RPA for Service Providers
Blog 09/06/2017

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is rapidly changing the way outsourcing service providers design and deliver their solutions. As this technology evolves and becomes more powerful while an emerging global middle class, demanding middle class wages (i), drives up offshoring costs, service providers are being forced to consider alternative solutions to keep their costs competitive and deliver better, more efficient services to clients. One of the primary areas they are looking to is automation. Automation is quickly becoming a dominant force in the global economy. It currently accounts for 10% of GDP growth and 16% of labor productivity growth annually, and will continue to become more important in the coming years (ii). Service providers are looking to harness this power, allowing them to take advantage of the growing capabilities of automation solutions to augment their services and deliver competitive pricing to clients.

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

RPA is any technology that allows companies to automate support processes, data manipulation and other transactional activities. It allows service providers to significantly improve their response times and deliver better, more cost-effective services to clients. It can encompass several areas, including business processes, IT support, accounting, administration and workflow. Some areas can be almost entirely automated. For example, studies show that 69% of the work currently done in data processing by human workers could be automated. This work accounts for 16% of the total time spent working in the United States (iii). The ability of automation to adapt to such a wide range of roles and take the place of so many human workers gives service providers the flexibility they need to reduce their reliance on offshoring and reimplement jobs in onshore locations while maintaining costs and improving service to clients.

What advantages does RPA give service providers?

RPA offers many advantages over traditional outsourcing. It allows providers to leverage the power of automation to augment their human workforce, improve cycle time and increase accuracy. Other benefits include rapid scalability, better support, and greater efficiency.

  • Scale to meet demand – One of the greatest advantages of using RPA is that services can quickly scale to meet current demand. Without the need to hire additional workers, source physical locations and perform all associated HR tasks, there is much less overhead and infrastructure associated with scaling. Service providers using RPA can simply allocate more virtual resources to a process with the click of a button, allowing companies to maintain optimal resource allocation while always meeting the demands of end users.
  • Deliver better support – Automation solutions allow service providers to bring up information, answer questions and solve problems faster than ever before. It is now possible for routine issues to be automatically resolved, dramatically reducing human workload while increasing end-user satisfaction.
  • Increased reliability – Humans are naturally prone to errors. The very abilities that allow human workers to be incredibly adaptable to new situations also means that they are never perfectly suited to any one particular task. RPA, on the other hand, can be tailored to the task at hand, performing it at multiple times the speed of a human worker with little to no risk of error.
  • Improve efficiency – The costs of labor in many traditionally affordable markets have risen dramatically in recent years. In order to deliver better cost efficiency, service providers are turning to RPA to allow them to improve productivity with a smaller workforce. This dramatically reduces costs while making it possible to repatriate jobs.

Conclusions

The automation revolution is already here. It is estimated that currently available technologies could replace approximately 50% of the of the world’s work activity (iv). Companies that ignore this coming trend will inevitably be left behind.

RPA offers many benefits to organizations looking to improve speed and reduce costs without sacrificing accuracy or reliability. However, in order to be implemented successfully, it is important that it be a high level strategic decision with buy-in from business and IT leaders. Stakeholders across the organization must be able to provide the necessary support and resources to make the initiative a success. It is also important that client organizations choose their service provider organizations wisely. Partners should be able to work with the client to meet their unique needs and deliver a comprehensive proof-of-concept before deployment. This allows clients to reduce their risks while investing in a forward-thinking strategy. Ultimately, with the right service provider partner, companies can realize the full potential of automation by repatriating jobs, increasing reliability and reducing costs.

(i) Weisman, Rich, “Why offshoring may not be as cost-effective as it used to be”, Supply Chain Dive, Nov.15, 2016.
(ii) https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2015/04/27/robots-are-infiltrating-the-growth-statistics/ Accessed May 2017.
(iii) McKinsey Global Institute, A Future That Works: Automation, Employment, and Productivity, p.9, Jan.2017.
(iv) Ibid.

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