Robotic process automation (RPA) is essentially technology that automates structured and repetitive business processes. Organisations can utilise RPA tools to connect with other digital systems, retrieve information, capture data, process transactions, etc.
In that context, we can say that RPAs are “robots” programmed to complete particular business processes. Fundamentally, RPA handles mundane and repetitive tasks to free humans to focus on higher-level activities.
Examples of Robotic Process Automation
Financial institutions were the first organisations to adopt RPA. However, nowadays, there are numerous entities across different industries, like healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and fleet management that use RPA technology.
With continual pressure to reduce inefficiencies and costs, many more sectors are turning to robotic process automation as a solution.
However, it is best suited to clearly defined and well-documented processes, which are rule-based. Based on these criteria, many companies across numerous industries can adopt RPA for a wide variety of tasks.
Furthermore, it is predicted that spending on RPA technology will reach $2.4 billion by 2022, according to Gartner. This spells good things for RPA adoption as it reduces labour costs and prevents human error.
To show RPA’s usefulness (and why many are investing in it), we have compiled a list of real-life examples. Take a look at how RPA technology helps organisations reduce costs, save time, and stay competitive.
1. Hiring & Onboarding
Hiring an employee can take multiple weeks and can be costly. Since the process consists of numerous repetitive and rule-based tasks, RPA can be helpful.
For example, an RPA bot can process applicants with more accuracy and no bias. After finding applicants, the same bot can also screen resumes and candidates.
2. Inventory management
The retail space has multiple labour-intensive activities that are well suited for automation. One particular activity is inventory management, as retailers seek to keep track of various disparate products across multiple regions.
With the new e-Commerce wave, retailers need to ensure sufficient stock to fulfill demand.
Additionally, they need to gain insights from inventory management concerning demand and other market trends. RPA solves these challenges through a variety of automation like:
- Automating notifications of low inventory.
- Automated ordering processes.
- Optimisation of inventory levels to maximise working capital.
3. Call centre operations
Call centres prefer to have all information about customers on a single screen. Rather than looking into multiple apps to gain access to different kinds of details, RPA can be used for website scraping. This makes it easier to display all intended information on a single interface.
Additionally, customer requests received by call centres can also be supported with RPA technology. For example, whenever an issue is escalated to a human customer service agent, RPA can be used to centrally consolidate all the information about a customer.
4. Data migration
Legacy systems still perform vital functions at some companies.
For example, legacy billing systems still interface with newer systems, but cannot pull relevant data from APIs.
In such cases, employees are at times asked to extract relevant information from legacy systems to have the data available for newer systems.
RPA can take over this manual process and successfully complete it without introducing clerical human error. For instance, transferring paper forms to a digital format, then getting the data into the new system. This helps in freeing up humans to do other business tasks.
Additionally, RPA systems can keep data updated to improve analysis and decision-making.
5. Scheduling systems
Scheduling of patients for health appointments can be enhanced online with RPA technology. For example, bots can gather patient details like insurance information, appointment requests, location preferences to make appointment scheduling more streamlined and efficient.
Similarly, RPA can be utilised for scheduling operations in other industries and the corporate sectors.
6. Payroll processing
Payroll processing typically requires manual intervention on a monthly basis. An RPA solution can be leveraged instead to extract details from timesheets to automatically calculate workers’ pay.
Because payroll processing is a repetitive and time-consuming task, RPA can prove useful. This is especially critical when large data volumes are involved as errors and inaccuracies can creep up. These can cause reworks that can lead to delays in payment.
Additionally, an RPA bot can also automatically administer taxable benefits and other applicable employee reimbursements.
7. Underwriting processing
Insurance companies keep details of all the customers who engage them or request details about their insurance products. These records are stored as underwriting records until prospects are converted into customers of the insurance company.
The process of converting prospects to actual customers can be fully automated with an RPA solution. However, all the details are required to be provided to the RPA solution so that they can be processed without any human intervention.
8. Compliance reporting
Compliance reporting is key in some sectors like fleet management. Unfortunately, when companies grow in size, it gets tougher to closely monitor compliance requisites.
RPA tools can be used to ensure software compliance where individuals try to install private software not recommended by the company. Based on different requirements, different kinds of compliance-based RPA software robots can be used.
The article is a part of our comprehensive guide on “The A to Z of robotic process automation”.
LinkedIn: Dr. Yeong Che Fai
Dr Yeong Che Fai is the Chairman and one of the co-founder of DF Automation & Robotics. He is also an Associate Professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. He graduated with a PhD from Imperial College London and his M.Eng and B.Eng were from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. He is known as one of the leading robotics experts in Malaysia.
His interests are in AI, robotics, innovations and entrepreneurship. He has won more than 100 awards such as MOE Entrepreneurship Mentor Award, British Invention Show, Star Outstanding Business Award (SOBA), APICTA and ROBOCON.
He was in Austrian Leadership Program (Vienna) and also the Newton Fund Leader in Innovation Fellowship Program (London) sponsored by the respective government. He had undergone two entrepreneurship programs at Silicon Valley.
He has published close to 100 publications and is a seasonal speaker for various topics including AI, robotics, innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership. He has spoken at TEDx twice and will speak his 3rd TEDx talk in October 2021.