How RPA Is Revolutionizing Corporate Management
It is generally accepted that for years now robots have helped to complete many production steps faster, more consistently and with more precision. But now, robots may also conquer the offices of many forward-looking companies. The term robot is a bit misleading here, since robotic process automation (RPA) actually refers to software that is used to perform routine tasks – similar to a robot – accurately and with tireless precision based on existing systems.
Areas of Application
The use of RPA is best applied in departments in which significant resources are dedicated towards repeating “simple” processes. Examples include manually entering data into input dialogs, evaluating data as well as extensive searches for and matching of data.
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.
Frey, Carl B. et. al.. Technology at Work: The Future of Innovation and Employment. University of Oxford: 2015.