Tech Quarterly

Essential automation insights from Q1 21

In this Automation Tech Quarterly

The rise of automation looks set to continue after adoption by businesses was accelerated by the pandemic. With financial services flagged as an industry that could benefit from greater automation, the technology is supporting the decommissioning of nuclear reactors and could even play a role in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

5 minute read

Tim Ferguson

Tim Ferguson

Content Manager

March 2, 2021 4:18 pm

1. RPA momentum set to continue in 2021
Gartner reported that spending on RPA software will hit $1.5 billion this year – a growth of nearly 20 per cent – and continue to grow by double-digit percentage terms for the foreseeable future. Trends will include RPA use cases expanding beyond finance and accounting, and tighter integration with complementary technologies, such as machine learning and process mining.

2. Automation and robotics to support nuclear reactor decommissioning

The UK and Japan have signed a research and technology deployment collaboration agreement to help automate nuclear decommissioning and aspects of fusion energy production. The four-year, £12 million LongOps project will support faster and safer decommissioning of damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan and at Sellafield in the UK using long-reach robotic arms.

3. RPA could boost COVID-19 vaccine distribution and tracking
With a number of COVID-19 vaccines now approved, RPA could help address the major logistical challenge of distribution and administration, especially for vaccines requiring cold storage. RPA could bolster efficiency in hospitals and supply chains overwhelmed by the challenges of COVID-19 vaccine management.

4. Financial services to benefit from RPA
With a need for the financial services industry to evolve, RPA is set to play a pivotal role in task execution within financial institutions over the next few years. According to consultancy Accenture, “with robotics, you automate and build an automation platform for your front office, back office and support functions”. RPA has the potential to transform the nature of work within banks, delivering customer experience improvements, reducing costs and allocating scarce productive resources more efficiently.

5. Automation part of COVID-19 response for two-thirds of businesses

Two-thirds (68 per cent) of business leaders globally used automation as part of their response to COVID-19, according to research by Deloitte. And more organisations are now using automation technology: 73 per cent compared to 48 per cent in 2019. Automation has allowed for “rapid increases in processing capacity, new processes to support the response [and] increasing productivity and accuracy,” according to Deloitte’s head of robotic and cognitive automation practice, Justin Watson.

6. Venture fund to expand use of cloud RPA launched
RPA firm Blue Prism is launching a venture fund to bring RPA technologies to new clients, starting with the Asia-Pacific region. Blue Prism Ventures aims to give companies with little or no RPA experience the strategic and technical resources to deploy AI software agents. The first venture is Blue Vision Korea, a partnership between Blue Vision and tech firm GTPlus.

7. Three automation considerations for 2021

After being forced to react quickly to the new world of business in lockdown in 2020, business leaders need to bear in mind the following considerations around automation in 2021: business transformation will lead investment, staff will need to be retrained as automation changes their roles, and the majority of business will use robots by 2023.

8. SAP unveils ‘low-code’ automation tools

SAP introduced three new automation technologies aimed at attracting citizen developers to its platform. Enterprises are supplementing their central application development groups by equipping business staff with low-code and no-code development platforms and RPA tools that enable them to take on some of the programming workload.

9. NHS to launch flu-reporting bot
Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is launching a flu-reporting bot in collaboration with RPA provider Automation Anywhere. The bot has already saved 2,000 hours previously spent compiling manual reports. As part of the Trust’s mandate to promote health and safety over the winter months, the need for reporting on the number of staff being vaccinated and flu-related absences has intensified.

10. RPA enters the mainstream

RPA has passed the tipping point for broad enterprise adoption as organisations continue to drive digital transformation in the wake of COVID-19, according to RPA provider Automation Anywhere. The Now & Next: State of RPA report found that intelligent automation is growing in popularity, with the majority of companies (63 per cent) surveyed already deploying RPA or actively scaling.

11. RPA developer training programme launched

Open Source RPA startup OpenBots has launched an RPA developer training programme with free training and certifications including all necessary course materials to build and run automated processes. The ‘Academy’ features course sections on the essentials of RPA, developer tools and commands and prepares users for enterprise-grade automation creation and orchestration.

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