Robots both fascinate and worry at the same time. Who didn’t look with admiration at the last Boston Dynamics robots to perform a back flip, (I always dreamed of getting there) or felt uncomfortable seeing them co-operate to open a door like Raptors in JURASSIC PARK?
Get ready, because we are now seeing Robots in Finance Departments. They are faster, work around the clock, make fewer mistakes and do not go on vacation. How do you integrate these new “employees” into the Finance Department and what types of tasks can be entrusted to them?
What is a robot?
In general, a robot is a device designed to automatically perform tasks imitating or reproducing, in a specific field, human actions. The term robot appears for the first time in the play (science fiction) of the author Karel Čapek: RUR (Rossum’s Universal Robots) . The word was created by his brother Josef from the Czech word “robota” which means “work, work, chore”. A robot is a “virtual” work force that can take the place of a human to perform a set of simple and repetitive tasks executed hundreds or thousands of times a day. This may involve handling parts in a factory or copying information from an ERP to an Excel spreadsheet.
Robots and Digital Transformation
You will not realise your digital transformation with robots. A digital transformation project consists in capitalising on new technologies to radically transform its processes and even its business model. With robots, the idea is not to transform existing processes. Rather, we are on a tactical approach of replacing a person within an existing process. We will seek to achieve productivity gains and limit errors on tasks that are very repetitive or poorly adapted to human activity.
RPA: The next big thing?
Did you like Big Data, Blockchain and AI? Here is the new star 2018: the RPA.
RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is a special type of robot. It is a software program that reproduces the actions of a human being interacting with the user interface (UI) of a computer system. This is a very different approach from traditional forms of integration that typically rely on application programming interfaces (APIs). RPA does not replace other integration methods, it complements them. RPA is a kind of last mile of automation because it allows you to interface with “closed” systems using existing screens.
What is the place for robots in the transformation of my financial processes?
When you read the headlines, you sometimes have the impression that one technology is chasing the other. RPA has been making a lot of “noise” for a few months as it automates tasks that have been neglected so far. So there will be a hunt for “robotic” tasks in the coming months. That said, APR remains a tactical approach to integrating with “closed” systems. If you are initiating the digital transformation of the process of processing your supplier invoices, you will find solutions to automate this end-to-end process until integration into your ERP. Unless it is completely closed, in which case we will be able to use APR to automate the last mile.
This article was originally published in the magazine Finance & Management. It is used with due authorisation.
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