How Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Can Drive Business Recovery Post COVID-19

Innovating on business recovery and digital transformation following an event like COVID-19 can be hard for businesses, but RPA can help. Find out how here.

How Robotics Process Automation (RPA) Can Drive Business Recovery Post COVID-19

8th July 2020

Back in December 2019, Gartner predicted in a report on robotic process automation (RPA) that 2020 would experience an “RPA renaissance,” due to the high levels of investment, R&D, and customer feedback it had observed. But does this prediction still hold weight amidst the changing landscape brought about by COVID-19?

In fact, we’d argue that business automation through RPA should be an even higher priority for forward-thinking companies. ‘Business as usual’ won’t look the same as it did before the global pandemic began (at least, it won’t for a long time). In the interim, businesses will need new operational processes and functions to drive future success – and RPA can play a critical role.

Driving Innovation Through Automation

RPA offers clear value for companies that are driving innovation specific to the COVID-19 outbreak. For instance, teams have been using RPA to:

  • Streamline the hiring process for healthcare facilities so that they can rapidly scale up personnel to meet increased demand.
  • Support nurses and other front-line health care professionals by capturing, managing and filing information needed for the processing of COVID-19 tests.
  • Capture data from patients with concerning symptoms before they come to a clinic for testing in order to prioritise how appointments should be handled. 
  • Facilitate the administrative requirements associated with vaccine and treatment development in order to speed time-to-market for potential cures.

However, companies that have been more indirectly impacted must consider the importance of ongoing innovation as well. An analysis by non-partisan policy think tank, the Atlantic Council, as shared by contributor David Braue in an ACS InformationAge article, suggests that "the coronavirus pandemic will 'accelerate innovation significantly' as world economies adjust to the impact of massive changes in long-established models of work."

One question that should be top-of-mind for any company that wants to be on the leading edge of this innovation is how it'll be funded and executed. As Braue notes,

“In Australia, capitalising on innovation opportunities has traditionally come with the strong backing of government bodies and public-private partnerships whose viability may be tested when the government releases its delayed coronavirus-focused 2020-2021 budget in October” David Braue

In the absence of such funding opportunities, Australian companies may carry the burden of financing innovation themselves if they want to remain competitive – and business process automation through RPA may be able to help. When implemented thoughtfully, RPA can free up both human and financial resources to be reallocated towards higher-priority investments – such as those that allow companies to innovate and remain competitive – by automating low-value, manual, and/or repetitive tasks.

As businesses become more well-versed and understanding of as-a-service models and automation opportunities for their business, the adoption of cloud computing and automation continues to grow. The RPA as-a-service model offers a number of benefits for businesses: 

  • Your business does not incur the upfront costs of purchasing servers, licensing or professional services
  • If you only require RPA technology for a specific period of time or projects, you will not have to buy the technology and have the ability to start and pause services.      
  • RPA as-a-service gives you the control to ensure the robots are working exactly when you need them to. Additionally, only carry out tasks you require from them. This ensures maximum efficiency and directly impacts ROI.

Digital Transformation with RPA

For some companies, simply staying afloat in today’s uncertain markets may seem so insurmountably difficult that proactively investing in innovation feels impossible. But even amidst these challenging circumstances, companies can’t afford to ignore the importance of undertaking digital transformation initiatives.

The circumstances surrounding the current coronavirus pandemic mean that ‘digital transformation’ isn’t some nebulous concept. It’s a de facto reality that businesses have had to rapidly embrace as they shift their operations to digital alternatives in order to maintain continuity throughout this crisis.

And although no one can predict what the state of business will look like in a month, a year, or even 10 years, at Converga we believe that this shift to digital operations is unlikely to fade, given the cost and efficiency benefits it has produced. If this prediction holds true, digital transformation through RPA won’t just be a ‘nice-to-have’ that produces a compelling business advantage. It could make the difference in a company’s ability to survive in these permanently-altered environments.

“The pandemic has forced the hand of many organisations to rapidly adopt digital strategies that were once medium to long term initiatives. The businesses that will hasten their recovery will be those that adopt a digital first mindset, where leaders have created a culture that empowers their business to become faster, more agile, efficient and resilient.” Ken Hickey, Head of Business Processes, Converga

Operational Process Changes Due to COVID-19

Though the financial impacts of COVID-19 are poised to be as devastating as the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, it is interesting to note how different the underlying causes are of each disruption. Although the GFC was largely financially-centered, today’s shutdowns are more operational in nature, due to the enormous number of health-driven closures.

This distinction manifests itself in two ways in the context of COVID-19 recovery. First, robot-driven technologies and other automations may play a significant role in creating safe workspaces. RPA deployments can take on some tasks that would otherwise require workers to return to physical offices before it’s safe to do so.

For example, businesses in the insurance industry have seen an increase in the number of claims and service desk calls made as a result of COVID-19, particularly in travel insurance claims and rent defaults. With business’ typically outsourcing or offshoring service desk centres and the restrictions on working in offices, there has been a significant delay in the completion of enquiries from consumers. The implementation of an automated bot to log service calls from a web form is an example of speeding up the delay process your business may be experiencing. 
Check out the video below on how RPA can help increase efficiency and productivity within your business whilst improving customer satisfaction.


Don’t Get Left Behind

While it may feel impossible to imagine what the future holds during these unprecedented times, it’s also clear that the aftermath of COVID-19 will highlight the differences between those businesses that embrace digital transformation, and those that don’t. And although there’s no ‘right’ way to navigate these uncharted waters, it’s clear that there is one ‘wrong’ approach: burying your head in the sand and waiting for things to get back to normal.

The businesses that come out ahead in the future will be those that are willing to carefully evaluate both the new challenges they’re facing and the breadth of solutions that may be available to solve them. RPA is one such solution that could play a pivotal role in your business’s ability to not just to survive these uncertain times, but to thrive.

Don’t risk being left behind by savvier competitors. Reach out to Converga to discuss your business’s RPA needs and opportunities.