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UK finally sees automation success as 6 in 10 UK businesses invest in RPA and process mining

The UK is making great strides in adopting process automation technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) and process mining, according to new research from digital intelligence company ABBYY.

The research report, The State of Process Mining and RPA, found that 64% of UK businesses are already using process mining technologies, with almost 3 in 10 (28%) currently using RPA and a further 34% intending to start in the next year. This comes as no surprise, since a vast majority believe that process mining (91%) and RPA (87%) are, or would be, useful to their business.

UK taking advantage of new technologies

These figures represent a big shift in the UK rapidly advancing its automation maturity – in last year’s research, 28% of those not using RPA said they “wouldn’t know what to do with it”. This move towards a business landscape that puts process automation at its heart, a ‘process economy’, is already seeing UK businesses reap the rewards.

A huge 9 in 10 UK businesses use technology to understand and act on their processes, revealing that processes are key to automation success. As a result, a quarter of UK businesses (25%) have seen success with every single automation project – the highest number compared to the US, Germany and France (average 21%) – while 9 in 10 UK businesses (89%) have had success with over half of their projects so far.

Lack of understanding and scepticism holding UK back

However, the UK is not yet ‘process perfect’ – despite 86% of UK businesses believing their staff follow business processes ‘rigorously’ or ‘mostly’, and 0% saying this ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ happens. Almost half of those who have failed on automation (47%) found it was because of a lack of understanding of the process they wanted to improve, and only 15% said they had a “deep understanding” before embarking on projects. This suggests that there is a knowledge gap for the 34% of businesses not yet using process mining.

Scepticism of RPA is also a factor in the UK, with business leaders wondering if it is worth the investment (31%), and being nervous about the new technology (12%). These nerves are markedly higher than in other countries: 0% of confident French decision-makers shared the same concerns, with 0% of US decision-makers being nervous about RPA.

This chimes with the pressure faced by UK businesses when automating their most important processes. In banking and FS, improving financial decision-making is seen as the most helpful use case for RPA (45%) but is also proving the most challenging to automate (43%). In insurance, improving customer experience is causing the same headache: 41% believe it’s the hardest to automate, but a majority (52%) see it as the most pressing.

“To avoid a slowdown in automation success and achieve ‘process perfection’, UK businesses need to know which processes to automate and how to automate them,” comments Neil Murphy, Global VP, ABBYY. “To do this, they need the right intelligent technologies that can do the job for them. Investing in technologies like process mining gives businesses a 360-degree view of how their business operates, where processes are creating bottlenecks or delays, and where they’re making great work happen. However, without having oversight of and insights into these critical processes, there is no point starting transformational (and expensive) automation projects – it would be like flying from Heathrow to Sydney with no fuel in the engine.”

“Real-time insights into your processes – how they work, and crucially how they don’t – is the only way to make a real success of automation,” Murphy adds. “The more businesses that plug into their processes, the more we can power the process economy – and the more successful the UK’s digital transformation will be. A digital intelligence platform that works alongside every existing automation platform, providing critical, real-time insights, is the best way for businesses to achieve this.”

To assess process mining and RPA trends, ABBYY conducted a global survey of 400 senior directors, MDs, owners and C-Levels with decision making capabilities within their organisation. Survey participants were from organisations with 50+ employees and were located in the US, UK, France and Germany. Respondents represented six industries: banking/financial services, government, insurance, healthcare/medical, logistics, and transportation/distribution.

Opinium Research executed the survey in March 2020.