Organisations have had to rapidly adopt different systems and applications across business silos and groups to keep up with the pace of technology transformation.
This has led to a complex intertwining of legacy systems and architectures that need to be connected to newly adopted digital solutions to create a cohesive and interconnected ecosystem.
This is where robotic process automation (RPA) comes in. It allows organisations to deftly interweave legacy technology with modernised applications and services to overcome system integration challenges and drive forward digital transformation momentum.
Legacy systems are expensive to maintain and slow to deliver value. Research has found that 31 percent of the average organisation is comprised of legacy systems with 60-80 percent of IT budgets allocated to keeping them maintained.
McKinsey points out that only five to 10 cents of every dollar of tech spend goes into business value thanks to technical debt and legacy infrastructure.
A sentiment reinforced by Deloitte which points out that legacy IT is unable to meet the modern-day needs of the business within a fast-paced environment.
The costs and the work required to operate and maintain this ageing infrastructure are not justifiable.
Enter RPA. To get different systems to talk to one another and create a cohesive, interconnected network of data and technologies, the business needs integration.
This can be achieved through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) curated by development teams to resolve specific internal complexities, but this may not always be the best fit for the purpose.
RPA allows organisations to move data from one system to another, functioning as a digital worker that allows for comprehensive communication and integration across disparate systems with relative ease.
RPA processes have been gaining significant ground over the past few years, blending in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to ensure the systems work intelligently.
Many of these processes run seamlessly in the background, empowering employees as they navigate different systems and processes.
For example, an employee could initiate a process in one system and then the RPA, a digital worker, can pick that information up and push it to any other system that’s required. This translates into immediate time and cost savings that transform experiences for both employees and customers.
This is perhaps the biggest value-add of RPA. It allows the organisation to fully realise the potential of its technology stack, both modern and legacy, without compromising on customer service and experiences.
It allows for the organisation to shift system gears, moving faster and more efficiently leveraging RPA solutions that can be integrated at speed. In fact, RPA allows for the business to create and integrate a bot within a week. This is far faster than API development and as effective.
However, as with any technology, RPA is not the cure for all problems within the business so it is key to assess the systems that are being integrated and to ensure the pathways can be correctly optimised. RPA requires clearly defined rules and complex processes may require more expertise and development. There are multiple best practice considerations to ensure that any RPA integration resolves problems rather than adding to them which is why it’s worth engaging with RPA experts who can fully analyse a system and its requirements.
For companies wanting to squeeze out every last drop of value from legacy systems and bypass the need to fully integrate into them with APIs, RPA is the best solution.
This technology can act almost like digital training wheels, allowing the business to assess the integration across legacy and modern systems to determine if the value is there.
It is a smart and capable solution that optimises legacy in favour of modernised speed and efficiency while delivering measurable returns on its investment across customer service, employee productivity and business efficiency.
Ms Njuguna is Automation Engineer, Dimension Data East and West Africa.