Robotic process automation is in high demand, reveals a recent study from sourcing specialists Aecus. A third of companies says it has already implemented smart software to replicate human activities, with a further 44% expecting to do so in the coming three years.
Recent years have seen the rise of the robots, generally located in factories operating day and night in some of the most highly efficient processes in the wider production value chain. These sometimes monstrous looking machines are physically able with their various appendages to weld, cut, orientate, among others. Yet these are not the only “robots” of the start of the robotic age. With the rapid advance of Artificial Intelligence, the ability for the activity of the human mind to be mimicked by algorithmic processes has too taken hold on a software level.
Robotic process automation (RPA) offers businesses the opportunity to automate a wide variety of their daily processes that was previously done by humans with software robots. These robots might be involved in voice recognition or in simple chat functions at the front end, or be involved in more complex process on the back end in performing the clerical tasks requiring no discretion or subjective judgements. These robots have the possibility of adding considerable value to businesses, since they can be endlessly replicated for often no additional capital costs, are trustworthy, efficient and programmable for a variety of tasks.
Robots in action
In a recent study, titled ‘Innovation Reality Report’, sourcing consultancy Aecus* explores the level of deployment of RPA in the outsourcing sector. The study, based on the views of more than 100 CxO’s, finds that 32% of respondents have already implemented RPAs, with a further 24% to do so within the next 12 months, while 44% are likely to adopt RPAs in the coming year. Rick Simmonds, Managing Partner at Aecus, notes: “Our survey shows that innovation through outsourcing is really happening, and there is an encouraging pattern of businesses adopting new techniques to ensure they can grow and thrive. Robotics may lag behind other trends in terms of what is happening now, but there is a lot of excitement and interest in its potential in the near future.”
Looking ahead, Simmonds says the outlook for the upcoming technology is bright. “With early implementations already bearing fruit, robotics look set to fundamentally reshape many areas of outsourcing and client businesses.”
Benefits and drawbacks
The benefits for implementing robotic process automation can be significant – according to a recently released viewpoint from Alsbridge robots can deliver a 60% reduction in the cost of many IT services. To tap into the growing demand from clients in the robotic space, the consulting firm recently launched a RPA service line to helps clients identify places in their value chain that can benefit from RPA as well as solutions for implementation.
Robotics is however not only good news, in particular if it is looked at from an employment perspective. A report from Deloitte and Oxford released last year reveals that the ‘robot revolution’ threatens to displace almost 35% of UK jobs in the coming twenty years.
* Aecus was founded in December 2014, after the team decided to separate from the Alsbridge group, with which it had a strategic alliance and brand sharing agreement. Alsbridge has since been rebuilding its UK capabilities, and recently acquired Oxford-based Source as part of its expansion strategy.