The new associate of Artificial Intelligence (AI) appearing in tech-news headlines is Robotic Process Automation (RPA).We all would agree to the fact that AI takes away the limelight in every technology related discussion, so it may be safely assumed that the humanity at large has assimilated the basic connotation of the term.
Is RPA all about robots?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of the most popular Artificial Intelligence applications, currently. It surely has nothing to do with typical shiny physical robots, rather it is a user-friendly generic software tool designed using screen scraping and other technologies to create specialized agents/bots developed to automate highly-structured, repetitive yet dreary tasks thus relieving the knowledge workers. The catch lies in the fact that it allows enterprises with legacy systems (which includes most large non-tech companies) to mechanize their clerical workflows like transferring data from multiple input sources like email and excels to ERP and CRM systems and much more. In spite of the latest buzz around the disruptive technologies like AI and cognitive solutions, RPA while being at an adolescent stage, has still managed to attract many enterprises to adopt new approach towards managing their Business Processes.
Modus Operandi of RPA
RPA is mainly intended to automate the repetitive tasks to save the time & cost. In a traditional workflow automation system, there are quite a few options which can be put to use to automate some of the tasks. For instance, Cron Jobs can be implemented in any programming language or scripting language with a list of actions which can run and perform certain tasks at a specific time. On the contrary, RPA software develops the sequence of actions to automate the process by observing the user who performs certain actions using the application’s GUI. Basically, RPA is based on rules which can guide a program to how to respond under certain conditions.
According to a report published by MarketsandMarkets called Robotic Process Automation Market by Process (Automated solution, Decision Support & Management Solution, and Interaction Solution), Operation (Rule Based and Knowledge Based), Type (Tools and Services), Industry, and Geography – Global Forecast to 20221, the robotic process automation market is estimated to reach USD 2,467.0 million by 2022, at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 30.14% between 2017 and 2022.
Does it deserve the merit?
While automating a process, RPA manages to positively impact various aspects. It achieves speed, accuracy, reliability, scalability, productivity, consistency, simplicity and efficiency. In addition to this, RPA provides satisfactory outcome and ROI for all the involved stakeholders. Businesses using RPA experience cost saving and reduced risk leading to improved business results. Of course, the latest technology deserves to be referred to as simply outstanding.
Impact on employment:
Though there are mixed views around the globe by different media houses and industry experts regarding the loss of jobs due to RPA but most of positive predictions are now becoming less believable and the truth is, RPA implementation will surely lead to loss of jobs for those who work in automatable tasks requiring minimum skills. RPA is a big threat to BPO industries and it has already started changing the way BPOs work. It will not be wrong if we say this is the only industry which can definitely take strategic advantages offered by RPA most significantly. Soon, traditional BPOs will turn into Robotic BPOs. It is clear that, automation will turn some positions redundant and therefore up-skilling of employees and engaging them in different functions would be a sensible option to prevent large scale unemployment which accompanies obvious negative social as well as individual impact.
According to a joint report conducted by Nasscom and Everest Group2 named “Seizing the Robotic Process Automation market Opportunity”, RPA will change the service provider/BMP(Business Process Management) delivery model which will be tilting more towards a middle heavy delivery model. Therefore, in a positive light, RPA may be considered as a catalyst to growth of high value jobs for skilled engineers and process designers.
Summing it up:
While this promising technology seems to be branching out from the family tree of AI, yet AI and RPA may also be treated as parallel technologies from some perspectives. What logically follows is, both could be used in synergy to create optimum traction in the world of digitization.