The rise of robotic process automation (RPA) – driven by increased digital business demands – is reshaping the market landscape across ASEAN.
Triggered by requirements for improved productivity, quality and customer services, in addition to costing savings and process engagements, organisations across the region are building out RPA strategies at scale.
Iconic brands include MasterCard, Google, Tesco, Rabobank, LinkedIn and Comcast. This is a segment growing at pace, evident through worldwide forecast spending of US$2.4 billion by 2022.
Closer to home however, CIOs continue to assess the rise of RPA in accelerating transformation efforts.
“The RPA market has been growing in maturity, with businesses becoming increasingly confident in adopting it as part of their technology suite, integrating it with the other emerging technologies, like machine learning and natural language processing, that they are already using,” observed Adrian Jones, senior vice president of Asia Pacific and Japan at Automation Anywhere.
Consequently, Jones said RPA is becoming more intelligent, with software bots optimising processes based on the analysis of data that it is supplied, resulting in smarter decision making and faster processes.
“RPA is also getting integrated within larger digital transformation initiatives within the organisation,” added Jones, when speaking to CIO ASEAN. “Going beyond facilitating and automating specific functions, RPA is now constantly evolving with the integration of data analytics, for continuous improvement to meet the demands of the organisational environment that it is in.”
The significance of RPA for CIOs
In assessing the ASEAN market, Singapore-based Jones – who joined the business in May 2018 – acknowledged that RPA will “undoubtedly” impact job functions, including the role of the CIO.
“As we know, the CIO’s role now spans charting the strategic direction of the company through leading digital change management,” he said.
The World Economic Forum predicts that digital transformation will drive US$100 trillion in value for businesses over the next ten years, and according to Jones, “CIOs often stand at the doorway of this change”.
“Going forward, the opportunity for CIOs will lie in stewarding automation within their organisations, by bringing innovation priorities and technological implementations to the table, while working with their leadership teams to ensure their workplaces are equipped to harness digital technology and its benefits effectively,” he explained.
“This will translate into impacts on a business’ customers, and workforce, which will, in turn, affect business growth – a vital performance indicator that modern CIOs will be measured by.”
Upskilling the workforce
For Jones, RPA will increasingly come to the forefront in the ASEAN technology landscape and be a focus for businesses in 2019 and beyond.
“Technology has made it possible for software bots to work side by side with employees today, where they do much of the repetitive work with near-zero error rates, while dramatically reducing operational costs,” he said.
“These world-class intelligent digital workforces support improved business efficiency and more importantly, a more enriching and empowering work experience for human workers by making work more human – deepening employee engagement in the process of eliminating manual tasks and enhancing value-added skills.
“We are already beginning to see this in workplaces all over the world, including corporations like Google, LinkedIn, ANZ, and Digi, that we work with. Organisations are starting to recognise the value of these disruptive technologies that are changing the relationship between human and machines to become more productive and efficient.”
Automation Anywhere is approaching one year of business in Singapore, the vendor’s regional headquarters, following a signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Institute of Technical Education Singapore, designed to equip students and full-time staff with RPA expertise.
“Our priorities for the next year will be to continue extending our reach in the region through pursuing collaborations across even more industries and the public sector,” Jones added. “We will also look into introducing more product innovations that are relevant to the regional market and its business needs.
“On an organisational front, we will be looking to expand our team by attracting more great talent able to communicate the business value of RPA and AI to customers.”