Technology is a fluid concept. It moves, changes, evolves, and grows. And one of the more interesting developments in the technology of the business world is robotic process automation (RPA) and its impact on how companies conduct their back office and operational functions. Through the use of this technology, many industries have been able to turn existing processes often hampered by the manual input of information and data into a streamlined, digital platform. The automation of repetitive, time-intensive activities provides substantial benefits to companies in terms of productivity, efficiency, and innovation.
While often associated with the IT or technology industries, the benefits RPA can provide in terms of automating many back-office processes extends far beyond these more conventional applications into a wealth of varied industries - in fact, a company, regardless of industry, with any back office operations is a prime candidate for RPA implementation.
But what exactly are some of the burgeoning industries in today’s global, interconnected economy that is being impacted by RPA? What does automation mean for these sectors? We’ll consider four industries — insurance, financial services, legal, and business process outsourcing — where RPA is already fostering success and enabling companies within these industries to experience long-term, sustainable growth.
Whether you’re a health insurance company or a car insurance provider, you deal with claims processing, policy administration and servicing, pricing, and underwriting on a regular basis. These tasks are time consuming, high volume, and repetitive and prevent employees from engaging in more complex tasks like developing client relationships. A common obstacle faced by insurers is how to increase growth yet reduce cost and optimize business processes at the same time.
In their report “A holistic approach to insurance automation,” Accenture suggests that “In areas like these, successful [RPA] programmes can free up between 20 and 30 percent of capacity at an enterprise level whilst also minimising operational risk and improving the customer experience...For insurers across personal and commercial lines, RPA pilots have demonstrated material benefits, including a 40-80 percent reduction in processing times, along with improvements in quality rates, auditability and operational risk management.”
The value-added services of RPA perfectly enable insurers to achieve long-term growth through reduced processing times, which allow providers to take on more clients and provide them with superior levels of customer engagement. Further, RPA can also immediately adapt to changes in demand by increasing or decreasing the numbers of active software robots. This makes scalability easily feasible day-to-day to meet the growing demands that come with permanent growth.
The finance sector must manage significant numbers of transactions and volumes of data often with legacy systems that do not provide the necessary operational efficiency and reliability. This industry is also one where auditability, security, and accuracy are crucial in order to comply with regulations. RPA is transforming the way various financial service institutions, including banks, insurers, and capitals markets, are able to meet these demands and drive successful business outcomes.
Steve Culp, the global leader or Accenture’s Finance and Risk Services, suggests that “Robotics has many applications in the financial services industry, where the combination of high transaction volumes and increased regulation places a premium on an organization’s ability to streamline operations and ensure appropriate levels of control.”
With RPA implementation, financial service providers are able to streamline transaction-laden activities including transfers and deposits, account reconciliation, audit support, fraud detection, credit card processing, client onboarding, and mortgage approval. By automating these various tasks, RPA provides the speed and efficiency necessary to meet growing customer demands and adapt to new compliance rules.
The legal industry is highly dependent on record keeping and documentation - some of which, surprisingly so, is still done via paper, which means these files must be organized, searched, and analyzed manually. Because these manual interventions are both time-consuming and labor-intensive tasks, the legal sector is one where RPA has the potential to make a significant and transformative contribution.
In order to expedite the process and not be reliant on employees to digitize these records manually, RPA software robots are able to process scanned stacks of paperwork and digitize client information. Using optical character recognition technology, they can automate this transfer of data between the scanned files to the new system. The robots can then even be used to locate missing information within these files, a process that would be much more laborious if done manually.
It’s important to note that while RPA is able to save significant amounts of time and effort for employees in the long run, it does require more effort to implement initially since all paper documents must be digitized first. While this is, of course, a great undertaking, it is one that will provide enormous gains as RPA will allow law firms to much more effectively address client concerns.
Business process outsourcing
In the outsourcing market, business process outsourcing (BPO) providers aim to maintain low costs and transactions times and simultaneously provide the most productive services to their clients. The speed and reliability of the services provided by RPA is something that cannot be matched by human employees. Software robots work 24/7/365, are incredibly precise, and provide detailed analytics on their actions. As such, RPA becoming more popular and necessary within the BPO industry.
According to an article by Sourcing Focus, RPA is essential for the future of sucessful BPO providers: “Already, BPOs are seeing results through RPA implementation – experiencing better customer service and quality, dramatic process improvements, cost savings, and redeployment of resources to more strategic, revenue generating functions. As RPA becomes increasingly accepted as a better way to do work, BPOs will find that it is no longer a competitive advantage, but a must in order to stay relevant.”
For BPOs, RPA will continue allow BPOs to provide more accurate services to clients more quickly and at a lower cost for themselves. This will not only promote better client relationships, but ensure future growth and development.
Rather than being restricted to a certain function or industry, RPA is defined by the types of processes it is able to automate. They should be repetitive, rules-based, and standardized, but are otherwise not limited.
While we’ve only mentioned four here, RPA has the capacity to influence other sectors. Organizations within manufacturing, food and beverage, media and broadcasting, telecom, and utilities are already taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the technology. And the widespread adoption is only expected to proliferate. Regardless of where it’s implemented, RPA is providing organizations with the ability to handle more tasks in an increasingly time-efficient and productive manner, guaranteeing long-term success and opportunities for growth.
Nick Ostdick is a Digital Content Strategist.