Wednesday , 29 November 2023

How robotic process automation (RPA) can drive enterprise productivity

This article is part of a VB special issue. Read the full series here: The CIO agenda: The 2023 roadmap for IT leaders.

The COVID pandemic of 2020 pulled the world 10 years into the future, pushing companies to streamline their processes through automation, according to Hikari Senju, founder and CEO of ad-tech platform provider Omneky. Widely anticipated recession will push RPA further into the spotlight, he maintains.

“The pandemic revealed that certain processes were unproductive and could be better automated through technology. Now, the impending recession of 2023 has forced companies into cost-cutting mode, resulting in an accelerated adoption of RPAs,” he told VentureBeat.

In Senju’s view, RPA and automation in the creative services industry will enable businesses to stay ahead of the competition and adapt to ever-changing market demands.

Of course, that’s if RPA is done right.


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Robotic process automation, when done right, performs low-level and repetitive manual tasks that consume workers’ time. It reduces data errors, resulting in higher quality, and lowers overhead in the form of fewer people needed to perform the tasks. Indeed, it can free employees to focus on higher-level, strategic work, and reduces errors by eliminating the need for human intervention, thus increasing productivity and efficiency.

And best of all, it results in speed.

The automation advantage

While traditional IT automation relies solely on programmatic interfaces, such as APIs, to automate specific tasks within a business process, RPA utilizes both programmatic interfaces and user interfaces to automate the entire business process from start to finish. This allows RPA to combine the capabilities of human users with those of software robots, resulting in a broader range of service capabilities.

For example, RPA software can streamline invoice handling from start to finish by combining techniques of interface programming with thorough understanding of user screen interaction. This allows the software to automatically retrieve invoices from accounting systems, enter data into the invoice processing portal and route the invoice for approval.

Furthermore, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) improves the speed and efficiency of automation in a consumption-based pricing model, promoting the digitization of business processes.

RPA has seen significant growth in the last three to four years. The global robotic process automation market is projected to grow to $43.5 billion by 2029 from $10 billion in 2022, an annual growth rate of 23.4%, according to a report by Fortune Business Insights.

Costly business operations are a prime target of RPA, as practical CIOs seek new efficiencies, Senju said. That’s particularly true for companies like his, which seek to add AI-driven capabilities to users’ software portfolios.

He said RPA is significantly transforming the creative services sector by enabling better automation of costly business operations. By implementing an omnichannel automation approach to scaling creative A/B testing, Omneky has been able to deliver cost reductions along with performance increases.

Implementing RPA

Although RPA can increase efficiency and reduce costs, implementing it can be a daunting task. Enterprises must devise a comprehensive plan complemented by adequate funding and continual monitoring of performance and outcomes.

Rajesh Raheja, chief engineering officer at cloud-based automation platform Boomi, talked about the current challenges of integrating RPA into enterprise architectures. These architectures, he said, need more flexibility to incorporate new capabilities into their design.

“Traditional architectures are not very open to [being] expanded with new functionalities needed to support the automation that RPA brings,” Raheja told VentureBeat. This makes it difficult to integrate with the systems needed.

For its part, traditional RPA may employ brittle connections that break as those systems change or are updated, he added.

To prevent such hazards, the first step in implementing RPA is identifying which processes are best suited for automation. This includes tasks that are repetitive, time-consuming and prone to errors, in areas such as finance, human resources, customer service and others.

Next, implementers should carefully develop plans to improve the selected business processes.

“The challenge today is that oftentimes RPA requires reorganizing [a] company’s [existing] structure. CIOs should always consider their decisions based on switching costs,” said Omneky’s Senju.

Senju said the main aspects to be considered are: What is the cost to the organization for switching to the new system and the potential return on investment (ROI)? And what is the cost of staying with the current system and losing competitiveness or market share?

A CIO can determine if an RPA solution is appropriate for their organization by evaluating key aspects including:

  • Business case: Assess whether the proposed RPA solution will provide a clear and compelling ROI. This includes analyzing the solution’s potential cost savings and efficiency improvements.
  • Technical feasibility: Evaluate whether the proposed RPA solution can be integrated into the existing IT infrastructure, and whether it can handle the volume of data and processes the organization needs to automate.
  • Scalability: Consider whether the RPA solution is designed to scale in line with the organization’s growing numbers of processes and users. The RPA solution should be able to adapt to changing business requirements and procedures over time.
  • Data security: Ensure the RPA solution protects sensitive data and complies with relevant regulations and standards.
  • Total cost of ownership: Take into account the total cost of ownership of the RPA solution, including the initial cost, any ongoing maintenance costs and any hidden costs.

Generating automations

Senju said 2023 will be seminal for the field of RPA and the automation of the creative services sector. Like others, he sees the dawning of generative AI as a growth driver.

“Generative AI automates the human ability to recognize patterns from vast amounts of data and use those learnings to create content — whether text, imagery or soon-to-be video,” he said.

“Whatever changes we saw over the past couple of years should see an acceleration.”

Will advancements in technology allow for the automation of tasks previously thought to be the exclusive domain of human creativity, such as content generation, design and video editing? Yes, Senju said.

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