What is RPA?
RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation but it has nothing to do with assembly-line robots that may come to mind. It is one of the latest software use case for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) in enterprise applications.
According to Clint Boulton, RPA will handle “high-volume, repeatable tasks that previously required humans to perform. These tasks can include queries, calculations and maintenance of records and transactions,” and are often called low-value tasks.
The objective of RPA is to automate repeatable — and likely boring — business tasks in order to allow employees to use their skills to work on more complex ones requiring advanced problem-solving. Furthermore, RPA software is at work for your business 24-hours a day.
In order to apply RPA to your existing business processes, you need to identify a process that is a good match. According to consulting firm, EY, a good candidate-process for RPA will have one or more of the following 3 characteristics:
- The actions are consistent, with the same step being performed repeatedly
- It is template driven, with data being entered into specific fields in a repetitive manner
- It is rules-based, to allow decision flows to alter dynamically
Source: EY, Robotic process automation. Automation's next frontier. (2018)
Application examples in finance
The finance industry has already adopted RPA for some tasks.
Leslie Willcocks, professor of technology, work, and globalization at the London School of Economics’ department of management, says that RPA can help solve compliance problems. “Companies in highly regulated industries such as insurance and banking are finding that automation is a cheap and fast way of applying superior capability to the problem of compliance” due to the “massive increase in audit regulation and bureaucracy.”
A well-designed implementation of RPA will ensure that all the process steps will be followed to the letter every time, ensuring compliance with strict standards
In addition to the compliance benefits, RPA can be used for insurance claims processing.
“Claims processing is much data and document intensive. It needs you to collect a vast amount of information from varying sources. A claim process that is manual and lengthy can create trouble to both customer service and operations.” (Source: Unlocking Insights) "RPA helps the insurers in easily gathering data from various sources to be used at the centralized documents so that the claims can be processed in much faster pace.”
Deutsche Bank is using RPA to process routine transactions.
Source: Deutsche Bank
In its YouTube video (above), Deutsche Bank gives an example of one of their RPA implementations: the creation of routine invoices. The robot interacts with existing software tools and systems such as SAP, email, and spreadsheets.
To implement RPA, you will require some infrastructure — both cloud-based or on-premise solutions are available. Companies like Blue Prism (engaged by Deutsche Bank) and UiPath, offer RPA consulting and infrastructure services.
The hardware requirements for an on-premise setup are reasonable. To run UiPath’s applications, for instance, 4- to 16-core CPUs are required, and 100 to 600 GB storage. The key element that will determine hardware configurations is the number of robots – more robots means more storage and more processing power.
CIARA’s RS610-G4 uses dual Intel Xeon Scalable processor family and can be configured with up to 10 hot swappable hard drives allowing you to add more storage as the number of robots grows.
According to Maximilian Mittereder: “Development and implementation of an RPA solution is relatively quick, typically taking between 6 and 14 weeks and payback periods are usually around 4 to 8 months.”
One of the major concerns — especially when new technology is involved —is potential job loss; however, Leslie Willcocks believes that organizations will adapt and offers a positive outlook:
“In the longer term, RPA means people will have more interesting work. For 130 years we’ve been making jobs uninteresting and deskilled. The evidence is that it’s not whole jobs that will be lost but parts of jobs, and you can reassemble work into different types of job. It will be disruptive, but organizations should be able to absorb that level of change. The relationship between technology and people has to change in the future for the better, and I think RPA is one of the great tools to enable that change”
RPA can revolutionize not only the finance industry but other verticals as well – transportation, manufacturing, and IT. In essence, any business with repeatable, standard processes is a candidate for automation. And with automation comes reduced workloads and costs associated with operations. Finally, customer satisfaction will improve as a result of fewer errors associated with manual processes.
Contact a CIARA representative for assistance in selecting the hardware best suited to your RPA application.