RPA in 2021: Digital Transformation during the Pandemic

Published on in Robotic Process Automation by Cristian Ignat

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives completely: the way we live, work, eat, sleep, the way we spend our free time, and so on. At the same time, it has led to a broad-scale change of the world as we know it.

The main consequence of the pandemic was the swift and huge shift from offline to online, a.k.a. digitization. And if by now digital transformation was a priority only for a few industries and companies, the pandemic compelled everyone to accelerate it, whether they were ready or not. Companies had to act. Fast.

In fact, according to a new McKinsey Global Survey of executives, due to the pandemic, companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years. What’s more interesting, these changes are expected to last and, moreover, to further alter business paradigms forever. 

What does that mean, exactly? For example, the time required to increase remote work or collaboration had an acceleration factor of 43 – it has been implemented in only 10.5 days, compared to 454 days as expected. Let that sink in for a minute, while you look at the chart below:

RPA in 2021: Digital Transformation during the Pandemic 1

Source: McKinsey & Company

What’s next for RPA in 2021? In order to remain competitive in the new business landscape, companies need to adapt their strategies from scratch, as the technology that supports their functions has become critical.

Automation is mandatory for almost every business, taking into account there are many aspects and processes that can be automated within a company. As an official UiPath partner, we at Aggranda share in their vision and mission to bring ‘a robot on every desk’.

According to Gartner, robotic process automation (RPA) revenues are set to reach $1.89 billion in 2021, an increase of 19.5% from 2020. Despite economic pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the RPA market is still expected to grow at double-digit rates through 2024.

RPA is a game changer for digital transformation during the pandemic

Essentially, robotic process automation can perform repetitive, time-consuming tasks that require little human intervention. What’s more, RPA doesn’t change the company’s IT structure.

If until now robotic process automation was a technology with huge potential used by companies with complex processes, in pandemic times, it is a key factor driving scalable growth for all businesses. 

According to EY, companies that implemented RPA before the pandemic are the luckiest – because they encountered less operational problems, due to its ability to perform duties faster and more accurately.

Robotic process automation is already widely used in a plethora of industries and organizations, due to its benefits, such as: 

  • Better business results: RPA allows employees to focus on meaningful tasks, which can translate to higher revenues for the company;
  • Cost savings with wages: companies can up-skill employees in order to fill more critical roles within the company, whereas jobs that require repetitive work could be successfully automated;  
  • Reduced risk of errors: software robots are never tired and they don’t get distracted, so they can work accurately 24/7 if needed;
  • Increased customer satisfaction: reducing the risk of errors, customers will no longer have to endure long waiting times and complain about poor quality services;
  • Higher data quality: RPA is suitable for extracting and managing data needed for complex business reports and analyses;
  • Improved employee satisfaction: using RPA for mundane tasks allows them to focus on more important tasks, which improves their motivation and productivity level; 
  • Compliance benefits: robotic process automation can significantly reduce the risk of fraud. 

In fact, RPA has many benefits depending on the industry where it is being implemented. In the finance industry there are many processes suitable for automation, for example invoice processing and accounts receivable. 

We’ve built a software robot responsible for Accounts Receivable Invoice Processing, named Alex – watch him in action in our case study that shows how he saves an accounting company 64 hours per month. Alex can read invoices from a .csv file, add invoices in the accounting software, create new profiles for companies and input data in the accounting software.

Rosy is another example of software robot developed by Aggranda for digital advertising agency Canopy, that can download invoices from Google Ads accounts, creates new invoices from the platform and emails them to clients.

And this is not all; according to UiPath, the benefits of automation are very visible also in HR departments: faster employee onboarding; return on investment on payroll achieved in 4 months; staff costs reduced by 60% and processing time reduced by 85%.  

Thanks to a UiPath software robot built by us, the team at First Bank can now save more than 120 hours every month. The robot performs the onboarding process for all the new employees quickly, and efficiently. Another great example is Arya, another HR software robot built on the UiPath platform that helps Provident with both onboarding and offboarding employees.

How to implement RPA responsibly in 2021

Generally speaking, digital transformation has to be carefully implemented in order to obtain results. Here’s what you should keep in mind if you’re just starting out on your RPA journey.

First of all, you need a clear analysis of the company’s workflow, processes, and tasks performed by everybody (the ones eligible to be automated require a lot of high-volume, mundane work and attention to detail). 

You also need to create an open and reliable communication channel with your staff, explaining the benefits of digital transformation and RPA for them, as well as for the company. Then, you should prioritize which processes can bring the most significant ROI. In the end, a successful RPA implementation depends on the smooth collaboration between all the parties involved.

Unfortunately, in times of uncertainty such as these, you can’t put off decisions for too long. This is why implementing RPA responsibly during the pandemic requires an experienced partner that can help guide you every step of the way, such as Aggranda.

The future of work

Remote work has already become ‘the new normal’ due to digital transformation. Besides, the adoption of RPA in 2021 will contribute to an important evolution of the global labour market, allowing employees to use complex skills (analytical thinking, complex problem-solving, decision-making abilities) more and more in their work, every day. 

Now is the moment for companies to invest in RPA solutions and up-skill their workforce to not only survive, but thrive in the future – no matter how unstable it might be.  

Conclusion 

Automation has the potential to increase a company’s performance, but actually it’s much more than that. If we think about the role RPA has played for other industries, such as healthcare or the public sector (responsible for the welfare of its citizens), we can see how digital transformation can be used to create a better world and improve the quality of lives.