The use of automation and artificial intelligence has exploded in businesses all over the world in the past few years. They have been instrumental in cutting costs for businesses and at the same time increasing their overall output thus making them more efficient at managing resources.

A basic overview

Research shows that by 2025, AI and RPA will drive savings of at least $5 trillion for businesses all over the world while replicating the work of 140 million full-time workers.

Before we dive into how these systems are changing the way businesses work, we need to understand what they are, what they do individually and how they are important for businesses to gain an edge over their competitors.

What is AI and RPA?

Artificial Intelligence(AI) is basically how smart software is in terms of its ability to solve a problem in the same way that a human would. In other words, it is software that can analyze, interpret and assess a task and offer solutions. It is almost entirely dependent on the processing of data. AI is very good at finding patterns in data and offering rapid accurate solutions to specific tasks that have been pre-defined, but it doesn’t generalize very well outside of its predefined parameters.

Robotic Process Automation(RPA) in comparison to AI is still in a fairly primitive stage. It can be best described as the use of software with AI to handle high-volume, repeatable tasks that previously required humans to perform. These tasks can include responding to queries, making calculations, maintenance of records and transactions as well as becoming the standard for assembly line production.

RPA technology makes use of different types of software bots that mimic the actions human workers would make. These software bots can be categorized into three broad categories:

1 – Probots – bots that follow simple, repeatable rules to process data

2 – Knowbots – bots that scour the internet to collect and accurately store user-specified data.

3 – Chatbots – bots or ‘virtual agents’ that respond to customer queries in real-time.

How AI and RPA differ from one another

RPA differs from artificial intelligence in the sense that in RPA, software bots must always be provided with solutions that they can then execute. These solutions are in turn given to them by AI because they themselves are not intelligent when it comes to extrapolating data.

These two technologies work in tandem to help businesses become more efficient all the while cutting overall costs by executing repetitive and mundane tasks that would otherwise consume a lot of time, resources and would be subject to a certain degree of human error.

Benefits of using AI and RPA to businesses

Despite being a relatively new aspect of technology, the use of AI and RPA solutions has already resulted in significant tangible benefits to various sectors of financial services, insurance, telecommunications and healthcare clients. These are:

1 – Decreased Costs

Cost savings of 80%-90% can be achieved when a full-time employee(FTE) is replaced by a bot.

2 – Frees up employees for more productive and higher-value tasks

With the need for repetitive and time-consuming tasks nullified, employees are freed up to make more valued contributions.

3 – An increase in employee engagement

Staff is more likely to be engaged and stimulated to perform high-value tasks as they are no longer performing menial tasks such as filling in forms from one system to another.

4 – Reduced human error

There is almost no error in executing tasks as there is no human error or fatigue.

5 – Decreased variability when relating to output

Similar or repetitive tasks are dealt with exactly the same each time without variation from the assigned process which in turn gives maximum output.

6 – Less paper use and wastage

To effectively use Ai & RPA, companies are forced to make all forms of data entered into the system to be digital thus removing the need for overall paper usage.

7 – Increased output

Due to automation, work can be done 24/7 without any variance in quality. Often customers will need to interact or have a query that needs to be answered outside of the typical 9-5 timeline. Ai and RPA facilitate that.

8 – RPA does not require substituting existing IT systems.

An RPA virtual workforce uses all the same systems an employee would use. It simply uses the existing systems in the way your FTEs would.

What are the real-world applications of AI and RPA

Although the use of AI and RPA is relatively new. They have shown a lot of promise already in various sectors of companies. Some of the best applications are in:

1 – Human resources

AI and RPA can automate various HR tasks such as onboarding and offboarding, updating employee information, billing, reporting and analytics.

2 – Customer service

Queries can be answered in real-time. Technology companies can help businesses offer better customer service by automating contact center tasks, including verifying e-signatures, uploading scanned documents and verifying information for automatic approvals or rejections.

3 – Financial services

Companies in the financial services industry can use AI and RPA for foreign exchange payments, automating account openings and closings, managing audit requests and processing insurance claims.

4 – Healthcare

Medical organizations can use AI and RPA for handling patient records, claims, customer support, account management, billing, reporting and analytics.

5 – Accounting

Companies can use AI and RPA for processing general and operational accounting, transactional reporting and budgeting.

6 – Supply chain management

RPA can be and is majorly being used for procurement, automating order processing and payments, monitoring inventory levels and tracking shipments.

While AI and RPA have many benefits, there continues to be a clear need for humans in the workforce. The question is no longer which jobs will be replaced, but rather, what jobs will be redefined, and how? In the future, we can expect most processes to consist of a mix of human and machine labor.