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Robotic Process AutomationWhat the movie Jaws did to inspire unjustified terror in audiences about the shark species, movies such as Terminator and iRobot have done to create an innate fear of robots, in particular, that they’ll go rogue and turn on their human creators.

A less mentioned fear is that they’ll take our jobs. While robotic automation has certainly changed the face of many industries, it hasn’t replaced the workforce, and there’s a good reason why.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) isn’t meant to replace humans, but it can be used to create a cost-effective, human-friendly environment within which businesses can improve performance and thrive.

The business context

Manual, high-volume, repetitive tasks and processes often form the foundation of most day-to-day business operations. This could include tasks and workflows related to finance (such as invoicing), customer service, IT, HR or other business functions. Manual tasks may include logging into applications, navigating to screens, copying and pasting values between applications or other activities required to initiate a workflow or complete a process. Manual tasks don’t just take longer and cost more but they are also susceptible to human error – potentially affecting service levels, the customer experience and organisational efficiency and productivity.

How it works

What RPA does is record, mimic, and then automate the activity of a human being in carrying out a repetitive, high-volume manual task within a process – this can be applied across any business application or system.

RPA is ideal for businesses with legacy, complex, or multiple systems as the automation is non-disruptive, requires no heavy back-end integration, is quick and cost-effective to roll out, and can be scaled and applied instantly. On a purely functional level, this decreases manual processing time, improves accuracy, and reduces the cost of everyday business processes.

With all this, and the Hollywood theme in mind, here are some myths that need to be debunked about RPA, along with the reasons why:

Myth 1: it’s all about cutting costs

While RPA is cost-effective to roll out and one bot can effectively do the work of three human employees (resulting in a potential ROI of 30-200% in the first year of implementation), there’s more to it than saving money. RPA can initially be used as a tactical tool for cost savings but when used as a strategic tool, it will yield enormous long-term benefits. Discovering opportunities to consolidate demand across business units will not just drive savings but also push the organisation towards a more holistic, aligned business strategy and could ultimately drive competitive differentiation.

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