E-Handbook:

RPA strategy: A must-have for digital transformation

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Not using RPA amounts to worker cruelty in the digital era

Brace yourself. RPA strategy will soon be part of your IT program if it isn't already. The good news is that robotic process automation frees employees from menial tasks to focus on business goals. The bad news? Some believe RPA software puts people out of work.

It's easy to see why. RPA automates repetitive computer tasks -- the kinds of data processing jobs done daily in countless work environments. RPA tools will outperform humans on following compliance rules, handling customer requests, processing claims, processing payroll and so on. And RPA bots work around the clock. Cost-savings from RPA software in its first year of use range from 30% to an eye-popping 200% or more, experts say. It's no wonder employees whose livelihoods depend on doing these jobs feel unnerved.

This month's SearchCIO handbook lays out in detail how leading companies are identifying RPA best practices for not only choosing the right software but also allaying employee anxiety about automation. For an RPA strategy to work, the employees who do these jobs must be on board. They need to identify which parts of their jobs are best handled by automation and -- given the possibility of business process re-engineering -- weigh in on how those processes can be improved.

One more point: The data keeps growing. As CIOs know, more digital data, more powerful computer power and more sophisticated analytics mean that companies will exploit data in new ways to improve customer experience, develop new products and even generate new business models. But this will only work if employees aren't bogged down in repetitive tasks. As an economist quoted in our first feature story notes, having an RPA strategy is not just about saving labor costs; it's also about saving labor. Employee workloads keep expanding due to the avalanche of data. Not finding a way to offload data processing to software is tantamount to worker cruelty.

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