How Companies Can Take Advantage of the $3.7 Billion Robotics Opportunity

IDC recently predicted the worldwide robotic process automation (RPA) software market will total $3.7 billion by 2022.

That’s because people in departments such as finance and human resources (HR) are realizing that RPA is not the next big thing. It is the new normal, as bots continue to boost efficiencies, customer service, and cost-savings. Indeed, these are the top reasons why companies are adopting artificial intelligence (AI), according to Gartner research analysts.

I jumped at the chance to see RPA in action last month at SAP TechEd Las Vegas. In a video demonstration, Meijie He, IT IRPA expert at SAP, showed how developers can create effective SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation bots running on SAP Cloud Platform.

The Hottest Industries for RPA

Banking, insurance, and healthcare are among RPA’s biggest early adopters, and it is easy to see why. Well-trained bots can quickly sift through millions of financial transactions and share suspected fraud alerts — far faster than humans. People take over to do what humans do best: using judgment to resolve potential problems. The same goes for the insurance industry. RPA can help manage claims faster by focusing on the most repetitive tasks, leaving the judgment calls and relationship-building to humans. Healthcare is a poster child for RPA’s promised outcome. Doctors could spend more time talking with patients and addressing their healthcare concerns than filling out redundant forms.

The Truth About Building Bots

While fears about bots replacing humans persist, putting RPA to work for businesses takes a hefty dose of thoughtfulness. He explained that companies first need to figure outwhere RPA could make a real difference. In IT parlance, these are called use cases. Broadly speaking, there are two types: fully automated scenarios that do not require additional human input, or partially automated processes that involve humans in some steps. Regardless, bot IQ and efficacy depend on the ability to bring in data from all kinds of places. Content could be anywhere and usually is, including documents in software applications in various systems inside and outside of the organization.

“In typical use cases, you have to enter the same data into several instances of systems,” said He. “For example, with shared service centers, which are common in industries like healthcare, insurance, and banking, you have to enter purchase requisition information into several systems. Another use case is finance, where you have to collect invoice numbers from different systems. These scenarios can be automated to improve accuracy, save time, and increase overall productivity.”

Bots Can Solve Problems in Every Industry

Finance, HR, and customer service departments cut across all industries – each bursting with time-consuming processes ripe for RPA intervention.

“Bots can automatically send customer support tickets to the right place for faster resolution,” said He. “For any department, bots can more quickly pull data from different systems to create one consolidated report with accurate, updated information.”

SAP recently used SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation to improve the company’s employee hiring experience. As a result, the bot was the ideal tool to collect employee and company information from various systems containing the data that was included in offer packages.

“We were able to easily configure the bot and embed it into the HR processes,” said He. “Now when we have a new hire or employee transfer, the bot collects and extracts the relevant data using a template, generates the offer letter, converts it to the required format, and after HR review, it’s sent the applicant. It’s particularly valuable in making sure the letter meets country-specific legal requirements.”

With a $3 billion opportunity, rethinking business processes with intelligent RPA is well worth the business investment.