Robotic process automation is an emerging form of clerical process automation technology based on the notion of software robots or artificial intelligence (AI) workers.
The faster you harvest their potential, the faster you create a competitive edge for your business. Robotic Process Automation delivers direct profitability while improving accuracy across organizations and industries. Designed to perform on a vast range of repetitive tasks, software robots interpret, trigger responses and communicate with other systems just like humans do. Only substantially better: a robot never sleeps, makes zero mistakes and costs a lot less than an employee.
Impact of RPA on employment
According to Harvard Business Review, most operations groups adopting Robotic Process have promised their employees that automation would not result in layoffs. Instead, workers have been redeployed to do more interesting work. One academic study highlighted that knowledge workers did not feel threatened by automation: they embraced it and viewed the robots as team-mates. The same study highlighted that, rather than resulting in a lower “headcount”, the technology was deployed in such a way as to achieve more work and greater productivity with the same number of people.
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Conversely however, some analysts proffer that RPA represents a threat to the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. The thesis behind this notion is that RPA will enable enterprises to “repatriate” processes from offshore locations into local data centers, with the benefit of this new technology. The effect, if true, will be to create high value jobs for skilled process designers in onshore locations (and within the associated supply chain of IT hardware, data center management, etc.) but to decrease the available opportunity to low skilled workers offshore. On the other hand, this discussion appears to be healthy ground for debate as another academic study was at pains to counter the so-called “myth” that RPA will bring back many jobs from offshore.
The future of Robotic Process Automation
The future of RPA is subject to much speculation, as the early majority adopt the technology and discover new uses and new synergies. Possible future trends may include:
A convergence of BPM and RPA tools, much in the way that the distinction between BPM and workflow tools is now blurred. The acquisition of OpenSpan in 2016 by Pegasystems is perhaps just one early indication of such a convergence.
Greater incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) for advanced decision making and inferencing. Some analysts speculate about such developments but, yet it is not easy to identify verifiable public domain case studies which provide evidence of this type of technology being deployed alongside RPA.
Impact on Society
Academic studies project that RPA, among other technological trends, is expected to drive a new wave of productivity and efficiency gains in the global labour market. Although not directly attributable to RPA alone, Oxford University conjectures that up to 35% of all jobs may have been automated by 2035.
In a TEDx talk hosted by UCL in London, entrepreneur David Moss explains that digital labour in the form of RPA is not only likely to revolutionizes the cost model of the services industry by driving the price of products and services down, but that it is likely to drive up service levels, quality of outcomes and create increased opportunity for the personalisation of services.