What is RPA and why do businesses need it

RPA enables quick, error-free, and cost-effective performance of routine tasks

RPA

What is RPA and why do businesses need it. Source: shutterstock.com

Most people don’t like routine. Many employees quit their jobs when their workday reminds them more of “Groundhog Day”. Thanks to modern AI technologies, firms can save their workers from boredom, simultaneously increasing business productivity. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of the best solutions.

What’s RPA?

If you imagine a human-like robot walking around the office or sitting at the computer, leave that image for a sci-fi movie. In reality, everything is much simpler.

RPA is a software which can perform the actions of a human interacting with digital systems to execute a business process. RPA bots can utilize an in-house application, website, user portal, etc. They interpret, trigger responses and communicate with other systems in order to perform a vast variety of repetitive tasks. 

RPA software program runs on an end user’s PC, laptop or mobile device. It is a sequence of commands executed by bots under some defined set of business rules. The program automates routine processes with the help of AI algorithms.

Application

There are numerous business spheres and tasks where RPA can be applied.

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Automated software can be used in banking. Source: shutterstock.com

  • Banking. Automated software can be used to quickly process loan applications, check credit scores, monitor threshold breaches in capital markets, process third-party invoices, integrate the customer’s data from e-mail or an online application form into a new bank account, validate an account closure, etc. “RPA-friendly” tasks include sending emails, opening applications, and copying and pasting information from one banking system to another.
  • Insurance. RPA helps to register and process claims or appeals; gather and process data related to underwriting; activate or cancel insurance policies; approve credit note refunds. This industry absolutely benefits from automated processes as the speed of processing directly influences people in extreme circumstances who desperately need financial compensation for their losses.
  • Retail. Global retail companies need to harmonize SKU data from multiple markets. Yet even the small ones spend plenty of time on managing their inventory, categorizing products, analyzing public demand, informing customers about promotions and sales, or registering all transactions. RPA facilitates those activities leaving more time for customer support to create a truly personalized shopping experience. Moreover, where less human work is required, prices may become more competitive.
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RPA leaves more time for customer support to create a truly personalized shopping experience. Source: shutterstock.com

  • Marketing and sales. RPA solutions are able to track competitors’ websites, marketing campaigns, promotions, and prices in real-time. It allows businesses to keep up with the trends and market offers. Software robots can compile lists of clients, partner companies, suppliers, etc. Advertising and sales can become more personalized as RPA gathers customer information from various sources and adds it into a personal profile. Sales representatives can concentrate on nurturing their leads based on the information automatically delivered to them.
  • Accounting. Working with numbers often gives more room to human error. Manual input of numeric data is exhausting, it wearies human eyes very quickly, and requires a good memory. RPA is practically error-free and can download data from various formats of files.
  • HR. Companies can use bots to automate aggregating CVs, assessment results and interview notes. Bots can verify employment history, arrange interviews, maintain records, add new employees’ accounts to corporate systems, integrate data with other IT solutions to create new logins or provide access to relevant facilities. Payrolls can become more flexible due to automation. For instance, they can be calculated and paid on a shift basis instead of monthly payments. Managing absences and vacations can be automated too.
  • Customer support. Chatbots provide standard answers to FAQs, provide tracking information on deliveries, inform about updates, etc. Live operators can handle more complex situations and check exceptional cases.
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Live operators can handle more complex situations and check exceptional cases. Source: shutterstock.com

Benefits

  • Bots never sleep, get tired, or frustrated because of personal issues; they do not get bored with repetitive tasks; they are equally efficient 24/7;
  • The software collects and processes data much faster than human resources;
  • Employees can dedicate their efforts to creative and sensitive tasks. Their work becomes challenging and rewarding rather than tedious;
  • RPA is cost-effective. It releases more funds for business development, employees benefits, public campaigns, etc. Products and services can become more affordable to customers as they’ll require less investment;
  • RPA leverages the existing infrastructure without causing disruption to underlying systems;
  • It improves accuracy, scalability, and flexibility of an operation;
  • It doesn’t need complex coding or special hardware. The initial costs usually soon pay off.

Drawbacks

  • Some RPA software is quite expensive. Small enterprises are bound to rely on manual processes;
  • Even small changes made in the automation application will need the robots to be reconfigured;
  • RPA can be applied only to repetitive tasks that are based on strict rules. They aren’t flexible;
  • A significant portion of RPA projects fail because of great customization required;
  • Fewer human employees are needed in spheres based on repetitive data input; it has a controversial effect on the employment level;
  • RPA vendors are mostly taking a UI approach, not an API approach. Therefore, their solutions work best on legacy applications.
  • With API interfaces, they are harder to implement.

SEE ALSO: Digital tax: what is it and how it works

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