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Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Is Replacing Human Workers, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a category of software that operates in a “robotic” manner to repeatedly complete basic tasks that might otherwise have been done by human workers.  Examples include editing electronic files or forms and checking them for completeness or accuracy.  This technology is being widely applied to back-office tasks in such departments as human resources, insurance claims and expense reimbursement.  RPA has very broad implications for many types of office work.  Artificial Intelligence (AI) is dramatically accelerating this trend.
Amelia, formerly IPSoft, Inc., an automation software company, developed a white-collar robot named Amelia that is used for help desk, customer service and a variety of other call-desk operations.  The unit speaks 20 languages and has the appearance of a young, blonde blue-eyed woman.  Allstate Insurance Co. uses Amelia to handle most of its in-house IT service desk requests.  The company’s call-center employees use it to help them solve customer inquiries faster and more efficiently.  Telefonica also uses Amelia to handle 4.5 million customer calls per month.  Amelia launched the Amelia HyperAutomation Platform and custom consumer facing avatars, as well as Amelia v4 and for cloud-sourced pre-trained digital employees.
Accenture Strategy reported that less than one-half of global companies’ accounts payable activity was automated as of 2019.  This kind of automation is expected to rise to 80% by 2025, particularly in the areas of invoice processing and expense reports.  For example, Airbus SE recently invested in software from AppZen, Inc. to automate expense report processing.  The technology matches reports against a database of accepted vendors, expense types and amounts to find anomalies.  It also checks for receipts and is capable of recognizing more than 100 languages.
The banking industry is spending an estimated $150 billion annually on technology including RPA.  An industry analyst at Wells Fargo estimated that all U.S. banks in total could cut more than 200,000 jobs between 2019 and 2029.  The analyst expects artificial intelligence to reduce mortgage processing costs by 10% to 20% while cloud-based computing will also yield major savings in expenses.  Global banks, such as UBS, are also following this trend, investing heavily in labor-reducing technologies such as RPA.
Amazon has introduced many new cloud-based call center tools.  One utilizes artificial intelligence to assist call center agents in answering questions quickly, while another speeds the customer authentication process.  Amazon Web Services offers Amazon Connect, a cloud-based contact center product, that enables customer services over voice and chat; manages follow up tasks; and provides contact center automation services.
Meanwhile, SmartBots, including the ability of tools like ChatGPT to write intelligent answers and search results on-the-fly will soon go far beyond writing essays and providing customer service.  These tools are now providing great assistance in the accounting, consulting and market research fields, including work in writing proposals, researching law and regulations and finding facts.  Product suggestions and search results on websites, such as those of retailers like H&M or Saks, may become significantly more effective thanks to incorporation of these AI tools.  This will lead to systems that literally act as virtual salespeople, which will boost revenues at retailers and also increase customer satisfaction.  The ability of these tools to study massive amounts of background and reference data (machine learning) could lead to virtual teachers, counselors and business professionals in the not-too-distant future.  For example, students could ask for auto-generated textbooks tailored to their specific, personal needs and interests.  (Virtual tutors may be the first step.)  Business owners could query virtual human resources SmartBots, deeply immersed in legal material—even specific to specific job types, state jurisdictions or management problems.  The owners could obtain guidance on how to deal with (or even dismiss) problem employees.
The net result of the growing use of RPA will be a significant reduction of human employees.  This will be particularly true in call centers and other BPO (business process outsourcing) centers.

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