Robotic Process Automation becoming popular in Asia-Pacific

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Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is often associated with the replacement of humans with robots, but to businesses is essential to maintain a competitive edge. A new study shows that Asia-Pacific companies are the most prepared to deal with the fears associated with RPA.

Global consulting firm Protiviti, along with ESI ThoughtLab, conducted a global study into the adoption of RPA at companies from multiple regions, revealing the benefits, challenges, most effective strategies, and lessons learned from adoption of this versatile technology. The study, titled “Taking RPA to the Next Level,” found that investment in RPA is increasing significantly across all industries, and those that adopt RPA are able to boost market share, revenue, and customer satisfaction.

Asia-Pacific Adoption of RPA

Asia-Pacific companies already use RPA across multiple industries. Of those surveyed, 95% use or are experimenting with RPA, and of those who have already adopted it, 61% expect to increase implementation in the next two years.

Of all regions, Asia-Pacific companies are the most worried about employee engagement and concerns in the process of RPA adoption. Of companies surveyed, 37% ranked ‘making sure your staff is on board and RPA responsibilities are defined’ as the most important lesson learned while implementing RPA, compared to 23% in the US and 26% in Europe.

Furthermore, 72% stated their preparedness to manage employee fears that their jobs will be displaced by automation, the most of any region. Meanwhile, globally businesses classified as RPA leaders have highlighted the importance of transparency and the benefits of increasing employee engagement by eliminating repetitive tasks.

“Employees fear the impact of RPA on their jobs and to allay those concerns, RPA leaders need to be open and transparent about their plans and actively retrain or repost employees whose jobs will be disrupted. To assuage employee fears, organizations are taking key steps by being transparent about their plans for RPA use, working closely with employees to understand and alleviate their concerns, and accentuating the positive relating to time saved on mundane repetitive work,” said Adam Johnston, Managing Director, Protiviti Hong Kong. “Many companies are already in front of the issue and aggressively managing the options. More than half of organizations are redeploying staff and providing training for new responsibilities as part of their RPA plans.”  

Value of RPA

Among Asia-Pacific companies, increased productivity, better quality, and a stronger competitive market position were identified as the three most important benefits they have received from RPA. In the past year, 53 percent of businesses reported a revenue increase in the areas where they applied RPA. All project revenue to increase in the next two years.

As Asia-Pacific businesses realize the benefits of RPA, many plan to devote more of their budget to further RPA applications. In the next two years, 70 percent approximate an increase in budget allocation to RPA, of which 34 percent project an increase of more than 5 percent. This is largely on par with plans for future investment in the US and Europe, the two other regions surveyed.

Global Investments in RPA

RPA implementation is gaining popularity around the world. Globally, businesses are investing an average of US$5 million into the technology, which is expected to increase in the coming years. Financial services and technology/media telecommunications use RPA the most, while implementation has progressed in IT management, marketing and communications, quality/process improvement, product development and accounting/finance. Over the next two years, RPA is expected to be adopted most rapidly in auditing and compliance, operations/supply chain management, and human resources management.

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