Robot-controlled process automation takes care of routine tasks in companies
Automation of recurring tasks
Robotics can make many business processes more efficient. Software robots can work 24/7, do not take a vacation and do not get sick. This gives a fivefold increase in available hours per year compared to average human labor. Tasks can be done much faster and almost flawlessly, which can greatly increase a company’s productivity.
The term robot is a bit misleading because Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is more precisely software that – like a robot – does routine tasks exactly and tirelessly using existing systems.
The use of RPA is particularly useful in those areas of the company where repetitive, “simple” processing steps tie up many resources. Examples of this are the manual input of data in input masks, the evaluation of data, extensive searches on and comparisons of data.
Two types of RPA
• Supervised and / or operated: Human users control the process and determine when transactions are executed.
• Unattended or unattended: The software robot performs transactions consistently and without human involvement. People only intervene in exceptional cases.
Advantages and Limitations
The major advantage of robotic process automation is the fact that these routine activities can be completed around the clock, much faster and with fewer errors than when done by human employees. In addition, RPA is straightforward and can be operated and monitored by those who are not IT experts. An additional advantage is the ability to integrate RPA into a company’s existing systems. There is no need for extensive investments in new core systems before a company is able to feel the benefits of RPA.
The advantage of being accurate means, at the same time, testing the natural limits of robotic process automation: in order for automation to work, the processes must not be changed. Before implementing RPA, business processes should be carefully analyzed and if necessary optimized, as any subsequent adjustment may be complicated.
Furthermore, RPA can only work with exact data, and extracting new data from continuous text or independently developing new operations similar to past solutions is only possible with the help of so-called cognitive software or even artificial intelligence systems. However, these fields are developing very rapidly, so much that companies will increasingly be able to use such complex solutions in the years to come.
A Threat to Jobs?
Does this mean that in the future not only assembly-line workers but also office workers will be replaced by robots? Yes and no, says both science and the industry. According to a study by the University of Oxford, the substitutability of an employee highly depends on the proportion of his/her routine activities or the ratio of tasks that require creative solutions and social competence.
As a result, for example, tasks that until now have been done by accountants and employees in finance departments and even sales back offices will increasingly be completed by RPA systems. Employees who often have to use their creative minds instead of being purely analytical or must demonstrate tact in customer contact will probably remain irreplaceable.
For many companies, robotic process automation offers interesting opportunities to save resources to a considerable extent, while, at the same time, enhancing the activities of their human employees by reducing the number of routine tasks. RPA is therefore considered as an opportunity for improvement and will continue to revolutionize many business departments in the coming years.