Global spending on robotic process automation (RPA) software is estimated to hit $680 million by the end of the year, according to the latest research from Gartner.
RPA tools mimic the “manual” path a human worker would take to complete a task, using a combination of user interface interaction describer technologies. The amount businesses have spent on RPA has gone up 57% from 2017 and Gartner suggests it’s going to increase in pace to total $2.4bn by 2022.
“End-user organizations adopt RPA technology as a quick and easy fix to automate manual tasks,” said Cathy Tornbohm, vice president at Gartner. “Some employees will continue to execute mundane tasks that require them to cut, paste and change data manually. But when RPA tools perform those activities, the error-margin shrinks and data quality increases.”
The biggest adopters of RPA are banks and telecoms companies and according to Tornbohm, this is because the technology allows for user control across every aspect of automated services, potentially helping avoid any automation mishaps.
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Robotic process automation, sometimes called “intelligent automation”, simply put, refers to the use of software to perform routine or repetitive tasks.
An overly simple example might be setting up an auto-response on your email account for when you’re not around to answer a sender’s email yourself.
But that really is a gross over-simplification compared to what RPA can do. In theory, any task currently completed by a human could be done with RPA.
Which means RPA is extremely powerful. It can make business more efficient, increase productivity, eliminate human errors, and can be applied to any industry.
In life sciences, for example, one of the largest companies in the world, AstraZeneca, asked management consultant Deloitte to implement an RPA solution that would help the pharmaceuticals giant deal with what are called “Adverse Event reports”.
AstraZeneca Patient Safety teams manage around 100,000 Adverse Event reports relating to their medicines every year.
An Adverse Event is described as “any untoward medical occurrence” in a patient receiving a medicine.
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