In the managed service provider industry, robotic process automation is becoming the norm rather than the exception. In fact, many firms are working both sides of the fence – assisting their clients to implement robotic technology while also leveraging it internally as a tool to maximize efficiency, boost productivity and reduce costs. It can be said that RPA is virtually revolutionizing the industry by eliminating much, if not all, of the manual work associated with IT and business services.
If you’re not yet familiar, robotic process automation (RPA) is robotic software that can be configured to execute repetitive tasks that were previously performed by human workers. RPA leverages a number of innovative technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data and smart machines to be able to mirror IT personnel. There are varying degrees of complexity and performance, from simple scripts and routine tasks to more flexible and sophisticated options, like cognitive RPA, which is capable of learning and adjusting all on its own.
The Business Case for RPA
Currently, those in the managed service provider market – particularly IT and BPO – seem to be taking the most advantage of robotic technology. These companies are using intelligent software to streamline operations, drive efficiency, improve service levels and keep costs at an absolute minimum. This is becoming more and more necessary as the industry becomes even more saturated. Additionally, they are assisting their own customers by introducing and helping to deploy robotics as a tool for automating business processes such as human resources and finance.
The main way robotics is transforming the industry, however, is in IT service delivery. Over the past several years, the technology being employed has dramatically changed, driven mostly by industrialization and other global trends. It’s been a natural journey with artificial intelligence, robotics and process automation at the forefront of change. Even big-name players, like Accenture, are now using the power of RPA so skilled workers no longer have to waste time and resources on repetitive manual work.
Another key motivator behind the widespread adoption of robotics in the managed service provider realm is that of savings, particularly on labor. With globalization, the field of outsourced IT has become as competitive as ever. Only those firms that are able to maximize their output and deliver the most cost-effective services will survive. Additionally, thanks to smart automation, there is less of a need to ship work overseas so managed service providers can instead offer domestic solutions at an affordable price, further reducing labor costs.
The New Face of the Managed Service Provider
One specific area where robotics is impacting how the managed service provider industry is run is in help desk operations. According to one estimate, shifting application support and maintenance requests from human to machine can free up anywhere from 25-40% of the help desk’s availability. RPA can be applied to anything from routine service requests, such as password resets and system access issues to more complex workflows like monitoring and reporting. Software robots can even be configured to handle such critical tasks as monitoring storage capacity and taking corrective action automatically, as needed.
In addition to improving efficiency and cutting labor costs, robotic technology can also provide a much less disruptive option for system integration. This is due mainly to the fact that software robots access and use applications much the same way humans do – through a user interface. The robots can connect to various systems and applications without interfering with the underlying software, making them a programmer’s dream.
Lastly, RPA initiatives are also typically faster and less expensive to implement. In less time, a managed service provider employing robotic technology can enjoy better quality output, faster processing times and enhanced reporting for analytics and audit purposes. And with the scalability to instantly adjust to changes in workflow and volume, the case for RPA virtually sells itself.