This essay is a literature review of the article “Robotic Process Automation Gains Momentum” by Jessica Davis, available on Information Week.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is gaining momentum as more businesses and companies are leaping into digital transformation.
Indeed, RPA is speedily growing at a rate of 57% year over year, and the global spending on RPA software has reached $680 million in 2018 and will reach $2.4 billion in 2022. Four million robots are estimated to work in businesses by 2021, doing office, administrative and sales work; which will shrink error-margins and improve data quality. Furthermore, RPA’s popularity is increasing because of three main components;
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Firstly, RPA can replace 5 or 10 human workers and therefore increase the ROI. Secondly, RPA focuses on performing boring and repetitive tasks, which enables human workers to focus on more productive and revenue-generating tasks. Thirdly, RPA is more accurate than human workers and runs at a higher throughput.
The digital transformation imperative is a big driver of the RPA implementation as businesses and companies need to digitally transform in order to compete and differentiate themselves. They can greatly benefit from RPA thanks to its advantages which could be even more powerful if machine learning is applied to the RPA processes.
I believe that RPA is great to improve ROI; however, the article does not mention the initial investment costs. Implementing RPA is financially draining although the returns could be substantial. For a company to implement RPA, the company’s cash flow needs to be sustainable over time to afford the integration of such technology while resuming all other operations. Indeed, numerous companies invest in artificial intelligence tools, such as RPA, and find themselves in debt before even realizing any ROI. Therefore, major capital and the company’s stability are detrimental to a successful RPA implementation.
Also, while RPA will replace the human workforce to increase productivity and ROI, the human workers will lose their jobs, and the company will have to hire more skilled workers to supervise the RPA processes. Nonetheless, the skilled workforce will cost more than keeping the original human workforce. If the ROI is substantial, hiring a more expensive workforce might not be problematic; however, if the returns are marginal, then RPA is not the solution. I believe that RPA implementation must be studied in detail and tailored to the business or company to make sure that the latter will benefit from it.