Robots are a familiar site in most modern manufacturing facilities. And now, they are becoming more and more prevalent – only you cannot see them. These invisible robots are better known as “Robotic process automation” (RPA). Industrial robots revolutionised the manufacturing sector. Robotic process automation will disrupt the back office.
What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or a software 'robot' is a software application that replicates the actions of a human being interacting with the user interface of a computer system. It processes transactions, manipulates data, triggers a response and communicates with other systems. RPA could also be described as artificial intelligence combined with automation.
Jobs that need high volume, repetitive, process-driven work are all top candidates for RPA. Tasks like data entry and form issuance and jobs that need access to many systems benefit most. RPA offers dramatic improvements in both productivity and accuracy in transaction processing. Financial operations, human resources, supply chain management and customer service are being robotised.
The robotic back office
EY thinks that Robotic process automation has potential to disrupt the office of the CFO. In a report “Is the future of finance new technology or new people?” they imagine a finance function with less overhead and faster work. RPA “robots” handle huge volumes of repetitive tasks without ever making an error. It consolidates data from disparate systems while keeping a perfect audit trail. Adoption while at an early stage is poised for significant growth.
McKinsey thinks 43% of finance and insurance work and 39% of administrative work can be automated with existing technology. 17% of all US work hours are spent on collecting data and 16% on processing data. Using RPA, 64% of data collection and 69% of data processing can become automated.
Who’s developing RPA for the back office?
YayPay is building robotic process automation for accounts receivable management to reduce invoice processing time and time spent on repetitive processes. Accounts payables software companies like Avidxchange, Coupa and Concur use forms of RPA for procure-to-pay processes. Business process outsourcing companies like Genpact, Kofax, Accenture and Cap Gemini are also at the forefront using RPA for a range of applications.
Recommended Reading Links
“Harnessing automation for a future that works” (McKinsey Global Institute)