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Getting the right robots? Getting robots right?

A successful RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is a business-lead initiative involving strong partnerships among IT, cyber security, risk, and human resources and many more departments within companies. We asked Ajay Bali, Digital and Analytics Leader at EY Luxembourg to detail the ins and outs of successful RPA strategies. 100 to 200 startups are active in the field globally, more specifically in cognitive and artificial intelligence sectors; a lot of new players are using RPA Bots on the Cloud as a platform to offer services.
(Featured Image: Ajay Bali is helping clients on their RPA journey / Image Credit © Olivier Minaire)
Why robots?

We know from records that for much of human history production has been labor intensive. Then from the onset of the industrial revolution civilizations progressed to a more mechanical means of production, the results were a dramatic reduction in production time coupled with a sizeable increase in output.

If you look at the last few years, many companies have been talking about optimization, but what they did is to shift jobs from one center to another, developing countries were the primary benefactors so as costs in these locations were much less expensive than their more developed peers. But the complexities of the jobs remain the same. Simple outsourcing doesn’t solve the issue at all for process automation and optimization.

Over the past three years, RPA has become more commercialized. Technological developments has allowed it to become easier and cheaper to implement RPA software.

“Bots are an asset for any type of industries from banking, to mining, telecom, insurance, automotive or public administration etc.”

Why should companies implement an RPA?

To put it simply, RPA adds value to the user firm, it allows employees focus on value. To start the RPA journey, the first thing is to identify which processes could be automated and define the business case as well as the benefits. At times many companies start automating without seeing the bigger picture and assessing correct processes, this is where EY helps clients in assessing the right solutions and delivering those benefits.

Companies are always looking to optimize processes. The question is: how do I make my human resources (more) focused on delivering high value work? How can a Bot help me on repetitive work? Bots will not replace humans of course. But there are with more emerging ecosystems that require robots as a software like any software we’re using today. You and I are using these digital assets to make our lives easier. Of course, those ecosystems using a virtual workforce will be managed by humans. The goal is to have lower manual tasks and to save time; e.g. capturing data, entering date in a system, making quality checks, etc. Bots are an asset for any type of industries from banking, to mining, telecom, insurance, automotive or public administration etc.

“If we talk about ROI (Return On Investment) companies can save up to 30% of their costs while implementing a RPA.”

I don’t think IT infrastructure is an obstacle to implement a RPA, as infrastructure are more and more efficient. Security is one aspect of RPA, which if set up right from the beginning, the data could be safer and more secured from governance perspective. We at EY while helping clients on RPA journey, ensure adequate controls and governance are in place to help minimize the security risks.

If we talk about ROI (Return On Investment) companies can save up to 30% of their costs while implementing a RPA. Of course, it depends on how the organization is mature or not and the agility as you can create 24/7 operations instead of nine-to-five!

How are you helping companies in the implementation of a RPA?

We have a complete charter to bring these digital management programs into companies. We currently have over 700 resources on RPA, which are spread across local offices and EY RPA CoE across Europe and Asia.

“Implementing a good RPA process adds value and help companies to scale up, and reduce operating costs.”

The very first step is to start a small pilot of proof-of-concept to see if the technology works and how well it works within the existing environment. Then we examine if there is value in bringing the robots to the company and look at the best technology to implement. The next step is to look into the processes and how those one could be adapted or standardized from a RPA perspective. Instead of changing everything, we educate the companies in a continuous change program through a lean startup approach of picking 5 to 10 processes each quarter. We prefer to start with few processes and help companies developed adequate competencies on setting up RPA capabilities and ensuring ongoing optimization on the go.

To sum up, implementing a good RPA process adds value and help companies to scale up, and reduce operating costs. At EY, we have nearly 400 RPA Bots implemented globally, that we use internally to do back office work and to streamline Finance, HR hiring processes and the payroll process, giving us a first-hand experience of RPA in a real world environment.


This article was first published in the Summer 2017 issue of SILICON magazine. Be the first to read SILICON articles on paper before they’re posted online, plus read exclusive features and interviews that only appear in the print edition, by subscribing online.

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