Robotic process automation (RPA) is here and companies at the forefront of the adoption of this technology are reaping a variety of benefits.

What Is RPA?

As discussed in a previous Tech & Sourcing @Morgan Lewis blog post, RPA offers a multitude of benefits, from speed and scalability of process execution to cost savings, to freeing up employees to focus on aspects of their jobs that are intrinsically “human” in nature.

RPA includes advanced software robots that are built with machine-learning algorithms while others do not require artificial intelligence because they are designed to complete rules-based tasks. RPA programs are generally being overseen by enterprise technology executives, including chief information and innovation officers.

RPA has already been adopted in multiple business categories including IT, finance, manufacturing, telecommunications, retail, human resources and accounting to automate repetitive, mundane, and rules-based tasks.

RPA Benefits

Businesses that have incorporated RPA technology have obtained positive return on investment within 18 months of deployment, according to a Computer Economics Technology Trends 2019 study released in March 2019, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The study included companies across a variety of business sectors, with annual sales between $20 million and $1 billion or more.

About 12% of the approximately 250 companies surveyed as part of the study said they had adopted an RPA project. According to the study, about 50% of the companies that have adopted RPA in some form reported that they received a positive return on investment within 18 months of deployment and nearly 50% reported breaking even. Additionally, the study notes that about 21% of those who have already adopted RPA also said that they anticipated investing more in RPA over the next 18 months.

Benefits Are More Than Financial

“The benefit and ROI is not just financial,” said Jon Theuerkauf, chief customer officer at robotic process automation vendor Blue Prism Group in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal. Customers are measuring ROI based on the number of hours that employees save on mundane, repetitive tasks that have been automated, said Mr. Theuerkauf.

Additional benefits associated with the use of RPA include reduction of mistakes in data entry and other tasks, increased efficiency, and improved customer satisfaction which, in turn, increases retention and loyalty.

The value created by all of these benefits have driven companies to expand their efforts in automation and artificial intelligence. According to a Forrester Research report, the market for software robots is expected to grow to $2.9 billion by 2021, up from $250 million in 2016.