The potential long-term gains of Intelligent Automation are nothing less than spectacular. This technology is already helping companies from across a range of industries make their processes more efficient. Over the coming years, it will help eliminate countless routine tasks, while creating new jobs that are more stimulating as well as better paid than those that will inevitably be replaced.
Intelligent automation has two main components, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). RPA is the automation of repetitive tasks, while AI adds the ability to recognise patterns in a workflow, such as image or speech recognition.
The impact on the economy is already substantial. In the media, manufacturing and finance industries, nearly 90% of companies have adopted some form of Intelligent Automation.
In the short term, the technology can be seen as a threat to existing jobs and work practices. As new jobs are created, others are lost. The new jobs will outnumber those that are lost, but this still presents challenges to individuals and organisations.
Some try to cope by burying their head in the sand. According to a report by Futurum Research, nearly 40% of businesses are not interested in RPA or AI. Such organisations usually have an internal culture that is averse to change, where new ideas are resisted.
But while the challenges are substantial, so is the potential upside.
Reduced operating cost and improved productivity are the most tangible benefits of RPA. The reduction in administrative work will free up staff to participate in other activities, such as customer-facing activities, potentially increasing customer satisfaction.
Meanwhile, RPA eliminates human error from processes. With the involvement of AI, systems can make decisions that are rapid, accurate and fair, for instance in the case of borrowing applications. The efficient handling results in many more happy customers.
The applications are programmed to follow any rules relating to compliance and security, eliminating human error in these potentially complex areas. Data is collected swiftly, accurately and frequently, in volumes that a human operator would never be able to keep up with. The data is used by the system to further improve decision making.
Early adopters of this technology will be able to do business without much of the overheads used traditionally by companies, enabling truly disruptive business models.
One successful Robotic Process Automation use case is the finance operations team of a major UK insurance company. The workers were spending vast amounts of time processing invoices. An RPA solution was implemented by NTT DATA, whereby the system automatically finds new invoice-related emails, validates the sender, currency, PO and account details, before submitting the completed forms for payment processing. The robotic process automation has increased invoice data accuracy and quality, improved the invoice processing audit trail and saved substantial time and costs within the department. The process can easily be scaled up to support growing demand.
When an Intelligent Automation project is implemented, first of all existing processes are mapped. Then, automation solutions are designed to do the same work. The design is flexible, enabling the automation to be changed in the future, in case business practices or routines should change. This way, a scaleable, sustainable solution is achieved that provides long-term value.
NTT DATA will partner with clients across their full journey – strategy, design, build, run and support. The approach is collaborative, ensuring that we deliver against your business objectives.
Over the coming years, Intelligent Automation will provide enormous benefits to organisations in all sectors. The benefits to the organisations, and to the economy as a whole, will be far-reaching. We have only seen the beginning.