RPA: A Collaborative Technology for Business Recovery in the New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of emerging technologies. When the world retreated to the cloud during the lockdown, the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) ensured the world remained connected. Similarly, production lines witnessed a shift to 3D-printing technologies to assist in the manufacturing of essential goods needed to fight the virus. Many governments also relied on autonomous drones to deliver COVID-19 kits to areas where they were needed. These technologies helped the world during the lockdowns occasioned by the pandemic.

In a couple of months, hopefully, the world will travel through the recovery phase. Collaboration between humans and machines will be vital to navigate this phase and deliver value to customers. Robotic Process Automation(RPA) technology presents companies with a platform to establish this collaboration. RPA makes use of robots known as digital workers to handle somewhat repetitive operations, hence allowing humans to focus on more customer-centric activities such as content development and customer engagement. For example, as an insurance company COO in the post-COVID-19 era, which scenario would you prefer your accounts officer to spend company time on: a) processing thousands of claims resolution mail or b) engaging thousands of clients on post-COVID-19 recovery insurance packages?

There will most likely be an increase in the volume of service requests after the pandemic. With assistance from digital workers, staff would not need to work overtime to meet the demand. Organisations can leverage RPA technology to reduce the stress on operations staff, which will lead to a happier and more productive workforce. Digital workers will guarantee that organisations can operate 24/7 and provide accuracy and speed that humans cannot compete with. This will be vital to organisations in a fast-moving post-COVID world.

A case study from Automation Anywhere — a vendor that makes RPA software — showed how an airline used RPA to handle a complicated process to reduce cash outflow due to flight cancellations amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. The airline staff could not keep up with this complicated process which involved the option of converting tickets to e-vouchers, instead of cancellations and refunds. With the introduction of RPA, the number of customer requests processed daily rose to 4000, which represented a 700% increase. This subsequently improved the customer experience, brand reputation and cash flow significantly.

RPA is a non-intrusive technology. Implementing RPA in an organisation does not disrupt the existing technological landscape; rather, it utilises the landscape. The RPA journey involves the identification of a candidate process, optimising the process and automating the process using RPA so that digital workers can handle the process. With the right partners, the deployment, transitioning and benefit realisation from RPA projects can be done in record time. pcl.’s digital technology team can help your organisation to identify quick wins and build, implement and manage your RPA aspirations.

The world is adopting emerging technologies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this trend will increase the acceptance and adoption of more of these technologies. The post-COVID-19 era will usher in a world of changes in customer behaviours and increased requests for services. Navigating this new world will involve collaboration between man and machine to deliver value to customers. RPA is one technology that organisations can leverage to stay ahead of the curve, especially in the COVID-19 recovery phase.

Phillips Consulting Limited (pcl.) is a leading business and management consulting firm serving clients across Africa. www.phillipsconsulting.net/