“Alfred handles more than 20,000 invoices a year – equivalent to one full-time employee,” said Jørgen Nesmoen, a project participant at Malling & Co. “At the same time, we identified several processes that have a savings potential of several thousand hours by using Robotic Process Automation (RPA).”
The fourth industrial revolution is here
The use of the word ‘robot’ in this context refers to the development of a program that mimics work tasks normally performed by a person on a computer. Virtual workforces will affect six out of ten jobs, and will automate almost half the work of most wage earners. This is why robotisation is called the "fourth Industrial Revolution”, and the boss will definitely be no exception. Around 20% of his/her tasks will be automated via RPA, according to McKinsey.
“High demands are placed on modern organisations to maintain profitability, competitiveness and satisfied employees,” says Ole Kristian Haug, Senior Manager at Knowit Insight. “Owners expect increased efficiency and better utilisation of resources, managers strive to achieve solutions that are flexible and scalable, and regulatory bodies are imposing ever higher expectations and demands regarding traceability and quality.
“Here, we also want our employees to work to a greater extent on problem-solving and value-creating tasks rather than rule-based routine work,” explains Nesmoen at Malling & Co.
Malling & Co is Norway’s oldest and largest advisor in the field of commercial real estate – a complete real estate agency that assists its clients throughout the life cycle of their property. “Our most important task is simply to enable our clients to achieve the full potential of their commercial properties. This can cover everything from ensuring smooth operations for tenants to getting the most from a rental or sales process. We have 200 employees and achieved a turnover of almost NOK 400 million in 2018.”
Three out of four businesses need to automate to survive
According to a two-year-old global survey of 1,850 businesses, ServiceNow concludes that three out of four companies need to automate processes by 2020 in order to survive.
“Many rule-based, repetitive business processes are currently handled by employees, who need to compensate for incomplete IT systems and a lack of integration between these systems. This means that a lot of valuable time that could have been devoted to solving more complicated problems is spent carrying out work tasks that could be performed by software. People also get tired quickly, and we know that even the very best can make mistakes – mistakes that could potentially have serious consequences for your business,” says Haug.
Digital workforces will take over a large proportion of manual business processes
A digital workforce led by RPA will be able to take over and automate a large proportion of today’s manual business processes. “But you can relax: most of us will not be replaced by a digital robot. We just have to get used to the idea of sharing our job with one. This applies both to those on low incomes and those on high incomes. For example, financial planners in pin-stripe suits, doctors, engine drivers, taxi drivers and journalists,” explains Ole Haug.
“Within our business, the robot Alfred now performs manual, repetitive and rule-based processes, faster, more accurately and more reliably than a person. The technology therefore represents an opportunity for us to free up human resources and increase capacity, eliminate errors and improve quality,” says Nesmoen. “At the same time, we have identified several processes that have a savings potential of several thousand hours by using RPA. In this way, we are able to achieve cost savings without making changes to current IT systems and processes.”
Both threats and opportunities
Robotisation is creating both threats and opportunities, and managers who don’tput themselves in the driver’s seat will realise that it’s just a question of time before someone overtakes them and challenges their market position.
If you can acknowledge these three factors, then much has been accomplished:
- Robotisation concerns us and everything we do.
It is not necessarily obvious to everyone around you. Through external analyses, there are significant opportunities for robotisation, of which the majority can be realised in a very short time frame.
- Robotisation is an open window of opportunity.
Ordinary meetings must occasionally be replaced by hypothesis-driven and explorative approaches. Involve your customers properly to succeed with the development of products and services with short lead times in order to reach the market in time.
- Robotisation requires a change of attitude.
Robotisation creates new types of workplaces, such as when robots made it possible for Ekornes to retain local industry production instead of re-locating to a low-cost country. Nonetheless, the remaining workplaces will be fewer and will also require a different skills profile.
What is “Robotic Process Automation”?
- The use of technology that makes it possible to configure software or a “robot” to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering reactions and communicating with other digital systems
- A non-physical “robot”
- Software tool
- A tool that can replace human manpower at “keyboard” level and perform routine tasks reliably
- Can perform “if, then” logic
What RPA isn't
- Not yet a new software investment
- Not Artificial Intelligence
- Not NLP (natural language processing)
- Not an analysis tool
- Not a tool for making people unemployed
- Not software built into a physical robot
- Not a chatbot or a virtual personal assistant
But, you can integrate all this in connection with RPA.