In 2018, Gartner reported that Australia’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA) industry had registered ~2x growth over the previous year, seeing a 48 per cent rise in total revenues. There have been numerous success stories with pioneers reporting massive gains in a short timeframe. In an RPA implementation program at Synergy Australia, the company deployed 280+ bots that helped to reduce the billing transaction time by 40% and significantly reduced error rates by 99%. The top 10 companies who’ve implemented RPA are growing at a phenomenal rate of 30 per cent CAGR. Call it intelligent automation, digital workers, or integrated automation – the reality is that the Bots are here to stay. In the last year, RPA has become faster to deploy, and more intelligent with AI Bots integrated in some platforms. No wonder everyone is doing it, and for good reason. The question is – are they doing it right?
In this article, we try to bust three major myths that are holding back Australian businesses from realizing the true value of RPA:
Myth #1: RPA is only for large enterprises
One of the perceptions around RPA projects is that they cost a lot and would not fit the budgets of small and mid sized companies. That’s not true and businesses really don’t need big pockets to start on their RPA journey. In fact, one of the BOTS that we deployed for a small medium enterprise, costs them less than $20K/ year, and delivers work that was originally done by 1.5 full time employees. RPA has the potential to give businesses of all sizes a competitive edge.
In fact it’s the smaller business that stand to gain the most from automation. RPA can reduce the costs and efforts needed to scale and deliver on digital customer expectations. By reducing the operational burden from people, RPA can help small business resources focus more on strategically important areas like customer relationships and innovation.
Myth #2: Cost savings are the holy grail of RPA projects
One of the biggest mistakes businesses still make is to base their RPA decisions on cost savings alone. While, cost saving is a key benefit of RPA, it’s not the only parameter to evaluate project viability. An Australian bank learnt it the hard way. An unstructured approach to automation led to technical glitches and compliance violations costing them millions of dollars in fines.
When it comes to taking RPA related decisions, it’s imperative to look at the entire value chain before even beginning to decide what and how to automate. Business decision makers need to look beyond cost and think of RPA’s contribution to operational efficiency, productivity, customer experience, quality, accuracy, compliance, and insights.
Myth #3: Implementing RPA in-house will save money
While the larger automation market and RPA in particular has flourished in Australia, the skills and capabilities to manage projects are not yet mature. Many businesses that have taken up RPA projects in-house have realized it. In-house projects are often approved due to a misconception that outsourcing RPA projects will be expensive and more often than not this thought process leads to failure. Only about 10% of businesses have successfully implemented RPA in-house.
There are several factors at play here; firstly, the lack of mature skillset within an organization. Just because an organization have a few people experienced in a technology does not mean they can do the entire implementation in-house. An experienced partner brings in industry and domain experience and best practices that can go a long way in ensuring the right approach. Secondly and more importantly, you get to tap into their overall skillset and broader resource pool. While doing it yourself, the lack of this experience means that the business could potentially pick up unsuitable processes for automation. Processes that are very dynamic or require a human touch may not be ripe for automation. Applying a cost lens to these processes could result in failure and reduced ROI. And finally, in-house development requires investment in technologies that are rapidly evolving. This means an upgrade every 12 months or so. Engaging a vendor helps avoid this technology lock-in and also reduces risks.
RPA projects are doable in-house. But making that decision should not be solely a factor of cost. The end outcome of a badly executed in-house project could turn out to be vastly more expensive than engaging an RPA partner or SI.
There are substantial benefits of RPA that make it a game changer in today’s world and critical for Australian businesses to invest in it. A successful RPA implementation can show up to 5x improvements in as less as three months with 100% accuracy to boot. The key to successful RPA transformation is setting the right expectations, getting the leadership buy-in, and getting the right partner on board to guide this journey.
To showcase live examples of the above narrative and to experience live coding of Bots, we have recently opened our first automation lab in Melbourne. To know more about the lab and our capabilities write to me at email@example.com