Take a good look at virtually any major industry across the globe and you’ll notice one common denominator: an emphasis on digital transformation. The trend to digitalization and the implementation of all-digital platforms is now the name of the game when it comes to streamlining and refining business activities, and it allows organizations to dramatically transform their operating models to improve the customer experience, increase successful business outcomes, and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
But what exactly is digital transformation? According to Capgemini Consulting, digital transformation can be defined as “the use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of enterprises...Executives in all industries are using digital advances...to change customer relationships, internal processes, and value propositions. Other executives, seeing how fast digital technology disrupted media industries in the past decade, know they need to pay attention to changes in their industries now.”
As a burgeoning technology capable of improving business outcomes, robotic process automation (RPA) has the capacity to support digital transformation. For this reason, many businesses are looking for ways in which they can bring this kind of change to their business functions, especially in order to respond to pressures from customers and competitors to provide the most current services. This entry will examine a handful of ways in which RPA supports digital transformation, what this means for the future, and how individuals within the company are needed to incorporate and deploy such digital projects.
Digital Transformation and RPA
In order to understand the potential impacts of digital transformation, let’s consider the role of RPA in the process. Across various industries such as finance, insurance, legal, manufacturing, and utilities, RPA is being used to automate burdensome, high volume, and time consuming back office activities. These can include, but are in no way limited to, tasks such as order and claims processing, HR, data transfer and migration, and invoicing. Thus, RPA is reshaping the ways these organizations are able to operate and their level of responsiveness at nearly all touch points of the value chain.
Yet how does all of this support digital transformation? RPA is one of the technologies that is best able to help evolve digital transformation for companies across all industries and for all functions. Through its automation capabilities, RPA allows organizations to tackle operational challenges, such as executing these large amounts of back office activities. Furthermore, with the Big Data analytical capacities provided by RPA, companies can gain knowledge about their business patterns and the performance of their workflows. Companies can then leverage this information to adopt digital strategies which help adapt their processes to be more efficient.
In addition, not only does RPA support digital transformation, it makes achieving this transformation quick and straightforward. RPA software robots are taught to mimic the actions of employees, ranging from simple clicks and copy-paste tasks to more complex workflows and activities like invoicing. By completing tasks in the same manner that a human employee would, RPA is able to work with legacy systems, ERP, and external systems without the need to restructure or reengineer existing platforms, allowing implementation to occur within a matter of days or weeks.
By removing the burden of the back office, employees are instead able to emphasize higher value tasks such as sales, marketing, and customer engagement. Bringing the focus to the front office improves customer experience, and more satisfied customers mean higher customer retention. In these ways, RPA can help to bring about improved business performance and outcomes — in other words, digital transformation.
Support from Company Individuals
While the role of RPA in supporting digital transformation is obvious, it’s also important to note that people are just as important as the technology in order to bring about these improvements. RPA is not capable about instigating these developments alone; rather, it’s dependent on individuals within organizations and industries to make it happen.
In their publication entitled Strategy, not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation, Deloitte suggests that “The ability to digitally reimagine the business is determined in large part by a clear digital strategy supported by leaders who foster a culture able to change and invent the new...What separate digital leaders from the rest is a clear digital strategy combined with a culture and leadership posed to drive the transformation.”
In order to really drive the digital transformation of which RPA is capable of supporting, the coordination of a project team and company management — as well as all involved employees — is a key driver in success. This leadership and consensus within an organization is an essential component of implementing new technology and fostering progress in any business in any industry, and this is also the case with RPAs place in fostering digital transformation.
Outcomes of Digital Transformation
With the support of company leaders and employees, digital transformation made possible by RPA is already becoming pervasive across various functions and industries worldwide. In an executive publication from their Institute for Business Value, IBM suggests that this transformation allows companies to focus on two dimensions, specifically “reshaping customer value propositions and transforming operating models using digital technologies for greater customer interactions and collaboration.”
Whether it’s a case of an insurance company inundated with claims processing, a law firm still dependent on paper records, or a bank struggling to manage high transaction volumes, RPA is able to alleviate these challenges and to support digital transformation along the way. Not only is the transformation created by RPA gives organizations the ability to focus on their own operations, it’s also allowing them to improve offerings and services to customers.
The efficiency, compatibility, and adaptability provided by RPA is allowing the emphasis to be moved from menial back office tasks to those that involve creating business value and customer engagement, those that allow for further transformation and improvement of business processes. In these many ways, RPA proves itself to be an avenue through which digital transformation can be achieved in any industry.