As RPA advances rapidly, the demand for specialist roles in the area continues to rise and more businesses are on the lookout for new talent to join their teams. Find out more about the use of RPA across a range of different industries, how it is transforming the world and how you can get involved.
What is RPA?
Robotic Process Automation is a method of automating business operations using computer programmes which replicate manual processes or human activities. Put simply, this means that any repetitive tasks such as reading, collecting data, filling out forms or performing calculations can be carried out by a computer software programme.
So far, RPA has proven extremely beneficial for all types of businesses as it helps to free up high-value employee time. An RPA system can complete a task, on average, four times faster than a human worker, as well as enhance process quality and accuracy. There are countless advantages when it comes to RPA that extend beyond business success. RPA can have a direct positive impact on employee satisfaction, customer experience and, more broadly, the world at large.
RPA in Banking
Previously, banking employees would be required to carry out tedious manual tasks, such as reading through extensive documentation or validating credit card applications. These tasks are both inefficient and prone to human error. Banks cannot afford to make mistakes as even minor errors can result in bad customer experience or slow processing times and, in worse cases, they can incur regulatory fines. In recent years, misreporting transactions and poor handling of mortgages has left multiple banks with hefty bills over $30 million!
Instantaneous banking is crucial in a time where customers expect real-time transactions and updates. Without the right technology, banks would be unable to deliver services to meet customer demand. Adopting RPA gives banks a competitive advantage and enables them to carry out everyday transactions quickly and accurately. They are able to offer swift services for both personal and business accounts, mobile banking options and 24/7 chat bots - all essential to keep up with modern customer expectations. For example, RPA can reduce the time it takes to complete a credit card application from one week to just a couple of minutes. In most cases, customers will be unaware of whether their banking is being dealt with by a human employee or computer software.
However, most importantly, RPA plays a significant role in protecting customers and providing them with secure banking, reduced risks of data breaches and added safety measures, including fraud-detection algorithms.
Many banks have rolled out RPA across their branches - The Bank of Ireland, for example, uses RPA to increase the efficiency of over 100 processes, including credit card account opening, withdrawal notifications and pin activation. These RPA systems are designed to increase business productivity and ensure a seamless customer experience, with little risk of mistakes or long wait times.
The Bank of Ireland plans to spread its use of RPA over 200 more processes with further AI capabilities. This would, however, rely on a large robotics programming team to develop and maintain the new processes. As many other banks also follow suit and continue expanding in this field, there will be a significant rise in demand for RPA specialists in the banking industry.
RPA in Healthcare
Healthcare services have long been under strain with many hospitals and surgeries continuing to function overstretched and understaffed. RPA offers an effective solution for these issues, helping to take on a portion of an employee's workload and carry out administrative tasks. This is crucial when dealing with medical processes since staff are expected to work through hundreds of documents each day where accuracy is essential.
In the UK, the NHS has implemented ‘virtual workers’ in The Ipswich Hospital, which uses RPA to aid medical secretaries in their daily duties and free them from routine or repetitive tasks. The software system in place allows GP referrals to run smoothly and efficiently by collating all relevant clinical information and forwarding this on to a consultant. A process like this would typically take a person 20 minutes to complete manually, but only takes 5 minutes using RPA. Since the entire process is automated, there is no risk of human error.
In just a short space of time, the NHS virtual workers have saved 500+ hours of medical secretary time and are predicted to save the NHS £220,000 per year. Imagine the impact this could have in the long run across hospitals nation-wide when implemented over additional administrative processes. The NHS could save millions which could contribute to increasing salaries for medical personnel or modernising equipment, while also reducing time restraints and greatly improving staff well-being.
RPA in Supply Chain
RPA is revolutionising supply chains across the world in many ways, including modernising inventory management and forecasting. Typically, manual stocktakes are extremely complicated and can take days to complete, even for a small business. However, with RPA, every product is accounted for within a database and tracked across the warehouse on a continuous basis, allowing the system to predict demand and order stock accordingly. Likewise, many businesses experience difficulties keeping up with high volumes of returns and refunds. RPA can process returns and issue refunds automatically within a set period, ensuring quality customer service.
RPA has also proven effective for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) integration in supply chains and can take responsibility for invoice data entry, validation and monitoring. This reduces manual data entry and migration costs hugely while also increasing accuracy.
International beer company, Heineken, has implemented a virtual workforce to help boost efficiency of data handling to save time for employees to work on more valuable tasks. The company believes that a ‘robot’ workforce allows for higher employee engagement by taking the monotonous or, in some cases, impossible tasks away from humans and assigning them to automated systems instead.
At Heineken, an RPA system is in place to bring together their fragmented business landscape and streamline supply chain. It works by pulling data from the ERP system and storing all the necessary reporting in one database. This enables their IT team to deliver solutions more efficiently and have much faster business outcomes.
For instance, if an employee requires information to change master data, they will interact with the shared database via a chat bot that will ask a set of basic questions and produce an accurate answer. A human would be unable to filter through such a large volume of data to provide a precise response, but RPA makes this possible.
Improving supply chain makes it easier for large businesses to operate on a multi-national level and makes goods and services accessible on a global scale. This way, there is a constant and reliable supply of products which ensures shop shelves are kept stocked and customers receive their order in a timely manner, no matter where they are in the world.
RPA in Agriculture
The world population is growing rapidly and this brings newchallenges in all aspects of life, one of the greatest being food production and agriculture.
Farming involves various operations and expertise beyond animal rearing and cultivation, including roles such as logistics and finance. Traditionally, each operation would be carried out manually which is both time consuming and prone to human error, and can lead to inefficiencies. In order to keep up with increasing demand for high quality food, farmers are now required to modernise their farming practices and adopt new technologies, notably RPA. On a global scale, RPA will allow for farmers to continue at a much higher productivity rate and play an important role to ensure global food security long-term.
RPA is used in agriculture to control many key processes and metrics to help operations run smoothly by dealing with mass volumes of data in various formats. Some examples include monitoring livestock, crop yields and transportation rates. This is important to help farmers succeed in a competitive market by streamlining any administrative or data-related tasks. In this way, farmers are able to increase efficiency, improve accuracy and reliability of data, and reduce risks across operations.
Hyperautomation: The Future of RPA
Hyperautomation takes RPA a step further by incorporating machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, enabling RPA tools to learn from themselves. By integrating this way, RPA tools become self-improving, reducing the need for human input for further development.
Gartner predicts that 65% of businesses that have already implemented RPA will soon introduce Artificial Intelligence, including Natural Language Processing (NPL), Advanced Analytics and Process Mining.
These businesses are most likely to see an increase in team productivity with less manual tasks to be completed and an increased number of operations executed automatically. Nonetheless, collaboration between humans and technology will always be key to a successful business - you cannot have one without the other. With the right technology, employees are empowered with the necessary tools and have more time to learn new skills and work on high-value tasks.
By incorporating Hyperautomation, businesses will benefit from greater digital agility, which will enable them to seamlessly adopt new technologies in the future. As a result, these businesses will thrive, keep up with modern demands and offer higher quality services to their customers. As our few examples demonstrate, this could be in a range of industries and have a meaningful impact on real lives, providing anything from improved health care services to secure mobile banking. The possibilities of RPA and Hyperautomation are endless.
RPA at FDM
At FDM, we offer you the opportunity to launch your career in the industry with our Robotic Process Automation Graduate Programme. You don’t need to have a technical background to be successful in RPA. Many of the required skills, such as an analytical mindset, logical thinking and problem solving, you’ll already have from your university education. At FDM, we will provide you with expert industry training in addition to a work placement with our leading clients across a range of industries, including world-renowned banks, healthcare providers, media enterprises and many more.
Does a role in RPA sound like an exciting career choice for you? Find out more and apply here.