Why robots are important to SMEs

Robot concept or robot hand chatbot pressing computer keyboard enter

Research suggests that by 2021, there will be over four million robots doing office, administrative, sales, and related tasks. But these aren’t physical robots, they’re digital robots – already living and working on the computers of thousands of SMEs across Australia.

These digital robots work hard behind the scenes to take care of the mundane, repetitive tasks we’re faced with on a day-to-day basis. They are designed to automate some of the simple tasks including copying and pasting between documents, sifting through documents and data, automating payroll processes or even managing customer orders. This technology is known as Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

As the robots manage the repetitive tasks throughout the business, the human workforce is free to focus on tasks that are more strategic and creative as well as add value to their work lives. RPA and automation can have a significant impact on productivity and efficiency, especially for SMEs who are often time-poor and short of staff. Three key benefits RPA provides for businesses:

1. Doubling your workforce

Soon there will be a robot for every worker, meaning that deploying RPA is crucial for SMEs to stay competitive. A robot for every worker means that your workforce is essentially being doubled as robots work side by side with the human workforce. This doesn’t mean taking jobs but eliminating the parts of the job we hate so employees can help grow the organisation. Additionally, using robots can empower employees and improve their level of satisfaction at work. Particularly for junior staff members, this allows them to do more meaningful work and help them progress their careers. For example, junior staff members are typically assigned more repetitive tasks. By offloading many of these tasks to a robot, they can work on tasks that add value across the organisation, such as consulting or analysis.

2. Robots are reliable

A key benefit of deploying robots across SMEs is that they don’t get distracted, fatigued, or misunderstood. They execute a repetitive process accurately and efficiently, leaving the human workforce to focus on what they’re good at and enjoy doing. The reliability offered by robots is especially important for SMEs who may be under resourced or not well equipped – robots won’t take time off for sick days or go on holidays. They can continue to work 24/7 after the human workforce has gone home for the day.

3. Future proofing your organisation

One barrier when it comes to deploying robots across SMEs is the lack of robotic literacy, meaning employees may not be skilled in managing robots or understanding the technology. But as robots are becoming more widespread across organisations, we need to make sure our Australia SME workforce is qualified to use robots to stay competitive on both a local and global scale. UiPath is dedicated to democratising the technology and has set a goal to train one million people on the technology over the next three years. From children in schools, straight through to senior executives. In Australia, we’ve launched a free, open and transparent training resource to educate people on robotic process automation technology, known as UiPath Academy. We’re also working to train students in universities, schools and government agencies on the technology with our Academic Alliance program.

As robots become more commonplace, it’s important for Australian SMEs to understand the benefits that robotic process automation can add to their business. Business owners need to consider the repetitive tasks that are dominating their employees’ time and understand how these can be easily automated.

Andrew Phillips, ANZ Managing Director and Vice President, UiPath