RPA in 2020

Why cloud-based RPA is a game-changer

Mindless. Repetitive. Tedious. Necessary.

Some of the most important functions in your business are cyclical, manual processes. Often viewed as monotonous by employees, these tasks require accuracy and must be done on time. Delay and errors mean lost revenue, failed compliance, security breaches, and increased risk.

Many departments devote hours a week moving data from system to system and source to system. Think thousands upon thousands of mouse clicks and keystrokes worth of mind-numbing manual entries, with lost productivity on other initiatives which drive business forward.

Robotic process automation (RPA) fixes the problem of ongoing – and often compounding – fixed costs that are tied to rote, repetitive, time-consuming tasks. When these tasks are automated, it creates massive efficiency gains by freeing employees up to perform higher-value work. Examples of tasks that are ideally suited for RPA include mundane duties like validating web pages for obsolete criteria. Celerity recently automated this task for a leading financial services company. When performed by humans, 50 URLs could be validated in a typical 8-hour shift. Using RPA, robots can validate 250 URLs every 24 hours.

Monotonous. Exacting. Robotic.

How did we get here? The age of information requires that businesses scale to address the increasing amount of data produced every year. Every two years, the amount of data on the planet doubles. This is the main cause for these monotonous tasks—and the main driver for adopting automation.

Your best employees’ value comes from knowledge of your business, your people and your processes. Businesses can’t efficiently or cost-effectively scale a human workforce to meet the requirements of processing all that data. Humans can—and want to—provide greater value and have a higher purpose. Repetitive, manual, high-stress work can be a morale-killer and is better suited for a robot, or “bot.”

That is why today RPA is one of the fastest-developing and most competitive solution areas. A scalable, cloud-based RPA solution obviates the up-front infrastructure platform barrier, removes the on-premise infrastructure operational load, and offers licensing per cycle or bot that scales up and down with your usage, allowing businesses to easily adopt a solution and increase employee productivity.

A brief history of RPA

RPA is not a new concept. It emerged in the 1990s, when companies began using “screen scrapers” to scan large databases. Later, optical character recognition technology improved and was integrated, offering business process optimization.

Initially, large enterprise organizations were able to develop and implement RPA environments. This allowed them to leverage core aspects of huge workloads across large databases, providing a 50% cost savings over offshore development, by running bots that could operate 24/7 with greatly improved accuracy, transparency and the ability to report progress on a micro level.

In the last decade, advances with artificial intelligence (AI), teamed with OS and UI-aware macro recorder solutions to support low-code development, have simplified RPA requirements to the point where a power-user, with little to no coding or software development experience, can build a solution.

Market leaders, solution development in the recent past

RPA over the last five years has flowed from large enterprises to the mid-market, with market leaders and members of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant—Automation Anywhere, UI Path, and Blue Prism—each enriching their solutions. There are many case studies demonstrating huge ROI. Only until recently RPA still required expensive infrastructure and was limited primarily to structured data, limiting RPA application to less than 20% of process workloads.

What has changed? Why now is a good time for RPA

In 2019, two key advances came to market: cloud-based RPA software-as-a-service and improved AI. This combination is enabling the next solution iteration, often referred to as intelligent process automation (IPA).

Today, cloud-based RPA-as-a-service is available, melding infrastructure and licensing, providing drastic cost and operational benefits that allow mid-market and small business to afford its efficiency. Two factors make RPA an increasingly attractive option for companies looking to get started with using automation to drive productivity:


1

Low total cost of ownership enables a company to adopt and grow cost against process efficiency ROI without a large initial investment. This also shifts cost from capital expenditures to operating expenditures, obviating infrastructure and related management.


2

Hyper/high scalability—you can get started with 2-3 bots, then create more and scale up or scale down according to your business needs.


The combination of RPA with AI and machine learning has the potential to process and address many of the remaining 80% of workloads that utilize “dark data” like PDFs, manual forms and images. According to Forrester data, IA will generate $134 billion in labor value by 2022 by “enabling businesses to shift staff, skills and investment toward critical functions such as innovation, augmenting the customer experience or operational efficiency.”

Crucial Aspects for RPA Success

How can you ensure your business is prepared to take advantage of all that cloud-based RPA has to offer? There are 3 critical components to setting up any RPA program that yields return: process discovery, process mapping, and optimization. Celerity has business process management expertise and experienced consultants that can assess process maturity and automation feasibility, prepare processes for automation through redesign/reengineering, and guide implementation through the application of a change management framework.

When automating a process, first list your expectations from the initiative and work towards choosing a solution that caters to those expectations. Clearly defined automation goals with measurable metrics and an understanding of the ROI are needed before development starts. Celerity’s ROI calculator can estimate and measure the increased process efficiency from automation, factoring in expected cost savings from taking a cloud-based approach.

Our consultants support all phases of the RPA program lifecycle shown in the graphic below for end-to-end execution. We can document your existing processes then streamline them so they’re ready for automation. We can create the bots that will make the automation work. And we can set you up with the ability to monitor and control the process, so you can sustain it and improve it yourself in the future.

Iteration phases in bot implementation

Are you ready for RPA?

If you’re wondering whether your company is prepared to gain the benefits of employing cloud-based RPA, Celerity has developed an RPA readiness assessment to help businesses evaluate where they are on their RPA journey. Based on where you land on the maturity curve, we provide recommendations on how to map and optimize your processes, then digitize, operate and grow. Interested in finding out where you stand? Take the assessment today to see if you land in the beginner, intermediate, or expert category and where you should go from there.