Dispelling the misconceptions surrounding RPA
Marco Vassallo - Published on 21/11/2018
In today’s ever-changing environment where ‘disruption’ and ‘innovation’ are the buzz-words everyone wants to inject in their strategies and business plans, it’s not easy to keep abreast of the facts of the major emerging technologies. One such technology, that has recently started gaining a lot of traction, is Intelligent Automation (IA).
Intelligent Automation can have varying degrees of “intelligence” and “automation” which is why it’s often given different labels such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Intelligent Process Automation (IPA), and sometimes simply abbreviated to Intel Automation or by catch-all term of bots.
Whilst there are subtle differences between the labels above, namely that the term Intelligent implies an underlying reliance on Artificial Intelligence techniques, and some are indeed subsets of others, all of the labels point towards forms of Intelligent Automation. This recent twist in a long-standing concept is revolutionising the way we look at repetitive, time-consuming and process-based tasks.
The first image that one could think of when hearing the phrase ‘Intelligent Automation’ may well be a robot, standing on two legs or on a revolving platform and putting people out of work. While many may have the idea that IA is an enigmatic, theoretical field that requires a lot of depth to understand, the reality of this exciting field couldn’t be any more different.
Let’s clear up some of the more widespread misconceptions that surround Intelligent Automation.
Myth #1 - Robotic Automation is all about machines that move and work just like humans.
Robotic process automation, or RPA, at its most basic level involves bots – i.e. purpose-written software – which carry out certain simple, repetitive, rule-based tasks. More advanced forms of automation use machine learning and artificial intelligence to recognise patterns from unstructured data, allowing the software to ‘think’ for itself, and this is where the Robotic Process Automation gets labelled as Intelligent Automation.
Myth #2 - You have to be a large manufacturing or industrial company to benefit from this technology.
A vast array of back office tasks, such as compiling reports, reconciling accounts, and issuing invoices, could easily be automated through a clearly defined process. These, and other similar tasks, exist in all forms of organisations – and automating them could result in significant cost savings.
Myth #3 - It will be difficult to convince key stakeholders in my business to embrace automation.
This doesn’t have to be the case. By starting small and rethinking the more simple processes in your organisation, you could start seeing the results of automation in a relatively short period of time. From then on, the key is building momentum by making sure expectations in your organisation are realistic, and identifying the right opportunities to take the transformation to the next level and win over key business leaders.
Myth #4 - Introducing automation on a large scale will lead to most of my employees losing their jobs.
Technology exists to make work easier, not to eliminate it. Rather than whole jobs, Intelligent Automation is more likely to take over specific tasks, especially those that are menial, time consuming and repetitive. McKinsey & Company estimates that up to 45% of work activities could be automated with technology that already exists (1). This provides an opportunity to free up precious employee time and redeploy it elsewhere, to more value added tasks. In this context, a resourceful employee is not threatened, but rather given a chance to learn new skills and advance their career.
There is no doubt that Intelligent Automation will have an intense impact on your business, the question is when. This transformational wave will strike across all industries and the disruption will be significant!
If crafted and executed well, this track will generate tangible results along the way.
The time to start – is NOW!