Bots Are Coming to APAC Companies

Robotic process automation (RPA) faces an apparent resistance. It promises efficiency but replaces humans in backend processes. A new study by Protiviti showed that Asia Pacific companies are not waiting for the resistance to be over.

The study, which was done with ESI ThoughtLab, found that RPA investment is increasing significantly in all industries. Entitled Taking RPA to the Next Level, the study revealed it boosted market share, revenue, and customer satisfaction.

RPA is already a mainstay across multiple industries. Of those surveyed, 95% use or are experimenting with RPA. Among adopters, 61% expect to increase implementation in the next two years.

APAC companies are most worried about employee engagement and concerns in RPA adoption. The survey noted that 37% ranked 'making sure your staff is on board, and RPA responsibilities are defined’ as the most important lesson learned while implementing RPA. The U.S. was at 23%, while Europe 26%.

Furthermore, 72% stated their preparedness to manage employee fears about job displacements. This is the most of any region. RPA leaders emphasized the importance of transparency and highlighting the value of 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.”

Increased productivity, better quality, and a stronger competitive market position were the three most important reasons why APAC companies are embracing RPA. In the past year, 53% 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 of them plan to devote more of their budget to further RPA applications. In the next two years, 70% approximate an increase in budget allocation to RPA, of which 34% project an increase of more than 5%. This is mostly on par with plans for future investment in the U.S. and Europe, the two other regions surveyed.

“When used correctly, RPA can deliver impressive results. However, reaping the full benefits of it requires a properly staged roadmap with critical steps to build momentum, create and deploy pilots, and monitor the effectiveness of bots," said Johnston.

"Along the way, companies should heed potential stumbling blocks and be prepared to surmount them. Executives also need to keep employees’ feelings and needs in view. Their support will be integral to deploying RPA effectively.”