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How to really use robotics to improve operations
How do businesses save thousands of work hours a year while also reducing cost and improving customer experience? The answer is with Robotics. Although it sounds like something straight out of a science fiction film, Robotics Processing Automation (RPA) is becoming an increasingly effective way to save time and money, and to create a seamless customer experience.
Learnings from the Connectivity Matters Summit 2019
I led a session at the TalkTalk Business Connectivity Matters Summit which focused on robotics and automation. I was joined by Keri Smith from ISG, a leading global and technology research advisory firm. Keri leads ISG’s automation and RPA practice in EMEA, since 2011 he has been helping organisations get the most out of RPA, enabling them to maximise their ROI and ensure long-term success.
AI use in business is growing
We asked our audience of Partners at the Connectivity Matters Summit which AI technologies they have implemented in their business. 72% of the audience said that they had implemented robotic process automation in their business, while 56% were using chatbots. However, less than a quarter of the audience had implemented Cognitive reasoning, Optical character Recognition or Natural language Processing.
Automation is quick and cheap to implement, yet studies show that 50% of RPA projects fail. Is it the technology, internal obstacles or the way it has been implemented that causes such a high rate of failure? The most common pitfall that business fall into when implementing an RPA project is underestimating the effort required to build enterprise-grade automations that can effectively handle exceptions and be easily maintained.
What is RPA used for?
When RPA is deployed it scale, it can equate to saving 1000’s of hours of manual work. Because of this it works well for repetitive and predictable interactions with IT applications that are rule-based or involve a large amounts of digital data. In addition to saving time, RPA improves accuracy by eliminating human error which can occur when performing repetitive tasks. This frees up more time for operations departments to focus on innovation and improvements to the customer experience.
Our journey into RPA
Over the last three years, we have dipped our toes into the waters of RPA and achieved some strong successes, as well as our fair share of failures. We are now using robotics to manage operations volume and non-critical workloads and increasing real-time order and supplier updates.
We are delighted that all our automations have maintained a success rate of +90%. RPA has saved us over 40,000 work hours per year, and it is on track to break £1 million in savings
What did we learn?
Our success didn’t happen without learning some valuable lessons along the way:
- Don’t take on large automation objectives as a single delivery - Instead, use a modular release approach.
- It’s not just about strategic implementations - Tactical fixes can be of great business benefit, and licences can be re-purposed afterwards.
- Robots like volume, but they don’t like change - Avoid areas which change frequently.
- Beware hunting the ‘robotics unicorn’ - Business case benefits should be validated by your Automation Function.
Don’t be afraid of using RPA, because it could save your business a significant amount of time and money. Before jumping in, make sure you have a business problem worth solving with RPA and focus on understanding what pre-built solutions AI platforms can offer that match your priority business problems.