The need for digital transformation has been accelerated by COVID-19 and the pace with which enterprises have embraced digital technologies during the pandemic is unprecedented. Businesses have moved at lightning speed and taken actions swiftly to pivot in order to optimize their key processes and core operations to manage the disruptions while the pandemic looms large.
Need for digitization and digital transformation had the mandate and the “BUY IN” long before the pandemic hit us in early 2020 and many organizations were already on this path of transformation. Current disruption has brought these initiatives to the forefront which is evident by the rise in investments that are digital in nature.
Leaders and CXOs across industries have accelerated their plans to invest in technologies like automation, artificial intelligence and robotics to better manage operations, improve productivity despite prevailing economic downturn.
According to IDC’s 2020 Supply Chain Survey – 72.8% of respondents responded that robotics will be important or very important to their organization in the coming three years and nearly 28% of respondents to IDC’s 2020 Supply Chain Survey ranked “improving supply chain resiliency/responsiveness” as a top concern driving strategic change in their supply chains. It predicts that by 2022, firms will dedicate 35% of their logistics business process outsourcing services budget to process automation, focusing on order, inventory, and shipment tracking.
There is little doubt in the fact that COVID -19 crisis has brought multiyear acceleration of digital technology adoption. The success of enterprises particularly in supply chain and logistics industry, would be defined by their agility to embrace automation to stay competitive and be future ready. A major drive in the digital transformation process has been industry leading technologies like Intelligent Automation which is nothing but a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
Intelligent Automation and Robotic Process Automation
Intelligent Automation (IA) is a combination of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies which together empower rapid end-to-end business process automation and accelerate digital transformation. Intelligent Automation harnesses new generation technologies like RPA , machine learning (ML), computer vision and natural language processing (NLP) to automate critical business processes, thereby bringing transformation across the entire organization.
RPA as explained by UiPath, a leading automation enterprise software company, is a software technology that makes it easy to build, deploy, and manage software robots that emulate humans actions interacting with digital systems and software. Just like people, software robots can do things like understand what’s on a screen, complete the right keystrokes, navigate systems, identify and extract data, and perform a wide range of defined actions.
In logistics Industry, automation and digital technologies such as RPA and AI can be well integrated to achieve the speed, efficiency and resiliency needed to meet complex market demands . These industries have over dependence on manual processes across their entire supply chain operations and are still managing their core operations with pre digital processes that are manual , slow and human intensive leading to process inefficiencies and higher costs.
How enterprises in supply chain and logistics industry can benefit from RPA and IA
In uncertain economic environment, organizations are increasingly looking at enhancing productivity and efficiency, reducing operational risks, and improving customer experiences , all at the same time while keeping the cost at a minimal . This is where Intelligent automation along with RPA could be leveraged and used to its full potential as they help to automate manual tasks by removing repetitive, replicable, and routine tasks with intelligent BOTS.
RPA and Intelligent automation can have a valuable impact on the organization’s digital transformation initiatives. Here are some of the significant benefits that RPA brings on table:
- Process Automation: Logistics and supply chain industry vertical is heavily reliant on manual rule-based processes and their workforce spend significant amount of time managing documents such as bills-of-lading, invoices etc. which involves repeated entries in multiple legacy system leading to delays and error. RPA tools can help to capture, store, and extract data/records/files from unstructured sources. RPA tools help to save significant time and money by reducing human interaction and greatly increasing the processing speed
- Speed & Accuracy: One of the major challenges for businesses in these industries is to streamline and automate processes like invoice processing, payment collection, order tracking etc. These business processes are linked across multiple systems and require regular check ins and follow-ups thereby make it slow. RPA and IA helps to reduce the risk of transactional error by using bots, who serve as digital workers, helping to reduce process cycle time by almost 50% or more , thereby bringing accuracy to routine tasks and complex procedures.
- Enhanced Customer Service: The logistics industry is increasingly facing stiff competition and tighter margins across their service lines. Enhancing customer service and responsiveness will go a long way to retain their customer base. RPA can automate the entire customer onboarding process and serve as an extended digital workforce team (software robots) and can work 24/7 giving continued service without disruption, working efficiently and less prone to errors thereby enhancing the customer experience.
- Better Compliance –Logistics, freight and shipping companies have to follow many international regulations, trade policies and global compliance rules ,thereby increasing the work complexity and hindering their agility . With RPA, organizations can automate compliance tasks and digitize processes which would enable their employees to focus more time on tasks which are critical for compliance issues . Intelligent automation can be used to digitize compliance procedures like verifying export and import documents, ship vessel certificates and insurances.
- Overall Productivity – Digital Workers can be enabled to handle more complex routine tasks which are rule based thereby helping employees to focus on value add activities using their knowledge and expertise . Enterprises in logistics, transportation and supply chain sector can leverage RPA along with technologies encompassing AI, ML , NLP to optimize operations across functions like – warehouse management, invoice processing , procurement and inventory management , demand and supply planning , thereby enhancing their overall productivity .
Enabling digital transformation in supply chain and logistics industry
Organizations are increasingly using robotic process automation (RPA) and other intelligent automation technologies to address new business and market pressures stemming from the pandemic, but a people-centric approach is still critical to success in the future of work. This is the conclusion found by a new report conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of RPA company UiPath.
The results of the survey showed that the pandemic has expedited digital transformations and created a surge in automation investment.
With 48% of survey respondents planning to increase RPA spend over the next year, companies are using RPA to:
- Increase agility, diversity, and resilience in their supply chain operations (83%)
- Address extraordinary cost pressures by automating back-office and operational tasks (80%)
- Support remote workforces (75%).
It is fairly evident that investments in these futuristic automation technologies is imperative to keep a steady workflow, maintain productivity, improve customer service to sail through in these turbulent times.
UiPath, a leading enterprise automation software company, offers a true end-to-end automation platform, combining the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solution with a full suite of capabilities that enable every organization to rapidly scale digital business operations. Automation is critically important for enterprises that need to accelerate digital transformation and better support employees and customers with the help of software robots. At Total e-Biz solutions, we partner with our customers in their digital transformation journey and constantly seek to empower our customers with innovative technologies like RPA and hyperautomation. We design and implement industry leading integrated intelligent RPA solutions across industries and functions with applicable market- leading solutions to significantly improve internal value creation processes.
With impending COVID-19 crisis, organizations have been forced to make the abrupt shift to carry out business virtually, both with internal and external stakeholders. This is the right time to embrace digital channels to engage with customers in a new way and move quickly to create customer value at low cost. Enterprises who are futuristic and want to bring agility across their functions will look at investing in new platforms and tools like Intelligent Automation and RPA and do the overhaul of legacy systems which are manual and cost intensive.
Would you like to understand more about the potential of RPA for Logistics & Supply Chain and few relevant use cases ? Drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and our RPA expert will be happy to connect with you!
UiPath and Total eBIZ along with LogiSym, co- hosted a free live webinar on July 8th on” Building agile supply chain with RPa and intelligent Automation for logistics industry . Click here to access the recorded webinar !