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The current COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges and amplified existing issues for most organizations. Leaders now have to navigate a wide range of interrelated issues from safeguarding their employees and customers, cash and liquidity management, to negotiating complex government funding systems.

According to the United Nations (2020)1, instead of the 2.5% projected growth, global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could shrink by 0.9 percent in 2020.  This leads to heightened business uncertainty illustrated by the results of a recent survey conducted by SSON (2020)2 wherein 52% of business leaders are ‘highly concerned’ about the impact of COVID-19 on global delivery operations. Two-thirds of the participants in the survey have in place some form of work from home (WFH) arrangement for their staff to cope with the lockdowns and quarantines across the globe. On the other hand, 29% stated that their connectivity and security infrastructure is not sufficient for remote work.

Remote work comes with its own set of challenges.  Poor equipment, lack of digital assets to work remotely, uncomfortable accommodation and poor wireless connections are just some of the issues that affect the delivery and support of critical businesses activities and services.

To counter some of these difficulties, now more than ever, businesses across the globe should start embracing digital technology and invest in robotic process automation (RPA).  Despite the challenges of integrating bots into their existing workforce, businesses are finding that the benefits are increasingly harder to ignore.

RPA introduces digital labor into organizations to carry out tasks to augment human labor in completing highly advanced work.  With RPA, the new normal means relying on automation to deliver the work accurately and efficiently without being reliant on hiring more workers that will need additional training to perform the same work. Based on a research conducted by KPMG LLP (2018)3, “McKinsey research suggests that smart robots will replace more than 120 million workers by 2025; and, Gartner predicts that by 2020, smart machines will be one of the top-five investment priorities for more than 30 percent of chief information officers.”

Adopting RPA provides businesses an opportunity for cost-cutting and for achieving higher production rates. Large-scale implementation of RPA can significantly impact both costs and performance of business operations.

Furthermore, RPA is readily accessible and has the capacity to produce a major change in the cost structure of an enterprise thus enhancing sensitivity to the demands of internal clients. It will also guide companies to use analytics and machine learning tools as part of a wider path, integrating data from around the company to enhance processes, occupancy rates, service quality and workforce experience.

Today is the future. Now is the time to accelerate.

References:

1 United Nations. (1 April 2020). COVID-19 likely to shrink global GDP by almost one percent in 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2020/04/covid-19-likely-to-shrink-global-gdp-by-almost-one-per-cent-in-2020/.

2 SSON COVID-19 Survey Results. (4 April 2020). “COVID-19: Tip of the Iceberg for Tectonic Shifts in Shared Services Delivery?”. Retrieved from: https://www.ssonetwork.com/global-business-services/reports/covid-19-tip-of-the-iceberg-for-shifts-in-shared-services-delivery

3 KPMG LLP. (2018). Automation in procurement: Your new workforce is here [PDF]. Retrieved from: https://advisory.kpmg.us/content/dam/advisory/en/pdfs/future-procurement-workforce.pdf

Doris Aura B. Pastoriza is a Senior Manager from the IT Advisory Group of KPMG R.G. Manabat & Co. (KPMG RGM&Co.), the Philippine member firm of KPMG International.

This article is for general information purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice to a specific issue or entity.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG International or KPMG RGM&Co. For comments or inquiries, please email ph-kpmgmla@kpmg.com.