The rise of robotic process automation in APAC Source: Shutterstock

Asia automated? The rampant rise of RPA

  • The adoption of RPA across multiple global industries is rising at a breakneck speed
  • RPA is relatively new, with first grand appearance to the automation scene in 2010. But considering the technology age, its growth is rampant

Robotic process automation (RPA) is growing at a rapid rate worldwide with the global market size expected to reach US$5 billion by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 61.3%, according to PwC.

RPA also comes with the promise of up to 45% automation of work activities and US$2 trillion savings in global workforce cost. Specifically, in the Asia Pacific region (APAC), the RPA market size is expected to worth US$2.9 billion and grow by 203% by 2021.

What is RPA and why should businesses adapt?

RPA simply automates complex, rule-based processes across multiple systems that mimic the way human beings process information. It allows flexibility to work on a 24/7/365 basis in many of the daily operations in particular on the repetitive process of handling massive data in the accounting and finance functions across various industries.

For example, to enhance operational efficiency, enterprises are leveraging RPA to automate their processes such as payroll processing, customer support, new employee onboarding, order processing, SMS and email monitoring, and CRM updates

The technology requires a combination of continuous effort, improvement, and know-how, which involves processes, people, and technology. It cannot process unstructured data, think or learn by itself without complementary cognitive solution or adapt to changes in its environment of the application.

Operational efficiency and cost reduction are key to robotic process automation adoption by enterprises across the Asia Pacific, says GlobalData.

Technology analyst at GlobalData Shravani Kore said, “RPA relieves human workers of their repetitive daily tasks by processing workflow much quicker and consequently more efficient. It also improves and scales up businesses, data security, and effectiveness.”

RPA providers are also capitalizing on the current Covid-19 outbreak scenario to focus on expanding their customer base and building customer loyalty. Some of the methods being adopted include discounted pricing, no cost RPA license, and seamless deployment of bots. 

For instance, Datamatics in India has offered its RPA product ‘TruBot’ for free until September 2020 for enterprises across the sectors under the Covid-19 Enterprise Support Program.

Start-ups have also begun offering RPA solutions for niche areas like smart scanning, image recognition, intelligent document processing, and pattern recognition. Singapore-based Glee Trees leverages AI technologies such as natural language processing and contextual analysis to read structured and unstructured data from multiple Asian languages.

Confidence in its potential return on investment has also encouraged the growing adoption of RPA. Furthermore, think about how a company can still produce or deliver its services when its human capital is not at work, outside of business hours, on leave, or unable to attend to it due to a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among APAC companies, In the past year, 53% of businesses reported a revenue increase in the areas where they applied RPA. All project revenue is expected to increase in the next two years. GlobalData believes Beijing and Bangalore, in particular, are emerging as leaders in the space in APAC. 

In August last year, Automation Anywhere announced an investment of US$100 million in India to set up research and development centers over the following five years. In Beijing, RPA start-up Laiye raised US$42m from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Lightspeed China Partners.  Similarly, China-based Encootech raised US$30m from Sequoia Capital China, GSR Ventures, and Future Capital in March 2020.

Now more than ever, organizations should consider evaluating the power of RPA and both the tangible and intangible benefits it offers. As the related skills and tools are growing, the technology has reached a significant level of maturity and the automation of tasks of virtually any level of complexity has been made possible.