RPA- Allowing Humans to be more Humans

Updated: Oct 28, 2019

Malaysian universities seem to be producing a constant stream of graduates in all sorts of discipline to cater towards national economic growth. However, the current unemployment rate which stands at a worrying 3.3%, with youth employment 3 times higher, is indeed alarming. Where does the problem lie? Is our education system to be blamed? Most of us would answer YES immediately whenever this question is posed. However, have we ever looked at Malaysia’s productivity problem from another angle? Have we ever considered why is employee turnover rates so high in the first place?

Malaysian graduates did not pay tens of thousands of Ringgit to obtain a university degree, just to secure a desk job which requires them to copy and paste data from one program to another. Worse still if the legacy IT infrastructures lack integration and require new hires to skim through multiple Excel worksheets to ensure the completeness of data integration. We, humans are blessed with critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills, yet, forcing our graduates to perform these mundane and repetitive tasks is simply a waste of resources and too expensive.

There are simply too many companies in Malaysia who are still relying on server-based accounting systems which have been implemented 10 to 15 years ago, which is pretty much installed on every employees’ desktop. The rigidity and inconvenience caused by these old accounting systems are enormous, considering the younger generation nowadays demand for better work life balance. These systems are not only slow, they are extremely difficult to automate. As a result, companies are hiring an army of graduates to carry out tasks that should be completed by a computer. This literally means copy and pasting data from an external document to an internal system to update their master data, moving data from one folder to another or manually building financial models to churn predictive financial analysis.

Robotics Process Automation (RPA) could simply be the answer towards Malaysia’s low productivity. As repetitive and mundane tasks are automated, staff are redirected to perform more value-added tasks, analyse and problem solve to create more value for the business. Accountants should no longer be seen as bean counters and Finance Departments should work towards being a ‘profit centre’.

Businesses might be terrified at the thought of a large-scale finance transformation project, thinking that a large capital expenditure would further dent a hole in their ever-shrinking budget. On the other hand, employees would be resistant towards the thought of it, worried that the bots will take over their jobs and soon displace the need to hire them. This huge misconception should be corrected. With proper change management and some process improvement, the intangible benefits gained by companies is abundance as employees will feel more motivated after being freed from the shackles of repetitive tasks. Employees will be starting their careers higher up on the value chain, providing them with an opportunity to outshine their counterparts who started their careers doing these boring, simple tasks.

With a highly educated workforce, it is the right time for Malaysian companies to harness the advantages of RPA. Emerging technologies might cause a certain level of disruption in the short term but the knock-on effect of higher productivity will see many more jobs being created in the future.

How does Finance and Finance Shared Services (FSS) manage the technology enablers of Robotics Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Finance Analytics and Blockchain?

Join us at the upcoming AGOS Finance Summit 2019 to find out!

Date : 9 & 10 April 2019

Venue: Connexion @ Vertical, Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (An event brought to you by AGOS Asia)

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