How is RPA helping Asian businesses grow? Source: Shutterstock

The hidden robots behind Asia’s growth

TECHNOLOGY is heralded for its ability to transform the workplace by increasing productivity, agility, and job satisfaction.

Recently, we have seen the prolific adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) within the workplace. Otherwise known as software bots, RPA has the power to process and extract data, and integrate with other technologies.

RPA is able to automate many rules-based processes and repetitive tasks within the business. It acts as a solution to streamline many back-end processes that often overwhelm employees, by shifting many of these responsibilities from humans to machines.

RPA as an industry has grown considerably over the past few years and is expected to be worth US$5 billion by 2024, with 46 percent of organizations in the Asia-Pacific region adapting their technology strategy and ramping up investment in RPA and automation.

Thomas Chin, vice president of sales (APAC) of UiPath, an AI-based services for enterprises in the area of RPA, shared his views with TechWireAsia on how the technology is facilitating Asia’s growth.

Enhancing customer service

RPA is becoming popular among firms who wish to provide a higher level of customer service, especially in those services where speed is important.

By taking care of the repetitive, high-volume daily tasks that bog down the team, RPA allows employees to truly focus on serving customers with the best possible service.

By taking care of the time-consuming, repetitive tasks, RPA can help businesses improve customer service. Source: Shutterstock

“For example, a telecoms company that bills its consumers on a regular basis, a financial institution that processes and evaluates mortgage claims, thus ensuring that staff can dedicate their time and efforts on tasks that require more human interaction,” explained Chin.

Reducing business costs

The need for organizations to optimize their operating costs while increasing the quality of the service they provide is crucial in today’s hyper-competitive market.

RPA is a key driver for cost-savings. But how? Business processes which typically require the help of a full-time human can be replaced by a software robot (RPA). Unlike their human counterpart, software robots make fewer mistakes, do not complain, and can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

“RPA is supporting workers in offices and enhancing the productivity of Japanese companies, especially in the banking and finance industry, in which RPA can cut cost for firms by 75 percent, resulting in 25 percent to 50 percent cost savings,” Chin explained to TechWireAsia.

“At present, UiPath in Japan is working with 70 percent of the largest banks in the country, including Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, which is forecast to save $500 million in costs by 2020,” he added. 

Creating jobs: not snatching them

So, if these “software robots” have the ability to do our job at a far quicker rate and with much more accuracy than ourselves, where does this leave us?!

According to Chin, RPA isn’t a threat to our jobs. In fact, more jobs are being created as a result. In a nutshell, RPA takes the robot out of the human, allowing us to do more brain work than hand work.

As more tasks and processes become automated, there will be an increase in the number of people working in higher-value jobs that are more personalized and require reasoning, creativity, and empathy.

RPA allows employees to focus on more valuable tasks. Source: Shutterstock

“RPA implementation turns accountants from bean counters, into more valuable consultants. Automation pushes accountants to attain a broader business knowledge and provide more insights and direction for the client,” Chin explained.

In parts of Asia such as India, 200,000 jobs are estimated to be created by RPA by 2021.

“RPA ensures that employees will be able to better dedicate their time and efforts on more customer-centric aspects of the business that require more human interaction,” added Chin.

“With RPA being a human augmenter and not a replacement, it tackles attributes that do not require human reasoning.”

Helping a variety of industries across Asia

RPA has contributed to a variety of services throughout Asia, including banking, financial services, insurance, automotive, and health.

“The common denominators among these industries are the large volume of data entry and switching among various applications,” explained Chin.

RPA has the ability to handle structured and unstructured data and is applicable for any task that is rules-based, repetitive, and handles a large number of transactions. This, of course, spans almost every industry and sector you can think of.

In Malaysia, a major pharmaceutical firm is working with UiPath to leverage RPA to automate order processes, invoicing processing, data access, as well as in logistics.

“Their main objectives are to improve efficiency, reduce manpower requirements and provide better delivery of drugs to government hospitals, in turn making healthcare accessible to more Malaysians,” explained Chin.

With the benefits of RPA being so clear, there is no wonder as to why adoption across organizations in the Asia-Pacific region is so fast-paced.

Those businesses who are slow to adopt will risk losing out against competitors, in terms of saving costs, delivering customer service excellence, and streamlining business operations.