Robotic roll-outs reap results says Deloitte

Ninety-five percent of organisations that have implemented robotic process automation (RPA) say the technology has improved productivity, according to Deloitte’s fourth Global Robotics Survey.

In addition, 93% of those that have implemented or scaled RPA say it has improved compliance, 81% agree it has reduced cost and 77% say it has provided better management information.

The research, based on responses from 530 business leaders across organisations with combined revenues of $3.5 trillion, analyses market trends and emerging practices in Robotic and Cognitive Automation.

More businesses are recognising the productivity benefits of RPA rather than simply implementing it for cost-cutting measures. Only 5% of businesses implementing RPA are just doing so to reduce costs, compared to 21% of businesses who said the same in 2017.

Deloitte’s research has found that two thirds (67%) of organisations have now begun implementing a strategy for RPA, an increase of 18 percentage points year-on-year.

There has been a significant uptick in support for RPA implementation among those who have implemented or scaled RPA, with 81% of business leaders in these organisations now supporting the use of robotics, up from 72% in 2017. Additionally, 68% of managers and team leaders are supportive of automation, compared to half who said the same in 2017.

Justin Watson, robotics and cognitive automation lead at Deloitte, commented: “Robots are increasingly becoming a fixture in the workplace, and the value which they bring is now being felt by the vast majority. The challenge now will be for robotics to be scaled effectively in order to truly show their worth in boosting productivity as well as reducing risk, increasing revenue and improving the experience of both customers and employees.”

Struggling to scale

Despite the uptick in support, organisations are struggling to scale RPA as anticipated. Just 4% of organisations are now operating more than 50 robots, a negligible increase from 3% in 2017. Twenty-seven percent are either piloting RPA with under 10 robots or have moved into full implementation with between 10 and 50 robots.

Respondents cited process fragmentation, the wide variation of offline and online tasks involved in processes set-out to be automated by robotics, as the main barrier to achieving scale (32%), followed by lack of a clear RPA vision (17%) and lack of IT readiness (17%).

Watson added: “Few organisations have been able to scale robotics quickly, with many struggling to move beyond early experiments. Workforce behaviour needs to change in order to recognise the benefits of robotics and the potential boost to productivity.

“We’re now at a stage where the pace of robotic deployment has the potential to accelerate rapidly, but to fuel this, organisations must have a clear vision, strategy and approach to automation.”