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British businesses miss out on ROI of automation as only 1 in 4 invest in RPA

British businesses are missing out on the benefits of automation by not combining the right technologies, recent research from Digital IQ provider ABBYY has found. While 19 in 20 businesses have deployed some form of automation, only 1 in 20 use the full stack, meaning most businesses are missing out on the ‘secret weapons’ that could deliver the most ROI for their business.

While automated systems and AI come out as the most popular forms of automation, RPA is the least adopted, with only 24% of UK businesses investing in the technology. However, RPA is bringing unparalleled benefits. RPA is particularly strong on time to ROI – 82% of businesses saw a return on their RPA investment within a year, with 30% seeing a return of at least twice what they invested.

The banking & FS sector leads the way, with 38% of businesses investing in RPA, while manufacturing comes in second place with 23%. Some sectors have barely dipped their toe, with the legal profession for example only seeing 6% adoption. This is despite the huge opportunities RPA brings: a majority of RPA adopters saw improved efficiency (55%), getting ahead of the competition/increasing their market share (52%), and revenue growth (52%), with productivity gains (44%) and business transformation (40%) also realised.

The research also found that combining RPA with content-centric process automation drives even greater results, with 71% of businesses who have deployed both technologies growing their revenue – compared to just 37% for businesses who have invested only in RPA. This combination also led to improved productivity for 51% of businesses (vs. 39% of those using RPA without content-centric process automation) while 49% have achieved business transformation (vs. 33%) and 57% increasing their market share (vs 48%). Again banking and finance lead the way, with 35% of businesses deploying both technologies, compared to just 2% in the legal sector.

ABBYY is calling on large businesses to lead the charge for businesses to make the most of their automation investments. 4 in 5 large businesses (79%) have seen increased efficiency since implementing RPA, and 71% have become more productive. However, only 50% of businesses with more than 5,000 employees are using the tech, dropping to 36% for businesses with 500-4,999 employees.

However, ABBYY customer Costain, which integrated ABBYY’s technology with RPA in an end-to-end solution – that can fetch an invoice, capture, identify and extract the essential data within it, then hand this over to the RPA bot to post an invoice into the ERP system – is seeing the benefit of deploying these technologies together:

“Collaborative work with ABBYY is part of our continued commitment to invest in technology to transform our finance function,” said Tony Bickerstaff, CFO at Costain.

“We will continue to seek to use the latest technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, to make our business as efficient and competitive as possible,” he added.

“Using just one or two types of automation without integrating the tech that will help achieve your goals is at best short-sighted, and at worst a waste of time and money,” said Neil Murphy, Global VP at ABBYY.

“The technologies that can drive enormous improvements for transaction-oriented processes across every sector – particularly in banking and finance and other heavily process-driven sectors – already exist. Some businesses simply don’t have the understanding on why their automation investments aren’t generating the ROI they hoped for. These businesses need to automate with RPA, but they also need to leverage the technology that can automate content-centric processes to make robots smarter with the introduction of new skills.”

“With the availability of more intelligent RPA solutions, such as attended automation, companies are in a unique position to leverage and benefit from automation in ways that were previously unavailable”, said Barry Cooper, President, NICE Enterprise Group.

“Attended automation allows enterprises to scale the RPA footprint to tens of thousands of desktops, overcoming the current low footprint of unattended robots alone. With this combination, our own users are consistently unlocking benefits such as productivity gains, improvements in compliance adherence, growth in sales and superior customer experiences, all in a more rapid manner.”