Who falls behind, misses out?
Get to know the world of automation from the viewpoint of our RPA expert colleague, Sándor Salamon
26. 10. 2022.
Sándor joined our company during the summer as the head of the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) group. For a layman, the evolution of technology can be a real challenge, an opportunity or a threat. We were curious to know the potential this rapidly evolving solution carries and why it’s worth pursuing at a corporate level. We also asked Sándor about his personal motivations, professional and team leadership challenges.
Tell us about the beginning: how did you get involved with eNET?
When eNET offered me a team leader position, I saw the professional challenge and opportunity for change, so I was immediately interested. Since it was a good fit from the start with both Zoltán Hajas, Head of Sales Support, and the Partners, I decided to join the company due to the nature of the challenge and the effect of positive impulses I received at the firm.
What was your job previously?
I was responsible for the sales and delivery of IT business solutions. However, I wanted to change from that direction and focus on the implementation of IT solutions.
You mentioned that you come from the IT sector: but more precisely, how did you get involved in RPA and why is this area exciting for you?
I got to know RPA at my previous workplace, where my knowledge in this field deepened. It is so interesting to me because it is a technology with so much potential, but without any buzz around it. By the help of this solution, we can understand the internal processes of businesses and make them more efficient. It is always multifaceted, never monotonous, as we gain insight into different industries during our work. Moreover, the sense of achievement is quick as well: in the case of two- or three-month long mini-projects, the fast, spectacular results fill you with satisfaction. Of course, some long-term projects can take years to complete and present different sets of challenges.
More and more companies provide RPA solutions in Hungary, and eNET has also set up a dedicated team within the Sales Support Business Unit. What are your impressions at eNET and how is RPA related to the company’s activities?
The owner-partners of eNET Internet Research and Consulting Ltd. have immediately shown their trust and support in all areas, which is very decisive and motivating for our team. Also, eNET has an excellent team of professionals, and the entire company is supportive of bringing across this solution.
The company’s activities are focused around IT/ICT and its mission is to facilitate the digital transformation of companies: the RPA service provides a complementary solution for this. Our RPA team was set up in-house in recognition of the significant need to improve the efficiency of certain processes on the part of our clients − for whom we provide some of our services − and RPA is an excellent tool for this.
Could you explain what it’s like to work in a team and what your responsibilities are as a team leader?
Our team consists of several different characters, which is our biggest advantage: we complement each other to form a whole. It’s necessary for us to work in harmony, because „teamwork makes the dream work”, it is an essential for success. I would say that everyone feels comfortable in their own position, which is important to me because if we enjoy what we do, it benefits everyone.
My job is to make sure that the whole process is transparent for the team members, from the request, to the delivery. As the team leader, it’s important for me to actively take part in the activities: by having an overview of the subtasks of the projects, I can coordinate the whole team with ease, in addition to being responsible for time management and work efficiency.
What challanges you the most in your position?
I have to fulfill several roles at the same time, which is probably the most prevalent challenge. What is crucial for me is to correctly identify and develop the team dynamics, so I try to take into account personal motivations and who is effective in which tasks, and which type of tasks are the most suitable for my peers. Furthermore, it is my responsibility to properly inform them about their „to-dos”.
Since I have always worked in a team, I know for a fact that establishing harmony among people with discrepant viewpoints is a critical criteria for any successful project.
What is required for successful automation?
That the involved process is standardized and works with digital data. Of course, the robot can be adapted to new conditions and needs in the future, as it is easily scalable, so there is no obstacle. But it is not worth doing adjustments every week or every month, because it goes against the automation process.
We use the UiPath’s robot software, because as a market-leading solution, it has the most complex range of tools and provides help in our work at all phases of the automation journey − from process assessment, through development to implementation.
Could you briefly summarize why it is important to use this solution at corporate level and what advantages does it bring for those who want to use this technology?
One absolutely outstanding aspect is that anyone who uses RPA can get to know the operation of their company from a completely new perspective: by examining the ’status quo’, it is possible to find out how certain processes can be optimized.
We place particular emphasis on the discovery phase because only those processes can be successfully automated that are standard and do not change frequently. In this step, it may even turn out that some areas of the company’s operation are not efficient enough. Our task is to offer solutions for these as part of process improvement. The first step is therefore the assessment, followed by the optimisation, then the documentation and the proposal, after which the development and the implementation of the robots can take place.
What are these proposed solutions useful for in practice?
To identify which processes can currently be effectively replaced by a software robot. But even for the optimization of the current operation, to find out for which processes it is worth starting the automation, and to get information about the Return-On-Investment (ROI).
RPA can be seen as a solution that makes processes and working activities more efficient. Nevertheless, in addition to the benefits, can you highlight some of the limitations as well?
The biggest barrier can be lack of openness and willingness to develop within the company. The most difficult task is to accept that the operation of the company is not completely ideal. We tend to think that everything is running smoothly in our own backyard, but an outsider can see opportunities that we had not thought of before. This is where it makes sense to involve a consulting company that looks at the workflows from a completely different perspective.
The software robots’ capabilities are limited by the requirement that processes must be standardised. That’s why we place particular emphasis on the fact that every process − from the business, financial and development side – is specified from the zero milestone, because if we automate something that is not based on a certain rule, it can’t be efficient.
It is also important to not be afraid of new advancements! Especially in Hungary, the term software robot is associated with negative traits. But it is key to know that in our case, the robot does not exist physically. Rather, we should imagine a digital workforce that, although it is not possible to have coffee with it, can take on the tedious tasks that we would not like to do − such as administration − and is capable of carrying out all the operations that take place on the user interface or in the backend. What is more, to make it easier to get used to the presence of robots in your company, you can also name them.
There is often a concern that they are not safe to use, but the robots’ code is known only by the person who has loaded it in, so if anything happens, you know who can be held accountable. The issue of verifiability can also be a significant aspect: the robot logs its activities, thereby making it possible to retrieve all its completed tasks.
With the use of software robots, some human workforce can be replaced. What do you think: will this lead to a significant change in the labour market, or should we accept that this is the future? Although the freed workforce can be reassigned to more valuable tasks, there is a high chance that many workers will lose their jobs as a result.
There are several possible ways to answers this question. I like to say that this service is a supplement to human workforce, not a replacement. Mainly because it does not necessarily require human resources, but rather only replaces those processes in which ‘so to speak’ have no value, are monotonous and not enjoyable. I would like to quote the UiPath slogan: “I hate it, automate it.”
For a company manager, the possibility of saving workforce and therefore costs by using a software robot is a significant consideration. It is also necessary to emphasise that the robot will always stay with the company and will not be offered a better job elsewhere.
The fear of modernization among workers is somewhat justified, because static, repetitive workflows are becoming replaceable. However, with the successful application of new technology, they can focus on more value-adding, creative tasks.
What do you think is the key to RPA’s success in the domestic and international markets?
The success is multifactorial: COVID-19 has helped the digital revolution significantly, especially in Hungary. RPA is primarily related to the banking and financial sector − this is where its history begins − because many manual tasks have to be performed in that sphere.
In which areas is RPA currently gaining ground with success? Is it possible that in the near future we will see Robotic Process Automation in many other areas of life?
The banking sector leads the way, alongside telecoms. They are constantly working to learn, test and deploy the latest technologies as quickly as possible. However, if companies do not use these innovations, they will fall behind those who do, and sooner or later they will be out of the competition.
But this new technology is also relevant in many other areas: for controlling, automating outgoing invoices, or when developing webshops or supplementing systems. Its use results in more transparent operation and more predictable resources in all sectors.
How do you see the practical application of RPA progressing abroad? Which countries are at the front?
From this point of view, America stands out. In the US, the credit card appeared earlier as well, whereas in our country we tend to wait because we are averse to the new. But we already use the RPA technology, we see its possibilities and know what can be achieved with it. There is an growing demand for its use, and the number of people who can pay for this service is also increasing – the technology has become more affordable in parallel with its development.
Is this a service that has a fast return?
The ROI period depends on several factors, including the complexity of the process, the number of systems involved, and the time required to assess, develop, test and implement the process. These criteria largely determine when the invested amount will return. Overall, it can be said that compared to the development and integration of a completely new system, the implementation of RPA is much cheaper and pays-off faster.
How can RPA be used in practice to improve customer satisfaction?
Improving customer service experience is the most commonly mentioned advantage in this case, but there are several other areas as well. When ordering online, it is common to receive a faulty product. If you want to report this to the company, but the customer service cannot handle the complaint because it is overloaded and does not have the capacity to do so, it will result in dissatisfaction.
However, a software robot – even a smart chatbot – can take over this task because it truly understands your problem. Adequate quality administration also results in satisfaction on the part of the customer, who thereby becomes committed to the company. Their trust is also increasing because they respond quickly to the problem and have a positive experience, making them a potential customer in the future. By applying a software robot, the error factor of sending a problematic product to the customer can be remedied.
What do you think is the value of the RPA service?
The fact that it can create value in different ways in each sector. In healthcare, the priority is not saving time, but reducing the number of errors. For a company operating in the economic market, cost savings will be primary, while for a delivery company, time is an essential aspect.
There is also another crucial factor beyond savings potential: RPA is a flexible, scalable service that can be easily managed, which allows resources to be successfully optimized.
Find out more about eNET’s RPA Service and its possibilities by clicking here!
Interview by Dorka Vass