In today's digital world, companies are exploring trending and innovative technologies that provide a fundamental shift in the way traditional business processes are carried out. The digital landscape is continuously changing and progressive businesses adapt to take advantage of innovation. Robotic process automation (RPA) is an innovation that boosts productivity and efficiency gains in businesses. It is a different way of thinking about how businesses processes operate to drive efficient operations and cost savings across core lines of business.
Without a doubt, RPA is poised to address several challenges such as work areas saturated with mundane and time-consuming tasks, high operational costs, and degraded quality of work caused by human error. On the other hand, implementing this technology has its own set of drawbacks, such as complexity of implementation.
This article explores what RPA really is and touches on its perceived advantages and disadvantages.
What is RPA?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an automation technology for developing software which draws on the principles of artificial intelligence to do high quantity and repetitive tasks that take a lot of time to complete. RPA can be applied to repetitive tasks that occur in a wide variety of business sectors, thereby reducing the time taken to carry out these activities and increasing the work output.
Improved job satisfaction
RPA has been dubbed as the technology with the ability to “take the robot out of the human". This is a reference to the notion that robots will take over the mundane and repetitive portions of people's daily workload, leaving them sufficient time to concentrate on value-adding tasks that make a difference to the customer and the business.
Companies can depend on RPA to reduce the turnaround time for repetitive tasks. Reduced errors will eliminate the time needed for corrections and approvals, resulting in quicker turnaround times and increased client satisfaction.
The threat of unemployment caused by automation
In a way, RPA can be seen as a double-edged sword. Mundane tasks can be automated, thus reducing the need for human input. This advantage may however, result in an increased probability for employees whose tasks are built around repetitive tasks, to face job loss. As with any automation technology, RPA has the potential to eliminate jobs and this presents a major threat to the labour market.
Complexity during implementation
RPA is still in the early stages of innovation and as such, rolling it out in production environments can present challenges which may result in unwanted outcomes. A recent study shows that 30 to 50 percent of RPA projects initially fail. For some implementation projects, RPA appears promising in the beginning, but in the end failed to deliver the desired business outcomes. For caveats to be aware of during implementation, see Robotic Process Automation: Caveats To Be Aware Of.
RPA is, without a doubt, an ingenious solution to common issues in the traditional work environments. Moreover, the opportunity it presents for businesses is worth its weight in gold. If properly implemented, businesses will surely benefit from it and enjoy returns on their investments. However, companies should also understand that humans and machines on their own are insufficient to drive businesses in the coming years. Successful companies in the future, will be those that know how to combine the two effectively.