Let’s make it clear – RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is probably the dumbest automation technology today. But at the same time, it’s the most efficient, transparent and the fastest one. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re just lagging behind.
If you are reading this article you probably have heard about the disruptive thing called RPA. Zillion words have been spoken and thousands of headlines created about the technology. Instead of repeating the same, now-empty, phrases I’ll tell you why I’m so big fan of it. It’ll be a story about mathematics and time.
Everything which is measurable can be optimized. This ever-truth was a ground for how we do business today – working on KPI’s, ROI’s, CAGR’s, Quality processes or… sales bonuses. Some things are obviously very easy to determine, but there are other measures, of which to work out is like hitting the jackpot. Just hard.
Measuring the outcome of our investments is challenging especially in the information area. The number of new solutions skyrocketed and doesn’t want to ease. When everything is integrated, software changes and updates are delivered on daily basis, in the world of extremely scalable cloud-solutions it’s a real uphill battle to answer the basic questions: What’s the impact? What are the numbers? In other words, the questions CIOs often face: Why did you buy this?
In that context, RPA is so different than other existing technologies. I’ve never seen such transparent and easy to calculate technology. I remember when I saw for the first time when our analysts did the math about robots for the prospect. I was wowed! It was like pure mathematics in elementary school: some adding, multiplying and one or two divisions. Pure numbers. We’re able to show the client the exact business case for the process. And numbers don’t lie, right? (some say statistics does…).
In order to give, or not, a green light for a robot (or a process to be robotized), we must conduct an analysis. The analysis is as simple as follows:
a) Let’s measure how long the process (or task) lasts
b) Let’s check how many times it is repeated every day/month/year
c) Let’s verify how many times faster the robot can do the work (e.g. 4x)
d) Let’s sum up all the implementation costs:
- License – it’s easy to get the quote (and you can always ask me for the BluePrism, UiPath or Automation Anywhere)
- Installation (on-premise, maybe cloud)
- Development (usually from days to a couple of weeks per one process)
- Let’s check how much does the person conducting the task earn
Now, the magic relation, we check whether: (a*b) < ((a*b)/4) + d. If it’s true – let’s go for the robot. Easy, isn’t it?
Moreover – having the data above, we can easily calculate the ROI of every automated process. We can also prepare (and we do it for our clients) the whole roadmap for RPA – the list of processes with predictable, measured outcomes order by business value.
By the way, speaking about ROI – we automated a number of processes which provided the +70% ROI. What other technology can give you such value, for such a small amount of money?
As a matter of fact, I should say time to market. When I speak with clients I ask them to never, ever use the term “implementation” in the context of Robotic Process Automation. It’s unfair and misleading. I prefer to call the first stage just “installation”. Because it’s a matter of couple of days. The rest is fast, as well. Some processes can be automated within days, some within weeks. And it works and delivers the value from the first moment the bot is run.
I called the RPA probably almost the dumbest automation today because it’s not so sophisticated and advanced like AI. Robots in RPA don’t understand natural language, nor they think especially. They don’t have any cognitive services. Silly as it might sound, the robots work exactly as robots should. Focused, precise, without any doubts.
Many managers I speak with ask me what these robots can do and sometimes they are disappointed at the beginning. “Only that?”, says their face. But, as I stated in the post about business value in innovations – the technology must bring the real value and profit. So does it RPA.
So, where’s the trick?
Well, the point is – there isn’t any. RPA is like reinventing the Excel spreadsheet. It’s super simple on the surface, cheap and revolutionary at the same time. No wonder that RPA grows so rapidly. According to different estimations, the average CAGR growth of RPA technology until 2023 is 34%. And we’re talking here only about RPA itself, without AI, cognitive services or chatbots.
Should you try it? Definitely. RPA has no borders, no verticals nor any other real roadblocks. It works with all the languages, all applications. It comes with many flavors and once employees get the idea, they come back with their own thoughts where to put another robot.
If you’d like to know more about this topic, watch the presentation I gave during Think Warsaw conference. It’s in Polish but I hope you will understand.