Survey: RPA has room to grow locally

Survey: RPA has room to grow locally

Mr Hara says robotic process automation is a key aspect of digital transformation.
Mr Hara says robotic process automation is a key aspect of digital transformation.

There are signs that robotic process automation (RPA) may thrive in Thailand as businesses gear up to improve cost efficiency and digital transformation, says a leading tech consultancy.

ABeam Consulting Thailand, the local operating unit of the Japan-based consulting firm, released an internal survey that found 13% of SET 100 and multinational corporations in Thailand were using RPA, indicating considerable room to grow in the country.

"RPA has been used in rule-based automation, which is not fully digital labour," said Ichiro Hara, managing director of ABeam Consulting Thailand. "It is a rising trend globally, including Thailand."

The technology keeps evolving through a combination of optical character recognition, natural language processing and artificial intelligence, making it smarter. The technology should be more widely available in the market soon.

ABeam found that 66% of the surveyed companies had not heard of RPA, while 21% said they were considering RPA but were unclear about the real benefits.

Only 13% had implemented and utilised RPA within their organisation.

According to ABeam, firms that are interested in using RPA face different challenges in implementing it.

The same 66% said they could not find the right actor to take initiative.

The group of 21% said they did not know suitable approaches to start such a project, had difficulty calculating the return on investment (RoI) and faced user resistance.

The final group is struggling to scale up, align with business changes and achieve its RoI target, ABeam said.

"RPA's benefits can be maximised if the businesses have standard processes, as well as the consistency and governance to help control and simplify scaling up," Mr Hara said.

He said the highest-adoption sectors for RPA are banking and insurance, at 70% and 60% respectively. Manufacturing, services, energy, and food and drink are also interested in using RPA.

Reporting, system interface and data input are the top uses for RPA in Thailand, with the top functions as finance and accounting, according to Mr Hara.

RPA -- an automation software for manual tasks that offers fast development and deployment with low costs and quick RoI -- is suitable for typical jobs that consume a lot of working time for employees, rule-driven tasks, repetitive jobs and tasks with a high workload, as well as jobs that are prone to human error.

"RPA is an important part of most organisations' digital transformation strategy, particularly in the financial service and insurance sectors," said Sneha Kapoor, research manager of IDC Financial Insights.

The main reason for the increased adoption of RPA for automating key tasks and decisions is the potential to increase business process and IT operational efficiency, she said.

RPA can cut turnaround time, which means the amount of time taken to complete a process can decrease significantly, Ms Kapoor said.

The rapid adoption of RPA in Thailand among banks and insurance companies stands out in the region, she said.

Financial and insurance companies can achieve cost savings in the range of 30-60%, according to Ms Kapoor.

The implementation time required is also short, usually ranging from six to 12 weeks, she said. Based on IDC research, technology buyers can break even on an RPA investment from 10 months to two years.

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