Is Robotics Process Automation (RPA) in Demand?
According to surveys done by different companies, including Gartner research, that seems to be the case.
Gartner reported in 2018 that the global spending for RPA in particular had reached US$680 million that year. In fact, it also reported the demand for RPA will reach a point where 60% of the most successful companies would have RPA implemented by the end of 2018. It estimated that by 2022, 85% of large and very large companies would have some form of RPA implemented within their company.
In the finance sector—fintech in particular—there is quite a demand for RPA. In fact, KPMG found that in the UK, for example, RPA and AI were considered to be popular areas for investment for fintech companies. That same study also noted that this trend holds true in the global scale as well.
The World Economic Forum’s research on the future of jobs noted that by 2022, 42% of total task hours performed by machines will increase from 29% (2017) to 42%.
The research also noted that these task hours were not limited to the manufacturing industry or agriculture, but also in other sectors such as Global Health and Healthcare, Financial Services and Investors, and Information and Communication Technologies.
But what about the Canadian market? Is the interest for RPA in Canada as high as the interest in the US and Europe?
ACCA Global’s 2018 report noted that in a survey they conducted, 58% of Canadian companies were either trialling or implementing RPA in their finance department. And that report only covered RPA trial or implementation in the finance department. And RPA can certainly be implemented in other departments as well.
Even the Canadian government is also implementing RPA. Currently, three different departments have released tenders with regards to RPA. With the Canada Revenue Agency being one of those departments currently seeking RPA implementation.
With the sheer volume of data that need to be entered into its system or even processed, RPA is certainly a good solution to have for the CRA. It would enable the task to be completed at a quicker rate. And the fact that there would be less data errors would certainly be a big advantage.
This falls in line to a report by KPMG Canada with regards to the readiness of the public sector with regards to RPA implementation. With the report noting that RPA can be integrated without any issue, even on older systems, for example. Because RPA implementation is considered to be low-risk and non-invasive, which is seen to be one of the main advantages of RPA.
One of the main concerns about automation in general is whether RPA or any type of automation would be replacing the human work force. Especially in the wake of research such as the one conducted by RBC last year, that stated that automation would impact at least half of Canadian jobs within the next 10 years.
Because of this and what is seen to be automation’s threat to “human jobs”, the Canadian government had been prompted to consider taxing the robots that would “take over” from workers.
However, the findings by the World Economic Forum mentioned earlier, estimated that while automation will do more tasks than humans in 2025, automation will also create new jobs.
The research found that while 75 million workers will be displaced, 133 million new roles will be available. It also mentioned that although the needs for certain roles will certainly diminish, the demand for other jobs will increase.
Jobs that require “human skills” such as sales and marketing and customer service will have a higher demand.
And for workers in the roles being replaced by automation, such as data entry clerks, a company’s re-skilling or up-skilling program can certainly help relocate them to other areas. Areas where their skills are desperately needed, for example.
RPA is certainly isn’t a fad—it’s certainly not going away any time soon. In fact, Gartner’s study noted that they’re expecting the number of RPA vendors to increase, along with the demands for the technology.
So, while the demand for RPA continues to rise, helping to increase productivity and efficiency, with the help of re-skilling or upskilling, workers whose jobs may be replaced by RPA can be relocated to higher value jobs. Not only will their skills be considered more valuable, if they are relocated to roles in sales, marketing, or even customer service, the demand for those particular roles would be there—would be increasing, in fact.
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