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Robotics are ushering in a new era of efficiency for finance and accounting

Posted by Shivali Anand

January 14, 2022    |     3-minute read (574 words)

Robotics are transforming the way finance and accounting firms do business. While robotics may still be considered an emerging technology in this sector, physical robotic systems first appeared about 60 years ago, when they began automating production plants. 

Within just a few years, output at these newly automated plants increased dramatically, and human labor changed to a different set of tasks. Now the robots are at it again, but this time, they’re reimagining how companies perform digital tasks.

In the process of robotic process automation, virtual bots execute simple, repetitive activities. RPA can be used for an array of office functions, such as data entry and form creation and filing. 

Once the RPA has been programmed to respond to a "trigger," such as a customer requesting a new bank account online, the RPA immediately begins a sequence of automated operations that would normally take an employee several minutes to perform, and without human error. For example, the RPA would create the customer's file, send them a welcome email, conduct a credit check, and add their name to the banker's follow-up list. 

RPAs can essentially duplicate the labor of people for computer-dependent activities, at a fraction of the expense of hiring an employee. These systems may be set up to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, allowing organizations to handle data and automate processes around the clock. This enables faster order fulfillment, prompter automated responses and fewer customers that receive no follow-up.

Finance and accounting were early users of robotic process automation.

According to a Forrester analysis, 36% of the organizations that use RPAs are in the finance and accounting domain. The financial industry is responsible for 1 out of every 3 bots now in use. RPAs are particularly suitable for these businesses because their streamlined, automated processes help ensure that all regulatory and compliance standards are satisfied.

In a Deloitte report, one bank revealed that it established RPAs for 13 internal processes. In a year, these RPAs assisted with over 1.5 million queries, or the job of around 230 full-time employees but for just 30% of the cost.

RPAs are especially beneficial to finance and accounting firms because they offer:

• A user-friendly interface. RPA systems are designed to be simple to set up, with no coding required. RPAs can usually be set up without the help of a developer.

• Significant time savings. RPA systems can complete data updating and filing tasks far faster than humans. Their efficiency helps reduce processing time.

• Happier workers. Employees may become quickly bored by mundane, repetitive activities. The use of RPAs allow them to focus on more deliberate and strategic activities.

• Higher accuracy. When properly constructed, RPAs are far more accurate than humans. In the event problems do arise, the workflow is easier to audit.

RPAs: What's Next?

The initial setup of basic RPAs is performed manually. The rules and parameters by which the automation is started, operated and ended must be created by a person. These RPAs are based on processes. Advanced RPA systems, on the other hand, learn and adjust procedures over time using artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing and analysis. They're data-driven. 

While a simple RPA does precisely what it's taught to do, AI-powered RPA systems may recognize and recommend process changes over time. Although RPAs are still a relatively new technology, the use of both basic and complex RPAs is likely to spread throughout these and other industries.

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