RPA Will Reshape Our World in 2021 and Beyond
Automation Anywhere CTO Prince Kohli highlights five ways that RPA will reshape our digital world in 2021 and beyond.
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The year 2020 was a watershed moment for automation. The challenges posed by the global pandemic – in which many businesses had to move operations remotely, nearly overnight – forced CIOs to turbocharge digital transformation and start executing on their 2025 digital transformation strategies – five years earlier than many had planned.
A May 2020 report from Forrester Research asserted that the pandemic resulted in a shift in "automation psychology" that will spark an 18- to-24-month period of rapidly accelerating automation.
As part of this disruption, many organizations that were caught off guard deployed a digital workforce consisting of software bots to drive productivity in the near term and brace for future disruptions longer term. Today, as 2021 gets underway, we’re edging closer to realizing the full potential of a hybrid digital/human workforce.
Following a year of such incredible uncertainty and change, which highlighted the value of technology to solve some of our world’s most pressing challenges, it is critical to ask ourselves what comes next. How will automation technology continue to redefine the way humans work and transform industries? What are the next major evolutions we should prepare for? Where does this untapped potential lie?
To that end, below are my five predictions for how RPA will reshape our world in 2021 and beyond.
- We will soon automate automations. We are nearing an inflection point where we can fully automate the process of automation, where intelligent autonomous bots can analyze manual, repetititive business processes and then identify those opportunities to automate without human intervention. Once this moment happens, the enterprise will be able to rewrite itself. As a result, nearly 100% of enterprise workflows that exist in the Fortune 1000 will be rewritten in this next decade, as the way we work continues to evolve. Automation will become entirely plug - and - play and continuously self-improve, allowing the technology to be applied to increasingly complex processes.
- RPA will play a critical role in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. We have just embarked upon the biggest vaccination campaign in history. As the U.S. rollout continues to fall short of federal projections, intelligent automation will play a key role in streamlining the complicated logistics required for the vaccines to reach our most vulnerable populations by automating the public enrollment process, as well as reporting, which can be a cumbersome task if done manually. As an example, bots can easily auto-populate vaccine registration forms to help reduce attrition. Bots will also play an important role in ensuring pharmacovigilance and automating the adverse event reporting process since it is vital to swiftly address these events and identify emerging trends.
- RPA will integrate with personal health devices, enabling a new era for digital wellness. RPA, combined with AI and advancements in health monitoring devices, such as the Apple Watch, will be one of the most important technological tandems ever created. Through most of the human existence on Earth, we’ve had a limited understanding of our body’s vital stats outside of a hospital. Now, these IoT devices can measure our vitals 24/7 and are continuing to add new measurement capabilities. While humans would be unable to parse the deluge of data and see trends across data streams, bots can do this with ease — providing unparalleled healthcare monitoring, alert, and actionable capabilities that we are just now beginning to realize.
- Intelligent document processing will be key to enabling a “work from anywhere” workforce. IDC predicts that by 2025, worldwide data will exceed 175 zettabytes. This data is at the heart of digital transformation but unfortunately, 80% of all business data is embedded in unstructured formats like business documents, emails, images, and various PDF documents.
Intelligent document processing will become one of the most important tools for business success in the new normal of distributed work, particularly as employees no longer have access to their employers’ physical files and businesses are facing pressure to digitally evolve at breakneck pace. Every company using RPA needs to be able to manage both structured and unstructured data otherwise its intelligent automation system is incomplete.
- Automation will become ubiquitous in customer service. Businesses understand that impeccable customer service can mean the difference between being an industry’s key leader to just being one of its many players — which is why Nordstrom, REI, and Costco are succeeding despite the current challenges the retail sector is facing. As a result, many organizations are turning to bots to augment their customer service sectors — alleviating the burdensome administrative tasks, paperwork, and compliance to free support agents to focus on the customer.
This will have particular resonance in sectors such as travel which have been devasted by COVID-19. Airlines, for example, leveraged bots to streamline increasing airline customer refunds by 700%. Banks, which have been understaffed and overwhelmed with paperwork, will increase their use of bots to automate the deluge of PPP and other loans to help customers who’ve been ravaged by the pandemic. Since it isn’t feasible to simply hire hundreds of people, bots can dramatically enhance the efficiency of each support agent, particularly as enterprises prepare for the next major disruption.
We’re in the midst of a major inflection point in enterprise technology. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to catalyze digital transformation, we’re seeing the creation and evolution of new technologies that will redefine the way we live and work over the next decade.
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