Intelligent automation (IA) is now about so much more than automating simple repetitive processes. Robotic process automation (RPA) has come out of the back office. Now digital workers can use human-like, cognitive automation capabilities to carry out more complex tasks that take account of exceptions and variations.
As intelligent digital workers support more innovation and new sources of revenue, there’s pressure to extract ever more business value from IA. In fact, IBM has found that 79% of executives whose organizations are scaling IA expect their organization to outperform the competition in revenue growth in the next three years.
On-premise RPA – feeling the strain
If you have an on-premise RPA solution, over the past two or three years you will have seen growing business value as you have scaled up IA to contribute to business insights, problem solving and sharing information. But now the constraints may be starting to appear. Perhaps your servers need a refresh, or the IT team is the bottleneck, overwhelmed with the workload of patches, updates and requests for new functionality.
If you’re already using IA, chances are you’re looking to the cloud to scale up, and reduce costs and time to value. If you’re at the beginning of your IA journey, there’s a real opportunity to leapfrog rivals by going straight to the cloud, bypassing the potential hardware, software and staffing constraints of on-premise solutions.
Agility and flexibility are business-critical attributes to meet the constantly changing priorities of the business. As a business owner, you’re looking for maximum return. Digital workers work for you 24/7. So far, so good. But if you don’t have the human or IT resources to build the infrastructure needed to support more digital workers, there’s a problem. Managing, monitoring, upgrading, patching, testing and configuring the infrastructure comes at a high cost that can delay time-to-value and reduce profits. This is where RPA in the cloud comes in.
Deploying RPA in the cloud
Deploying RPA in the cloud will deliver:
1. Higher agility
Cloud-based automation can be scaled up, and down, as needed. Preconfigured digital workers are ready to spring into action.
A cloud-based, software-as-a service approach eliminates the cost, effort and time it takes to build, manage, scale, and support your IA initiatives. At the same time you’ve access to an enormously scalable pool of resources.
2. Faster time to value
Cloud automation platforms let you add additional workers in hours rather than days or weeks – so you can innovate without restriction. It is easy to set up the platform quickly, to allow you to start building processes and training digital workers to deliver value.
Just as importantly, when it comes to accelerating time to value, there’s no need to wait for the IT team to deliver new and better processes. Some businesses looking to extend their on-premise automation report that it can take three, four or five months to set up the infrastructure because IT teams are so overwhelmed. In the cloud, your business unit managers can boost capacity and skills in a couple of days, without needing to call on IT.
3. Exponential value
Deploying RPA In the cloud puts the power to innovate and develop better products and services directly into the hands of business people. Automating increasingly complex processes leaves humans free to focus on high value work, such as high-level decision making and non-routine customer communications.
When people are not spending time on the infrastructure or the applications, they're free to focus on what the business needs and how they can keep on delivering value to the company.
4. Maximum security and compliance
As digital workers increasingly carry out business-critical processes, making sure they are secure and always available is vital. So, it is very important to set stringent SLAs for downtime, security monitoring or upgrades.
As well as keeping the lights on and maintaining service delivery, security also plays into compliance and meeting regulatory demands for things like storing and securing personal and financial data. It is often a challenge for in-house IT teams to match the rigorous SLAs of cloud service providers. This is partly due to slow-to-upgrade on premise technology which deprives in-house IT of the latest features and functionality and can also become a security issue. Disaster recovery is quicker and easier with a cloud solution that is replicated between data centers in different locations.
5. Improved total cost of ownership
Total cost of ownership (TCO) for IA solutions takes account of the hard and soft costs of owning, managing and maintaining the system, such as purchasing your RPA software, creating your automated processes – and what you spend running them on servers. There are also costs associated with managing, updating, testing and scaling your processes – not to mention the costs of securing and auditing processes.
TCO is not just about cost comparisons. With the cloud approach, you get a platform that is always using the latest technology, functions and features. This way, you can start offering new products and services more quickly, keeping one step ahead of the competition.
There are two options when it comes to deploying RPA to the cloud. One option is to take server space in the public cloud. This offers some benefits, such as having servers maintained offsite. But it leaves you with a management overhead – you still have to load up, integrate and manage all of the applications and software. And some of the advantages of a managed cloud-based IA services, such as preconfigured digital workers that are ready to spring into action, are not available. Managed services are hosted on dedicated platforms, too, so there's no shared infrastructure – providing maximum security and compliance.
RPA in the cloud in action
Specialist global insurance company Thomas Miller provides complex, high value insurance to clients such as shipping and logistics businesses. To dispense fleet insurance, it’s sometimes necessary to transfer ships from one fleet to another – a highly complex and manual process, involving thousands of transactions for each ship. So, when Thomas Miller was considering deploying intelligent automation to increase efficiency, the company knew it needed a strategic approach.
Thomas Miller deployed a cloud-based Blue Prism intelligent digital workforce to take over the process of fleet transfers. After deployment, work that would have taken human workers three weeks was finished in a matter of days. This means that Thomas Miller now has its operational information stored in the correct systems, increasing accuracy and efficiency. The insurer has also extended its cloud-based IA to other parts of its business, such as automating the process of club renewals.
Digital transformation – the need for speed
More than two thirds of organizations (69%) believe that process automation is the key driver for digital transformation, according to Wall Street Research. As more companies realize that IA is central to getting the real benefit from digital transformation, a cloud solution delivers on the need for speed. RPA in the cloud is the fastest route to delivering the outcomes from automation that your business is looking for now. At the same time it is a secure and scalable springboard for future innovation.
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