The business benefits of robotic process automation include digitization, cost reduction, increased productivity. RPA is also simple to use.
The conversation around automation often focuses on loss – the loss of people’s tasks, people’s jobs, and ultimately people’s purpose. But there are so many ways automation can help people make gains.
With automation technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA), employees worldwide gain new purpose even as their companies gain greater efficiency. Nowhere is the potential of these gains more exciting than in RPA finance use cases:
- Do more with the same number of employees
- Expand the customer base and add new services
- Reduce operational costs
- Better regulatory compliance
- Free employees to focus on higher value work
RPA finance use cases and benefits
To find out more the impact of automation in the finance industry, I spoke with two RPA experts: Danilo McGarry, head of automation at Alter Domus, and Sathya Narasimhan, senior director of new ventures and technologies in product management at SAP SE. They provided insight into RPA finance use cases in the latest episode of our LinkedIn Live series, “CXO Corner.”
Automation can help companies get their attrition rates down, reduce error rates, and lower operational risks. These are the kinds of “losses” that McGarry and Narasimhan commonly see among automation adopters.
Banks, for instance, can do more with the same number of employees. At the same time, they’re taking on additional customers and offering new services and saving money.
Banks are even using automation to maintain regulatory compliance, something that McGarry said regulators are increasingly excited about. Regulatory compliance is an especially heavy burden for financial-services firms, and the penalties for errors can be huge. The ability to so leverage automation to streamline compliance is a massive benefit.
Not only are banks performing these tasks more efficiently and with greater accuracy, but they’re also freeing their employees to focus on more meaningful, value-added work.
Gaining competitive edge through automation
RPA finance use cases highlight the power of automation to help companies get ahead.
“You’re never going to be able to compete with a company that has massively deployed the digital workforce because they are better at high-volume, high-frequency, low-complexity tasks,” McGarry said, taking a high-level look at the market today. “If half of their work is getting done by robots, and all of my work is getting done by humans, we know who is going to win that race.”
He pointed toward the manufacturing revolution of a few decades ago that saw companies successfully integrate humans and robots. Automation has continued to propel manufacturers forward with lights-out operations that can run without extensive human oversight or intervention and “with the lights off.”
Narasimhan said that finance is on the cusp of becoming a lights-out operation itself in the next three to five years. While RPA is not the only technology that will contribute to revolution, it very well could provide the crucial missing piece by helping to automate the mundane tasks that hold people back from their true workplace potential.
RPA in finance: The big picture
McGarry and Narasimhan both agreed that the only things that RPA bots won’t excel at in the next five years are strategy, executive decisions, and other tasks that really require human power and expertise. But what RPA can do is help human workers perform these tasks better themselves, again, by taking away tedium.
Beware of RPA pitfalls that can undercut the benefits of robotic process automation, including leaving out the human element.
“There will always be a space for us and things to do. Should we be really doing these boring repetitive tasks? That’s more of a bigger life question people should ask themselves in order to embrace this technology and really use it to their advantage,” McGarry said.
“Just be comfortable with the fact that there is something out there that’s better than you at doing really high-volume repetitive work and that leaves you the space to go and do something more creative, something more interesting for your company or in your career so that you can look back and think, ‘Wow, I didn’t waste 30, 40 years of my life doing really boring things.’”