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Exponential Productivity: Why IRPA Is Here to Stay

This post was originally published on the SAP Analytics blog.

 

Businesses everywhere are using IRPA to become more efficient. Intelligent Robotic Process Automation, or IRPA for short, is a technology that allows computer programs to simulate otherwise manual processes in a calculated, repeatable, and dependable way.

Not only are these computer programs able to complete structured tasks like performing calculations, following if/then decisions, and analyzing data; they’re often able to finish them faster than humans can. This means that employees can focus on the more nebulous and creative aspects of their role, like exception-handling and problem solving, instead of spending time on tedious, labor-intensive tasks.

The bottom line: IRPA enables businesses to do more with less, and it has the potential to increase overall productivity exponentially.

However, the use of IRPA raises some questions. How can we build IRPA standards that benefit both humans and robots? It’s become a buzzword in today’s business world, but is IRPA just a fad? And, when robotic technology is used to solve business problems, how much of a human-touch should remain integrated into the solutions?

In the February 2019 episode of the Game-Changing Predictive Machine Learning Radio Series, host Bonnie D. Graham leads a panel of three IRPA specialists who tackle these questions and more.

The panel features the following experts:

  • Jean-Baptiste Burin: Program Manager, Customer Experience at Axa
  • Julien Kopp: Director, Deloitte France
  • Philippe Poux: General Manager, Contextor (now a part of SAP)

You can listen to the replay of the show online. For now, here are the highlights.

Robots Are Not Scary

Thanks to Hollywood, we often associate robots with danger. However, as Philippe points out, throughout history we’ve seen new technology consistently raise our standard of living. Julien agrees, saying that we’re better off when we integrate our work with machines. Just as we use power tools to cut down trees, businesses can use IRPA to get more done in less time.

Jean-Baptiste points out that IRPA enables the workforce to be more human, because the automatization allows us to take advantage of our soft skills.  When the cash register was first introduced, for example, stores could hire cashiers based on their customer service skills rather than their calculation speed.

Philippe sums it up best with the statement: “The robots are here to ease the pain.”

IRPA Is Not New

IRPA is not the latest trend in business technology, nor is it a passing fad. Jean-Baptiste was working with business process automatization software a decade ago, and he predicts that he’ll be working with the same ideas a decade from now. Philippe agrees, saying that the innovation hasn’t come from the automatization technology—that’s not new—but rather how we use it. True innovation comes from changing the way we understand work, and how we can help workers become more efficient.

Julien adds to this, saying that the future will come from dynamic, intelligent technology, which will adapt without programming.

Automatization Pushes Boundaries

Referencing the magical character from the 60s sitcom Bewitched, Philippe remarked that “We all dream of being able to clean a full room like Samantha.”

We already delegate a portion of our household duties to our dishwashers, dryers, and Roombas. Automating chores is just the beginning—imagine what this kind of automation will do for businesses.

Julien agrees. “This idea that you can do things that you haven’t done before is extremely exciting, because you have no limitations,” he says. “You can really push the boundaries of what’s possible.”

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