NEW DELHI :
With the coronavirus pandemic prompting people to stay indoors, the need for automation in enterprises has grown substantially. While traditional use cases, such as banking, still remain, companies in the government, healthcare, education and MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) sectors are seeing faster adoption of automation to stay afloat, said Manish Bharti, president, India and South Asia, UiPath, a robotic process automation platform. Edited excerpts from an interview:
How have enterprises used automation to pivot during the current challenges?
While enterprises have long dealt with strategic risk management and business continuity planning, very few anticipated or planned for the difficulties that an event like a pandemic creates. Given the steep rise in covid-19 casesand the lockdown, managing the sheer load of work and processing the same became crucial pain points. By using Robotic Process Automation (RPA), companies and the government are solving these challenges by bringing agility to their operations.
Additionally, as remote working protocols continue to be a dominant trend and social distancing norms push companies towards automation, it has given relief to their overburdened teams. Many are now assessing the power of cognitive RPA in managing work.
The pandemic has also disrupted or stressed global supply chains. It is expected that this will compel business leaders in retail, manufacturing and other conventional industries to start exploring technology.
How has the surge affected costs? Which sectors are seeing faster adoption?
In the scenario of covid-19, the common thread across organizations is to save costs, do more with less, and be conservative, wherever possible. However, the awareness and interest around automation has increased manifold.
Organizations are fast beginning to realize that automation is the way ahead. Depending on the size of the companies, different models have emerged. Smaller companies prefer a moratorium or deferred payment, larger organizations that have already invested in automation are expanding their usage of bots prudently, and other organizations prefer a pay-as-you-use cloud model.
While automation has always seen momentum in verticals, such as BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), manufacturing, retail, telecom and media, now governments, healthcare, education and MSMEs are turning their focus to it in a big way.
Is the existing workforce ready for the increased use of automation?
Even in a pre-covid world, Indian talent was extremely well placed to capitalize on the fast-growing RPA industry. Currently, there are more than 42,000 HIA (hyper intelligent automation) developers in India with Bengaluru (35%) and Delhi (18%) being the central hubs, according to the study by Zinnov. And, as multiple sectors will adopt RPA, there will be a huge demand for talent in technical roles, including for automation developers and architects, domain process roles like automation analysts, test engineers, support analysts and data analysts, and management roles such as head of automation and CoE (centre of excellence) head. This will create a need for people to also upskill.
Existing office workers, they will definitely face a change in the way they function.
While organizations move towards automation, they will need to get more innovative, too.
Employees are anxious about their roles. To ensure that employees do not get demotivated, employee experience has to be improved. One of the best ways to do so is through education.
Has the increased adoption led to new innovations in the automation industry?
In the last three months alone we have seen many different use cases—healthcare organizations, which are at the front line of this pandemic, are automating the testing and reporting of covid-19 cases; managing grant disbursal, handling loan moratoriums, dealing with high claims and call volumes.
As an example, EY India with UiPath developed an RPA solution for the municipal corporation of greater Mumbai to generate bulk e-passes for service aggregators supplying essential supplies and services to residents of Mumbai, relieving their manual team from investing tremendous efforts in redundant tasks.
Business organizations are now using RPA to monitor their employees’ health, manage employee pass and access management in the post-lockdown world, and scheduling customer queues, pre-servicing orders in a world constrained by social distancing norms.