Championing automation in the new normal

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way organisations approach and engage with automation solutions in a number of ways. The pandemic had created a significant amount of stress on many companies and in the short term at least, they turned to automation out of a need for survival.

Chris Loo, Managing Director, Southeast Asia of UiPath tells BusinessToday that most firms adopted  Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate processes that helped them to adapt to the immediate environment. For example, many call centers have implemented RPA and AI to handle basic support requests so humans can keep up with high call volumes.

RPA is software that aids in automating mundane rule-based processes and high-volume activities, 24-hours a day, seven days a week and with a 100 percent accuracy level. Loo highlights that the technology enables cost reduction by automating repetitive processes previously done by large numbers of staff, while allowing the same employees to conduct higher value work, potentially increasing revenue.

“There is no one particular industry or location that RPA is catered to as it helps organisations across all industries drive a seamless and convenient consumer-oriented experience across various touchpoints,” he adds, for instance, that in the travel and airline industry, automation and digital tools have made it easier for agencies to handle surges in cancellation and change requests.

In the financial services industry, many large banks around the world still use outdated and highly inefficient IT systems that are almost impossible to overhaul or upgrade as they cost millions of dollars. In these scenarios, RPA can be used to integrate across different IT systems, automating high volume and repetitive tasks that traditionally needed to be done across the different systems by human employees.

Loo points out that in call centres, UiPath’s robots can retrieve all necessary customer and product documents within seconds, allowing employees to concentrate on customers and give a well-informed and quick response.

This will further reduce handling time by 40 percent and when merged with AI, RPA is able to predict customer behavior, deliver personalised service, minimise call wait time and support agents with in-depth knowledge.

Championing automation initiatives in the new normal

“UiPath is seeking to provide “A Robot for Every Person”, we want to take the robot out of the human and allow employees to work better and smarter with the aid of a robot assistant who can take on the boring and repetitive jobs.”

The company has recently launched their 20.10 product update which adds features that makes it easier for employees to use automation in their daily work, as well as create their own automations. “We aim to lead our customers’ transformation on their journey to become a fully-automated enterprise, on that optimises the use of automation of its greatest potential, propelled by a Centre-of-Excellence as the hub for automation orchestration,” Loo says.

Citizen Developers

“This is an exciting space and the ability for citizen developers and even employees with limited coding experience to build their own automation apps will change the way employees perceive and embrace automation,” Loo tells BusinessToday.

For citizen developers, improved StudioX integrations with GSuite and Microsoft PowerPoint, as well as recorder enhancements, make it easier for tech-savvy employees to design robots that help them with their everyday work, including manipulating data or working with documents.

The UiPath Apps on the other hand is a web-based, drag and drop business application studio that enables citizen developers to build and deploy enterprise grade applications that deliver automation solutions.

“Thanks to the low-code applications, the automation solutions are conceptualised, designed and ultimately built by the users themselves and so have much more relevance to their everyday working lives,” he says.

The application is designed to be user-friendly, with drag-and-drop functionality that allows users to build their own automations that can be accessed from multiple platforms.

Misconception and Long-Term Benefits

“The most common misconception that we find is that employees believe that automation technologies will create more efficiencies and cost savings at the expense of their own jobs. In our experience, not only is this not the case, but automation technologies actually result in more and better quality jobs being created,” the Managing Director tells BusinessToday.

“RPA is a human augmenter, not a replacement. It automates tasks that humans are simply not designed to do – repetitive, rules-based activities, allowing us to be more creative, innovative and provide higher-value services. he says.

Another misconception is the belief that that automation solutions should come from the top-down, as in leadership are the ones who should dictate what can and cannot be automated. While this may traditionally be true, the technology has evolved to the extent that low-code applications are making automation solutions much more accessible to end users and citizen developers.

There are also significant long-term benefits of RPA that go beyond purely cost and efficiency savings. “RPA allows organisations to automate at a fraction of the cost and time it takes other IT solutions, the technology is non-intrusive and leverages existing IT infrastructure without causing disruption to underlying systems that would be difficult and costly to replace,” Loo says.

“We are also seeing automation being put increasingly into the hands of the employee. I mentioned earlier that UiPath have recently released the UiPath 20.10 Long-term Support (LTS) Release. This adds low-code capabilities to the UiPath platform, allowing organisations to reduce the strain on IT, automate more processes and deliver rich user experiences for both employees and customers regardless of the complexity of the underlying applications.”

“As we emerge from the crisis, firms will look to automation as a way to mitigate the risks that future crises pose to the supply and productivity of human workers. By investing in automation technologies, businesses ensure that their core operations are supported even if employees are unable to work at full capacity, fostering greater resiliency by lowering dependencies on many processes ad paperwork,” Loo concludes.

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