. According to Precedence Research, the global robotic process automation market size is projected to hit around USD23.9 billion by 2030.

“Automated software robots that mimic human behaviours and interact with digital systems and software can be built, deployed and managed using robotic process automation software technology,” explains Thato Molomo, an AV engineer at ViC IT Consulting. As with human beings, software robots may execute a wide range of tasks like as reading what's on a screen, typing the correct letters and numbers, moving about a system, identifying and extracting data and more. “Software robots, on the other hand, can do it faster and more reliably than people, without the need to get up, stretch or go grab a cup of coffee,” says Molomo.

RPA may be used in a wide range of applications. High data quantities are also no problem for RPA bots. “Due to the fact that techno-functional developers may tell bots to conduct particular actions inside sections, RPA is clearly the forerunner when it comes to turnaround time,” adds Molomo. A higher degree of customer satisfaction is expected since RPA is able to move operations more quickly and efficiently than human employees. “An improved customer experience leads to increased loyalty since many low-level client demands can now be addressed automatically,” he says.

Avischaal Seejiram, security engineer, ViC IT Consulting.
Avischaal Seejiram, security engineer, ViC IT Consulting.

The next step, which some RPA companies are already taking, is to blend attended automations and RPA with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools. AI, in particular, has the potential to expand RPA since it can automate evaluative procedures that involve both structured and unstructured data.

“Most of businesses favour automation because it eliminates manual labour, but implementing RPA may help organisations develop more quickly, resulting in increased revenue and reduced time and costs,” says Avischaal Seejiram, a security engineer at ViC IT Consulting. “Going forward, robots will do most of the labour for humans, automating the most difficult, monotonous and time-consuming jobs. This may lead to a hybrid approach that utilises both automated and manual processes.”

RPA is frequently misunderstood by businesses, which assume they will see an immediate and consistent return on their investment regardless of the technology or implementation used.

“In reality, as many as half of all RPA operations fail,” warns Seejiram. “A common blunder in every automation project is starting without a defined goal and senior backing. Adoption of RPA is typically driven by department 'heads' or 'leads', rather than anyone with the necessary experience, knowledge or vision.”

RPA implementations that lack a comprehensive vision and leadership commitment are at risk of being implemented in isolation. When initiatives are executed in isolation, the change process is stifled and hindered. As a result, achieving scalability requires the creation of a cross-functional vision and alignment from the beginning. Of course, there are some disadvantages when it comes to implementing RPA. “It is considered that if a robot can perform quicker and more consistently, there will be no need for human intervention. As a result, it's difficult for businesses to determine whether to invest in robotic automation now or wait for it to grow,” says Seejiram. Because robots may require programming abilities and an understanding of how to operate them, many firms assume that RPA requires a high level of technical expertise. “For the non-standard operations, human involvement is necessary to complete them, making them challenging for automation.”

For those businesses looking to get started with RPA as part of their digital transformation strategy, Molomo recommends engaging with subject matter specialists, such as IT, risk, audit and security, to establish a good high-level grasp of the processes and the challenges they relate to. Another way companies can begin to implement RPA is to make use of the services of an RPA expert. “Put in place a team of people that will help you through all phases of the transformation, from change management through post-implementation,” adds Molomo. “If problems arise with the robots after RPA has been implemented, a post-implementation team will be needed to address them.”

From banking to healthcare, manufacturing and logistics, different sectors are turning to RPA to increase their overall speed and efficiency while benefiting from detailed analytical insights by automating time-consuming operations. The increasing number of sectors implementing RPA to improve operational procedures shows the increased need for RPA deployment on a worldwide corporate scale. Ultimately, automated process automation is a game-changer for any industry that relies on computers for any part of its operations.

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