I attended the 2018 CIO Summit in Dublin, Ireland recently and it included an interesting segment on Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

RPA is essentially the use of software robots to automate standardised manual tasks and processes. It has its origins in “screen-scraping” and workflow automation and to a certain extent automated testing but is still in its infancy today. Research from McKinsey indicates that half of today’s work activities could be automated by 2055 if not earlier.

A representative from Bank of Ireland presented on its RPA programme and approach at the conference. The bank currently has 130 software robots in operation managing approximately 110 different activities. The robots themselves are managed in turn by a team of 30 people.

Bank of Ireland has adopted an interesting “worker-bee” branding for RPA activities which no doubt helps with adoption. Once programmed and trained, the robots can work with legacy systems and are used to execute standardised processes eg elements of account opening.

Some interesting tips on where to use Robotic Process Automation:

• Best deployed on relatively short processes – ones that take 1-5 minutes in total
• Deploy on low to medium-volume processes – high-volume processes should merit their own IT investment (such as a dedicated business application or module)

Silicon Republic did an interesting piece on RPA at Bank of Ireland which is worth watching as it gives a further sense of what is involved – watch out for the “bee” branding:

McKinsey’s research estimates that over 60% of all occupations have at least 30% of their activities that are automatable. Automation will also be essential to deliver the productivity required for future productivity growth, particularly as employment growth will slow drastically on account of population aging.

Read the McKinsey paper executive summary here.

And just for fun, the coolest robot ever – a clip from the 1986 movie Short Circuit…



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