Tireless software robot revolutionizes knowledge work

Net 1/2016,  2016-05-18

RPA (Robotic Process Automation) offers the tools and methods for speedy, effortless and cost-efficient digitalization. Fujitsu and Eera together conducted a survey to map out the applicability of RPA in the operations of different customers.

Tireless software robot revolutionizes knowledge workRPA still raises a lot of doubts and even fear in people, even though it is an excellent and modern way to improve operational quality and productivity.

”With a virtual robot participating in the work of a department or team, it automatically executes certain manual routines within a process or between processes. A software robot does what a human would have done. As an IT project it is light, as application interfaces and code need no work whatsoever,” says CTO Glen Koskela of Fujitsu Nordic.

Many little routine tasks that take up a lot of time when executed manually are perfect for a virtual robot. Such tasks can be found in any industry and include some HR administration processes, such as recording the information of new employees, and various form handling processes. Typically these tasks are structured, rule-based, repeatable tasks such as searching, collating or updating information in various systems.

Fujitsu looked into potential application areas for RPA in Finland

Fujitsu and Eera together conducted a preliminary RPA survey, mapping out the potential application areas for software robotics with Fujitsu accounts.

Fujitsu’s survey looked into the general possibilities of software robotics in automating some of the routine business tasks in different industries. For the study, Eera interviewed sales reps at Fujitsu offices in Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

”We wanted to find out where RPA could be applied, what its impact would be and what benefits it would bring. Also, we mapped out what sort of understanding and values the adoption of robotics would require, and what level of maturity from the business,” says Esa Aho, Head of Offerings & Presales, Fujitsu Nordic.

According to the survey, while Fujitsu customers are interested in RPA, they are still not clear on what it specifically contains or means. Software robotics is easily mixed with mechanical robots used by the manufacturing industry, for example. However, all the respondents considered that this is something that is of interest to customers and that is increasingly important in terms of future. Moreover, it was seen to be closely linked with other themes customers are currently facing, such as productivity and digitalization.

”RPA is an important part of digitalization. It is a shame that only IoT is being widely discussed as the customers have a wider interest in the subject matter. They want to know more about digitalization and the various digital solutions. RPA is an equally important area as IoT,” said one of the respondents. 

The revolutionizer of working life

RPA is seen as a potential solution amidst the pressure to get IT infrastructure and applications harmonized and integrated. In automating business processes the RPA method is superior compared to the traditional IT project. The savings it brings in terms of time, money and effort are significant.

”In connection with organizational mergers we tend to come across with arrays of IT systems that are managing overlapping tasks. Could we integrate them smartly using software robotics? Over the upcoming years we will see mergers like these take place in huge numbers in public administration alone,” reckons an interviewee. 

As for Fujitsu service offering, RPA was found as a viable method in the modernization of outdated legacy applications, for example. Deploying it was also discussed in Hybrid IT, Smart Working, Lean and SAP consulting projects.

No more human errors

Information society is well on its way to become an automation society. The automation of knowledge work will revolutionize the future of working life. It is estimated that approximately a third of the effort could soon be replaced by a virtual robots in Finland. On the other hand, software robotics may help keep knowledge work in Finland instead of it being offshored to low-cost countries. 

Software robotics will automate human labor by emulating human execution of repetitive processes with existing software applications. A small piece of software will serve as the ”virtual robot”, using the application function similarly as a human would. A virtual robot can be trained in weeks to perform a variety of functions and processes. What is once taught to a robot in one process can be re-used in other processes through an object library.

Robots are provisioned, governed and supported by IT, but trained by business users. Business process automation using RPA methodology requires a fraction of the time, money, and effort compared to traditional IT project.

It is little wonder why the interest in RPA is clearly on the rise when it is easily applicable in the processes of many a company. This means a growing market for robotics developers and system integrators.

Owing to RPA, operational quality will improve by removing the possibility of human operator errors. Also, the functionality and lifecycle of the existing applications will be extended while software robotics will offer application developers endless possibilities to system design and integration. 

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Benefits of RPA

  • The need for human resources decreases significantly
  • Frees personnel from routine tasks to customer service or other more productive work
  • Improved efficiency. A virtual robot works 24/7
  • Extended system lifecycles. Requires only minor adjustments or modernization
  • Improved quality in data processing and processes
  • Eliminates the risk for human operator errors
  • Brings high-quality analytics to customers, partners and personnel
  • Increased seasonal flexibility
  • New business opportunities in previously unviable areas
  • Improved customer satisfaction through flawlessness and efficiency
  • Allows metrics in different processes to monitor the transaction volumes and lead times

More Information

Published in the Net Magazine 1/2016,  2016-05-18

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