By Jason F. Hopkins
Robotic process automation (RPA) sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. There are many new terms floating around about it that you’ve probably heard some among your fellow business owners. Although terms like cognitive automation, robotic process automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence all sound similar, there is an important distinction.
These technologies are complementary with each other and often go hand in hand, supporting one mission and that is: improving productivity, cutting costs, and reducing manual labor. RPA has sparked the digital transformation, while the pandemic also changed the outlook of many businesses drastically.
Digital transformation for small businesses
Small businesses are the perfect candidates for the next wave of digital transformation with RPA adoption. If you think that it’s just another novelty that will go away in a few years, you might be set up for disappointment. It is estimated that in 5 years it will reach near-universal adoption.
If you want to raise the bar a bit more, then you will want to read this article to find out how RPA can help transform your processes no matter how big or small your business is. In the end, it will help you bring better business decisions, predict better outcomes, reduce costly mistakes caused by human error, and automate processes.
Why is RPA important today?
Benefits of RPA are proven in large enterprises – some of them that started an early implementation of RPA managed to earn two or even four times their investments. They also started implementing cognitive automation at the same time.
Now let’s check some interesting RPA statistics to help you paint the picture about the current state of things.
- Software revenue of robotic process automation (RPA) is projected to reach 1.89 billion in the next year. Experts predict that it will continue its stable growth despite Covid-19 and it will need about 5 years more for this growth to reach the plateau.
- Employees spend approximately 10-15% of their time doing menial tasks, while IT departments spend 30% of their time doing non-priority level tasks.
- What is unique for all enterprises that adopted RPA – 85% claim that it exceeded their expectations, saved money, and improved compliance.
Why should small businesses consider using Robotic Process Automation?
Compared to large enterprises, there is an advantage small businesses have that large companies lack. Being a small business means that your business operations are still not complex. It is a great opportunity to automate everything at the very beginning and once you allocate your resources you can strategize your future growth.
Routine and repetitive tasks are killing productivity, clogging your cash flow, and doing things the old way won’t give you a competitive advantage.
The only downside is a need for upfront investment in RPA and about a year is needed for RPA software to be completely integrated into your company.
Small business processes that can benefit from automation
Implementing RPA solution can improve the following aspects of your business:
Automating your invoices
The invoice process is repetitive, prone to human mistakes and manual invoice processing could take days. AP automation (accounts payable automation) can help you streamline the entire process. You will get accurate information, make sure it is compliant with all the regulations, and make sure everything is done promptly. Invoice formats are also synchronized.
This is important in b2b transactions. Eventually, it will lead to increased satisfaction and greater trust of your partner and that is important for your future growth.
Human resources, no matter what, will remain your biggest strength and most important asset. There is no artificial intelligence that will replace ideas and creativity, they can just work together on the same goal. You can have the best of both worlds.
When a new employee joins your team, it is an exciting process but it takes a lot of time and resources. The company needs to share all the necessary information, create the accounts, and access all the tools for their new employee. This could be completely automated and reduce your paperwork, so speed up the administration to give a proper welcome to your new employee.
Storing data and data analytics
Big data will become even bigger nowadays and a lot of companies are having a hard time finding the way to store their data and use it to their advantage. 85% of the entire data is unstructured. The companies are missing out on a big opportunity to find hidden treasures lurking in the world of dark data.
RPA can help with unstructured and semi-structured data formats, giving your business a competitive edge. Data is analyzed in real-time, it can help you recognize some data patterns, analyze customer behavior, and act quicker.
RPA can also help you strengthen your cybersecurity. RPA and cognitive automation could point you to some weaknesses that have the potential to become threats.
Digital transformation is happening at full speed, bringing the evolution of technology that is happening right before our eyes. Catch that wave and try to learn from bigger players in the market. Technologies are not reserved for big players only – grab the opportunity and start playing with the big boys.
Jason F. Hopkins is a business consultant with a passion for writing. Doing his research, exploring, and writing are his favorite things to do. Besides that, he loves playing his guitar, cooking, and traveling.