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Scepticism over whether robots can understand business processes

At a time where some really intelligent people are expressing fears over intelligent robots, the worst thing you can do is tell a bunch of scientists that robots THAT smart can't be made.

Yet, that’s pretty much what shared services professionals said when they were polled by robotics and automation specialists Redwood Software, together with Shared Services Link, the online community for finance, shared services and outsourcing leaders.

Out of more than a 100 polled, 67 per cent said they plan on using robotic process automation in the next 12 months, 52 per cent agree that they can “understand basic finance processes”, while just 51 per cent believe they can “replace human activity to be performed by robots end to end”.

Currently, 27 per cent are using robotics, and they are saying improved process efficiency, improved data accuracy and improved FTE productivity were the biggest benefits.

Among those that aren’t really fond of the idea, the biggest excuses are ‘not sure on return on investment’, and ‘don’t have the technical expertise for implementation’. Almost a third fear ‘RPA will lead to job loss in general’.

“When we talk about robotics, we are no longer talking about plugging in ‘dumb’ machines to mimic human activity at the user level, but integrating smart technology with built-in understanding of the end-to-end process and best practice,” said Neil Kinson, chief of staff, Redwood Software.

“Businesses are also right to be looking towards their core ERP and sub systems as they integrate robotics, to scale robotics without the overhead of managing desktop sessions, maintain integrity across the entire process, and deliver the most comprehensive audit trail. However, for as long we remain fixated on the idea that robots replace humans – rather than re-imagine processes – businesses will be led to miss the true potential of robotic automation.”

Image Credit: Tatiana Shepeleva / Shutterstock