How business process automation is delivering 400% ROI
The fastest growing enterprise software category right now is business or robotic process automation platforms — last year the market grew over 63%. RPA helps companies automate tedious manual processes, taking them out of the hands of fallible humans and streamlining them so they’re faster, easier to run, and error-free.
More than just cost savings
While cost savings are generally the primary goal, in the form of potential headcount reductions and other cuts to spending, most companies rapidly discover that there are additional benefits that are sometimes even greater than those cost savings. Automation also reduces errors and risk, frees employees up to do more interesting work, which makes them more engaged, and customer service is improved, with faster responses and better results.
Everybody is doing it
But the number one reason companies should consider automating business processes? “Your competitors are probably already doing it,” says Jeff Grisenthwaite, VP of product at Catalytic. The rapid expansion of the software categories shows that companies are adopting automation at an extremely high pace. It’s rapidly become an essential component to business operations, and equally essential to the long-term survival of any company.
Taking a reality check
Before you dive in, keep this in mind: Very few business processes can actually be fully automated, end-to-end. Individual tasks within those workflows are often great candidates to automate, but there will always be some tasks that need to be completed by people — usually employees, but sometimes you need to go outside the walls of the organization for input from suppliers, partners, vendors, customers, or others as a part of the process.
What the automation does is orchestrate that entire process, so that the work can move seamlessly between people in the organization, people outside the organization, and the machines that are doing some of those tasks as well.
No silver bullet, just yet
It also comes down to the fact that while AI and machine learning are a huge leap forward in enabling the automation that’s possible now, it’s unfortunately not yet a silver bullet. It can perform some tasks as well as a human could, and some tasks even much better or faster than a human. But people still have the edge when it comes to qualitative input, commentary, and analysis, among other things — however, it’s the powerful combination of human expertise and automation that makes the magic happen.
It also transforms how employees feel about their work, Grisenthwaite says. The work that gets automated is almost always the least favorite part of people’s jobs — the highly repetitive, mind-numbingly detailed stuff, and often where mistakes can be costly. Once you automate that work, they’re able to free up their time to focus on those things where humans have that distinct advantage, like creative problem-solving, interacting with customers, writing, designing, and strategizing.
“These are areas where not only are people better than machines, but they’re also the things that are more energizing at work,” he explains. “Their productivity is going to increase, and at the same time they’ll be more engaged while they’re doing it.”
400% ROI? Not only possible, it’s happening
Grisenthwaite says that the ROI can be staggering, once a company identifies the places that automation can be implemented. An insurance broker client of Catalytic uses automation to extract over 200 different terms from the unstructured, inconsistent insurance quotes that come into them via email in PDF format. The terms are then structured and lined up in customer-ready proposals that are generated to provide side-by-side comparisons across different insurance carriers. In their first year of using automation, they’re achieving a 400% ROI. This article was first featured in www.VentureBeat.com