Last week the City of Amsterdam received the 2022 Softbot Award for their innovative use of RPA. This award celebrates innovation in automation, with a broad spectrum of use cases from both public and private sector. “A few years ago, RPA was mainly seen as a technology with which organizations started experimenting on a small scale. Now we see that we are in discussion at board level about organizing organizations differently with intelligent process automation.”
The Amsterdam business case mainly focuses on removing repetitive administrative tasks that are usually not very challenging. Removing this work saves the physical employee time, which provides the municipality with a comprehensive business case. Robotization of this process has led to a saving of approximately 1 FTE in the deployment of the physical employee. At runner-up Leeuwarden employees spent four to five hours a day processing payments. Thanks to the deployment of a robot, this has been reduced to less than an hour. Meanwhile, the robot has already processed more than 20,000 payments.
The Softbot Awards were presented on November 17th. This initiative celebrates innovative best practices in automation. Originally only aimed at the government, RPA implementations from other sectors could now also be nominated. Founder Frank Mester of MvR Digital Workforce says. “We saw that the importance of digital employees was increasing. And in addition to showing practical applications of this new technology, we wanted to ensure more knowledge exchange about the practical application, in order to learn from each other.”
Meanwhile, the scope of the softbot awards has expanded, and applications from both the public sector and business were considered. “The jury mainly looks at the way in which digital employees are smartly deployed in organisations. Where is the strength of that digital employee? And just as important is: what are the new applications? Because everyone knows by now that digital employees can process invoices, but in the meantime much more is possible.”
The way in which integration in an organization takes place, and employees are supported in their work by automation, is also part of the selection process. “Are employees on the shop floor involved in the implementation? Are the happy with their virtual colleague? What does it bring to the business? How can the business use robotization for digital transformation and improvement of its own processes?”
At the moment, the labor shortage is the main motivation for deploying digital employees: “There is a lot of work to be done, but the people are not there. That has to be arranged. Moreover, it is important to automate repetitive administrative work, because otherwise you will not bind young employees to you. They want interesting, challenging work. We are now clearly seeing that shift, I think we are only at the beginning of an important transformation.”
Intelligent process automation
He explains: “A few years ago, RPA was mainly seen as a technology with which organizations started experimenting on a small scale. Now we see that we are in discussion at board level about organizing organizations differently with intelligent process automation. At the same time, they want to retain and support people with technology. And robotization is a low-code application in which the business itself can play a major role in the choice of processes, the creation and management of applications. Robotization is playing an increasingly important role in the digital transformation of organizations because you can involve so many more people than just the IT department. That is why it is so important that there is now attention at management level.”