Is robotics too good to be true?

By Nye Longman
Robotics and Automation specialist, Redwood Software has launched new research in association with Shared Services Link, the online community for financ...

Robotics and Automation specialist, Redwood Software has launched new research in association with Shared Services Link, the online community for finance, shared services and outsourcing leaders.

‘The Power of Robotics in Shared Services’ report surveyed over 100 shared services professionals, revealing that 67 percent respondents plan on using robotic process automation in the next 12 months.

However, varying definitions of the term has led to confusion regarding what can be achieved. 97 percent are confident that robots can automate manual data entry tasks, though just 52 percent agree that they can “understand basic finance processes”, and just 51 percent believe they can “replace human activity to be performed by robots end to end”.

For the 27 percent respondents that are currently using robotics, the greatest reported benefits are improved process efficiency (84 percent), improved accuracy of data (75 percent) and improved productivity of FTEs (75 percent). 

The research reveals the key perceived advantage of releasing this FTE capacity to be “more time for value-adding activities.” 72 percent plan to leverage existing investment in ERP to drive further automation in the next twelve months.

For those who have reservations about implementing robotics, “not sure on return on investment” is the most common response (42 percent). 36 percent report that they “don’t have the technical expertise to implement them”, while 31 percent fear that “RPA will lead to jobs loss in general.”

Neil Kinson, chief of staff, Redwood Software said: “When we talk about robotics, we are no longer talking about plugging in ‘dumb’ machines to mimic human activity at the user level, but integrating smart technology with built-in understanding of the end-to-end process and best practice.

“Businesses are also right to be looking towards their core ERP and sub systems as they integrate robotics, to scale robotics without the overhead of managing desktop sessions, maintain integrity across the entire process, and deliver the most comprehensive audit trail. However, for as long we remain fixated on the idea that robots replace humans – rather than re-imagine processes – businesses will be led to miss the true potential of robotic automation.”

Neil Kinson wrote about this subject in more detail in the June issue of Supply Chain Digital - read it here.

The full report is available to download here:

Supply Chain Digital's July issue is now live. 

Follow @SupplyChainD and @MrNLon on Twitter.

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