We often see robots turning against humanity in sci-fi films, dramatized for our enjoyment, but the fear of robots is real for some people. Automation is having a huge effect on both small and large businesses in the UK. Scott Dodds of Ultima looks at how CEOs embrace the robots, and not fear them.
A OnePoll research survey for Ultima, the infrastructure and automation services provider, found that 88% of SMEs are considering using intelligent robotic process automation (RPA) to help them with data compliance.
RPA is the use of software robots to automate business processes, for example, in back-office functions or other core areas. Combined with Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technologies, the use cases for process automation are even wider, and provide even greater returns.
The results of the research undertaken with 500 senior decision makers within businesses employing 50 to 99 employees (that use computers connected to the internet) demonstrates how many SMEs are viewing RPA as a means of helping with data regulation.
Enjoying the improved accuracy
RPA ensures greater accuracy of processing, and thereby compliance by removing human error. It also ensures greater security of data and information, and can be used in many areas including HR, legal, finance and IT.
Considering the investment vs penalties
SME leaders have undoubtedly been weighing up the investment in RPA versus the significant financial penalties for infringing data protection legislation such as GDPR, on top of any business financial loss which could be occurred if they were left vulnerable through poor security. The investment helps to improve the overall IT security of the business, as well as compliance, so the benefits are far-reaching. Happily, there are now RPA offerings for SMEs that use software robots as part of a SaaS offering making them affordable as well as effective.
At Ultima we have been using RPA technology to automate some of our own back-end operations and we’ve seen productivity rise by a factor of two since implementing the technology across five processes. The use of robots in our own IT managed service offering has ensured we have greater control over our data, removed room for human error, and is ensuring we meet the GDPR.
Freeing up talent
The research also found that over half (56 %) of SMEs had plans to use RPA to free up staff, allowing them to work on higher value work. Automated systems can perform repetitive, high-volume tasks, introducing greater speed and consistency. Resource time can be reallocated to more innovation-focused and complex tasks, which can reduce the need for lengthy process optimisation or outsourcing programmes.
Enabling employees to switch off from mundane tasks to focus on more strategic and innovative ones will in turn help to facilitate greater job satisfaction and enhance staff retention.
Welcoming the rise of the cobots
We predict that in the future every employee will have a ‘cobot’ that works alongside them undertaking the mundane tasks that we don’t necessary need or want to do. The cobots’ consistency and their ability to avoid ‘human mistakes’ will also have a positive effect on the way we work, taking the stress out of many simple but necessary tasks.
A recent survey by PwC found that 72% of companies expect to achieve advanced levels of digitisation by 2020. This transformation is essential to ensure companies, including British SMEs, gain competitive advantage and remain relevant in a digital world. For many this requires a major shift in how they sell goods and services to customers and how they operate. By embracing the robots many are already unlocking the power of RPA to improve efficiency, allowing them to use their best asset - their employees – to focus on and undertake more transformative activities.
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement