Singapore firms struggle with RPA roll-outs

Almost three-quarters of Singapore business leaders say their organisations are facing difficulties in scaling up their implementations of robotic process automation

Singapore business leaders continue to struggle to scale up their use of the robotic process automation (RPA) across their organisations, even as they understand the benefits of the technology, a study has found.

According to the study conducted by Blue Prism, a supplier of RPA software, 73% of Singapore business leaders are facing difficulties in applying RPA further, while 71% feel more thought needs to be put into its application.

The inability of organisations to scale up their RPA implementations is well-known. An IDC survey of early RPA adopters in the financial sector came to the same conclusion, often because enterprises have been automating tasks rather than processes.

Bill Taylor-Mountford, Blue Prism’s vice-president for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Korea, said to address the challenge of scale in RPA deployments, a centre of excellence can be set up to coordinate the right skills in the company and ensure that its technology team is well equipped.

Organisations must also ensure that their employees are properly prepared to face a change in the way they work, or risk missing out on making real progress. Singapore’s business leaders appear to recognise this, with 83% of them noting that their organisations offer learning opportunities when they introduce technologies that will result in job redesigns.

Blue Prism said these results highlight RPA’s potential to be used as a platform – and not merely a productivity tool – to give local organisations access to intelligent automation offerings.

“As Singapore looks to restructure, digitise and transform its economy to accelerate post-pandemic recovery, intelligent automation is more important than ever in helping organisations create and enhance jobs, save time and costs, improve work quality, and make them more innovative, resilient and competitive,” said Taylor-Mountford.

Still, differing expectations and attitudes towards RPA remain. According to the study, nearly eight in 10 Singapore business leaders believe their employees would trust working alongside a digital workforce, while 44% of knowledge workers are worried about losing their job in the next three years despite becoming more comfortable with RPA.

Nearly three-quarters of local business leaders also believe their employees appreciate the opportunities that RPA will provide. But a smaller percentage of local knowledge workers (65%) are equally excited about those opportunities.

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“RPA is not about cutting people out of the loop. It is about improving time-consuming processes and tasks, thereby freeing humans to pursue higher-value work within the organisation,” said Taylor-Mountford.

“These survey results highlight a growing acknowledgement, from employees and business leaders alike, regarding RPA’s ability to enhance how we work and compete.

“At the same time, there is a need for a strategic roadmap that defines the type of work humans should do versus their complementary digital counterparts, and a clear communication plan to engage employees, rather than leave uncertainty and imagination to fill in the blanks about the fate of their jobs.”

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