Businesses that have been operating throughout the pandemic have had to undergo dramatic changes in their business processes due to work-from-home restrictions. The other businesses are preparing to return to a sense of normalcy but are unsure exactly when they should return and to what extent. While there are also businesses that are figuring out if and how they should come back at all.

The global health and economic crises have ensured that there will be uncertainty from a corporate viewpoint, at least for some time. But it has also alerted executives to the areas and workflows that are ripe for implementing robotic process automation.

Automation and transformation
There has been a significant uptake in digital transformation efforts among businesses during the pandemic. Online transactions have increased considerably, as businesses and consumers continue to make purchases via the Web. The demand for cloud-based services has also increased due to the need to support the growing number of e-commerce transactions and home-based workforces.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for businesses to have a mobile workforce and integrate enterprise mobility tools and services. As a result, there is a growing demand for cloud-based communications and collaboration services all over the world.

Automation has emerged as a core ingredient of transformation and has highlighted the need for companies to have a strategy in place for leveraging tools like RPA. Without a well-thought-out strategy, there are chances that a business may overlook certain opportunities that boost efficiencies, a crucial aspect when we recognize that businesses all over are trying to control costs.

Technology has played a major role during the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, RPA has helped to accelerate virus testing, automating clinical testing for the development of a vaccine, centralized health data for medical professionals and supported the increased use of contact centers.

Businesses have struggled to remain in operation due to reduced or limited resources and automation has emerged as an ideal tool for working with these limited resources. Businesses are recognizing the importance of automation tools that can be quickly deployed and significantly decrease costs, support remote workers and build business resilience.

The applications of RPA during the pandemic comprise the exchange of information about COVID-19 and how it spreads, the monitoring of traffic on networks, the management of government loans to small businesses and the processing of purchase orders or cancellations from consumers.

RPA can also be deployed to replace workers that had a front office or back office duties on-site, allowing them to be freed up to focus their efforts on more strategic, innovative projects while they are working from home. This provides businesses with the benefit of completing workloads quicker than they would have otherwise, which in turn, leads to an enhanced customer experience.

Striving for digital maturity
Businesses are pushing to make operations and workflows more efficient. This has led to an increase in interest as well as investment in technologies that automate tasks and processes and allow businesses to save time and costs. These days, the ability to automate tasks within a business has never been facilitated by rapidly advancing technological capabilities.

Due to the conditions imposed by the pandemic, businesses have had to streamline core processes and workflows using tools like RPA to manage repetitive tasks and supporting staff. Currently, the technology is poised for major growth and development to its ability to deliver quick wins.

By all means, RPA is not a short-term phenomenon. In the future, automation tools such as RPA can be leveraged in several new ways as businesses will attempt to leverage the technology and gain from the lessons learned during the pandemic.

The applications of RPA include supporting a rapid increase in demand for products, services and customer support as the economy recovers, enhancing customer and user experience using improved work processes, reskilling and upskilling employees returning to work from layoffs or furloughs and enhancing supply chains through improved resiliency and agility.