Robotic automation promises to enhance enterprise workflow
Robotic automation is on the rise as organizations look to increase production efficiencies and decrease labor costs. Real-life robotics offer advantages that organizations can’t ignore in their quest to streamline processes, reduce errors and move humans away from low-value monotonous tasks.
Understandably, humans worry about losing their livelihoods to robotics — but it’s not as though R2-D2 is going to be asking for a job application any time soon. Gartner believes robotics and artificial intelligence will augment human tasks more than they will eliminate jobs, actually creating a net gain of 500,000 jobs1. Time will tell if that prediction holds, but many won’t deny the current growth of robotic automation in the enterprise.
Bots promise increased productivity
It’s not just manufacturing that’s driving the implementation of robotics in the workplace. Nor is robotic automation limited to traditional hardware robots with mechanical arms and sometimes wheels to move. Enterprises have started to embrace another form of robotics that’s not quite as obvious: Software robots, also known as bots, work behind the scenes to automate repetitive tasks. This is known as robotic process automation (RPA).
RPA bots interact with IT applications with far greater consistency than humans. The bots perform routine business processes by copying the way humans interact with applications through a user interface and following simple rules. They can also switch between many applications.
RPA offers several advantages. The cost of a software license for a bot is expected to be less than a human employee’s wages and benefits. With RPA, enterprises also enjoy a level of predictability, productivity and efficiency that humans are hard-pressed to duplicate.
Robotic automation supports human tasks
Several industries have already implemented RPA to replicate tasks that often lagged or have been prone to error because of their complex and repetitive nature. Banks use RPA to enter, scan, validate and prioritize financial data. Insurance agencies rely on RPA to handle the massive amount of data that can often slow claims processes. And the legal profession can stop worrying about lawyers and legal clerks missing critical information in mounds of discovery documents — RPA promises to streamline and accelerate the tedious and time-consuming process of review.
AI, another type of robotic automation, promises to go even further. Cognitive technologies use predictive capabilities to deduce solution options, make operational decisions and enhance not only individual tasks but also entire processes. Health care, finance, entertainment, sports and many other industries are tapping AI technology to process vast volumes of data to make fast, informed business decisions.
These and other industries point to the ability of robotics to free employees from mundane tasks so they can pursue other projects that require human creativity. If enterprises do, in fact, shift employees to lapsed or new tasks, then Gartner’s prediction about robotics augmenting and creating new jobs could bear fruit, allowing organizations to benefit from both robotic productivity and human ingenuity.