Services industry have been covering the the biggest share of the global economy, currently at the level of over 60%, with manufacturing of over 30% and agriculture of less than 5%. It has been dynamically evolving during the past decade, with a few important trends that impacted it substantially. Starting from the beginning of XX century, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) has been related to using external providers for executing some tasks required for our business. The second half of the century has been dominated by the offshoring (or global sourcing) of various tasks, firstly from the manufacturing, but later also service domain. During 2000 – 2020 the top trend observed in Europe market has been the services nearshoring, where substantial amounts of tasks have been moved to geographically closed locations, seeking for cost control and reduction, performance improvement and access to larger and more efficient talent pools. Cloud computing, based on real-time processing of data at remote servers, enabled the service products transition to ‘as-a-service’ model, as well as virtualization of desktops. Using algorithms and cognitive computing for high volume, variety and velocity of data resulted in big data analytics. All these changes have brought natural fear among some workers afraid of loosing their jobs. Nevertheless, such examples as the invention of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) that not reduced, but doubled the number of bank tellers’ jobs in the US between 1980-2010 prove that technology does not make our jobs extinct, but enable them to change in nature.
Robotics Process Automation (RPA) has been named by Willcocks et al. as: ‘an application of technology leading to automating business processes’. In other words, this is a business solution being a ‘software robot’ that captures and follows the same steps as a human worker when executing business processes: in data manipulation, transactions, and digital systems integration. RPA is a software imitating human actions that is based on predefined rules followed by humans. The PRA process means a sequence of definitions and optimized steps, built, tested and deployed. The concept is a relatively young in the innovation era, but already perceived as the key element of the 6th innovation wave, along with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Radical Resourcing and Productivity.
Robotics is strongly impacting daily service operations today, both on the micro level and globally. Robotic process automation (RPA) market has been growing and is forecasted to grow further with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29% during 2017-2023, according to Market Research Future (MRFR). Most of the companies is already executing, or planning to implement RPA in the near future, in order to take the robot out of the human and release workers from the most mundane tasks that bring no value to their organization. Automation is already proven to be a tool for business growth not only savings, as it stimulates imagination and it is impressive for clients. According to F. Etro it has proved to increase Europe’s GDP.
There are multiple market drivers of RPA:
As a result, robotics has proven to be effective when it comes to execution of many tasks. It optimizes capacity and is not able to make any mistake. It also makes more sustainable operations by reducing multiple types of operating costs and footprints.
The top global companies offer Automation as a Service (AasS) product, where the software robot is available 24/7, interruption and error free, relying on well-described processes with structured data and predefined rules. The virtual workforce in the cloud is commonly referred to as Centre of Excellence (CoE). Big data algorithms are increasingly ‘taught’ to generate business rules for the robots, through exploring, describing and utilizing big data with the use of probabilistic mathematic methods. Such a data-driven approach requires large data sets, and gives impressive results for processes done massively, repetitively, and need high accuracy. As we witness a paradigm shift from traditional programming to the use of more sophisticated products, modern solutioning combines standard RPA with Digitizing/Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), chat/voice bots. Optimized implementation framework can ensure smooth transition across key steps of RPA journey: Strategy and Potential indentification, Analysis and Solution Design, Platfom Preparations, Coding and Implementation, Maintenance.
Damian Kedziora is a Doctor of Industrial Engineering and Management from Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland. He has been working for top global corporations of banking and ICT industry specialising in efficient service migrations to offshore locations. Currently works as Solution Consultant at Intelligent Automation by NORIAN, one of the leading Nordic providers of Robotic Process Automation: https://www.iabynorian.com/