RPA investments could go down the drain without organization

A coherent plan for deployment is crucial for RPA success, and the whole business needs to know it.
25 February 2020

RPA can transform business operations, with the right approach. Source: Shutterstock

Taking on many of the laborious, repetitive tasks from day-to-day business operations such as data entry, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software frees staff up for more intellectually or creatively-stimulating tasks. 

Rather than copying and pasting data into a spreadsheet, for example, workers can focus on crafting the right messaging to engage with their customers. In fact, with the RPA market on a rapid rise, set to net US$12 billion by 2023, up from US$5 billion in 2019, 79 percent of organizations have reported an increase not just in terms of efficiency, but in customer engagement as well.

While RPA investment continues to pour in and adopters reap its value, deploying the technology is not as straightforward as buying the software, setting it up, and letting it tick over.

There are no shortage of challenges when it comes to RPA, and that’s exactly what is spotlighted in the new Forrester report, Barriers and Best Practices for Scaling RPA

Though the research showed that the adoption of RPA is paying off in the long run, maintenance and control issues are burning a hole in the pockets of organizations running it. Even those that are making headway are having to overcome a lot of hurdles — close to half (45 percent) of organizations suffer from poor customer support and engagement due to bot breakage on a weekly basis, or more regularly. 

These breakdowns cost business in terms of both staff resource — as workers most revert back to the manual operations the businesses sought to automate — and financially, as business operations lose efficiency. 

Part of the problem is that RPA is being deployed in isolation. A lack of a unified approach means integration challenges will follow. But it also means not everyone is clued up on how and where the technology is being used, and the cost it’s racking up. 

Just one in five organizations was found to have a centralized automation center of excellence (CoE) which will generally oversee the implementation of RPA, its budget, and liaise with the right people in the business to ensure it’s working. 

For firms without CoE, costs are not measured accurately and the real transformative value the technology promises becomes harder to see. This is the reality for more than two-thirds of organizations, in which the cost is still a significant hurdle that they have to cross when integrating RPA seamlessly in organizational operations. 

In an earlier interview with TechHQ, Globant’s VP of Technology for Artificial Intelligence and Process Automation Studios, Agustin Huerta, emphasized the importance of closing the gap between wider organizations and their RPA initiatives. 

“[The Center of Excellence] needs to live in a very good balance between IT departments within the organization and the process owner or the business areas.”

“IT are key to making this infrastructure available and working.

“And on the side of the process owners, you will need them to first buy in the technology; they need to be confident that the technology will provide the benefits they are expecting.”

Ultimately, RPA does carry the potential to transform business operations. It doesn’t necessarily require a massive budget, but it does require organization and a unified approach by the business — efficiencies won’t be fully realized and scaled otherwise.

The upshot? RPA is no fad — but some of that time freed up for more valuable tasks, can certainly be assigned to ensuring the technology is deployed thoroughly, coherently, and that everyone knows how and where it’s being used, why, and how it will benefit the organization. 

If not, much of the investment aimed at boosting efficiency could have the opposite effect, which is money down the drain.