By: Mauro Schiavon, Americas Lead Alliance Partner and Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Leading enterprises are highly kinetic—dynamic, resilient, and seek opportunities to drive business value using the latest digital technology. Today, many companies are embracing robotic process automation (RPA) to drive value by freeing staff from manual and repetitive tasks.
In fact, Deloitte is helping finance organizations combine the power of RPA along with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to perform essential but non-core tasks previously done by humans. That is translating into finance teams closing the books faster and handling accounting exceptions in an entirely new (and highly beneficial) way.
According to Deloitte Insights’ 2020 report, Automation with Intelligence, 78 percent of organizations globally have already implemented RPA, and 16 percent plan to do so in the next three years. But RPA’s potential goes beyond simply replacing human effort in specific tasks. Organizations that are implementing automation at scale are re‑envisioning how work can be done, which means they can achieve radical change.
One reason financial leaders believe RPA is valuable is that it saves money. Deloitte’s report found that organizations expect an average cost reduction of 24 percent over the next three years in the areas they are targeting. But more mature organizations have moved away from a strategy of simply reducing headcount. Instead, they’re using the technology to increase workforce capacity. Ninety percent of executives say they expect their automation investments to increase their workforce capacity over the next three years. These kinetic companies know that technology can provide the data and analysis to inform human decision-making, but it can’t yet replace humans as decision-makers.
Business resilience comes from the ability to respond quickly and intelligently to shifting conditions—especially significant and unexpected events like COVID-19. Automation frees people so they can work on critical activities that bots can’t do: interpreting data, addressing issues, and interacting with other people—including customers, vendors, and counterparts.
In the finance function, RPA is already proving its value with:
Companies that try to develop their own AI- and ML-driven systems are often stymied by the complexity involved; do-it-yourself machine learning projects require hard-to-find and very expensive, highly trained data scientists. Enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, like modern cloud-based ERP systems, offer a better way, building in RPA and other forms of intelligent automation across the platform. These capabilities can be continually updated, augmented, and integrated throughout the solution. Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP and Oracle Fusion Cloud EPM, for example, take advantage of advanced automation across the technology stack:
And this is just the beginning. SaaS platforms facilitate the uptake of new automation capabilities without the need to upgrade, patch, or purchase additional software. This lets companies reap value from advanced technologies faster than ever before. In the end, the best technology is that which frees employees to focus on rewarding work that drives the enterprise forward.