Software robots are already at work

June 08, 2015

Software robots are already working long days – or actually nights – taking care of OpusCapita’s customers’ financial and payroll management.

When they arrive at work in the morning, the payroll specialists are no longer faced with the laborious daily routine tasks that previously needed to be processed manually at the beginning of each day. Instead they can move straight on to the next tasks that require real specialist knowledge.

For instance, software robots can track down changes made in salary data and verify employee relationship data by navigating several systems, running logical checks and comparing data.

“Automation of knowledge work is not just a futuristic vision. It is already happening and will have immediate effects. Software robotics is only the first step. Over the next ten years we will see robots that are capable of self-learning and more complex judgment reasoning,” predicts Vice President Petri Karjalainen from OpusCapita’s Ventures Unit.

OpusCapita shared its experiences on software robotics and automation of knowledge work at the Finance Forum in May. The Finance Forum is an annual expert event for corporations’ finance professionals that is organized by OpusCapita.

“Based on our practical experiences and also according to a study that we conducted together with consulting company Eera, we have found that software robots can handle, on average, 40 percent of the tasks within an occupation that is likely to be automated in the first place. In addition, utilizing robotics can lead to 40 percent cost savings. These figures add up to a considerable increase in productivity,” says Karjalainen.

Virtual assistant is like a new employee

The audience at the Finance Forum was curious to find out what it actually takes to implement a software robot. Manager Jaakko Lehtinen from OpusCapita’s RPA Unit (Robotic Process Automation) explained that introducing a robot as a cloud-based service is, in fact, much like familiarizing a new employee with his or her tasks: you need to provide the robot with a clear description of the process and instructions for performing the task at hand, and a user ID to enable it to access the systems.

“A software robot is like a virtual assistant, and it functions like a new employee. First it must be taught the most common and repetitive process. When there is a deviation in the routine, the robot will then need further instructions. When the robot is taught a new rule, it will be able to take care of these exceptions in the future as well.”

“This enables continuous automation and constant improvements to the quality and efficiency of the processes, which in my opinion is one the most interesting features in software robotics,” Lehtinen explained.

According to Lehtinen, it only takes a few weeks to get a software robot to perform a simple routine task in a process. Utilizing a virtual workforce allows increasing automation in the current operating environment, without major IT system projects or integrations.

Whether the task in question is repetitive manual work in finance and accounting, processing of applications, taking care of a routine help desk case or refining massive amounts of data into reports, for instance, the point Lehtinen is highlighting remains the same.

“While the software robot is efficiently taking care of the mundane routine, human workers can focus on solving more complicated problems and improving customer service, for example, which helps to deliver business outcome.”