Stephanie Krishnan, IDC: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Supply Chain

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on individuals and organizations. Impacts are especially pronounced in sectors heavily reliant on physical labor and face-time interactions like the manufacturing and supply chain industries.

Businesses had to rethink their existing processes and quickly adapt to these new circumstances. Amidst the flurry of safe distancing and work-from-home measures, digitization and the automation of manual processes has become more important than ever.  

According to logistics & supply chain thought leader Stephanie Krishnan, Research Director for IDC, there has been an increasing interest in the use of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) to fill in these gaps and reduce personnel requirements.

The latest findings from IDC’s talent survey also shows there was a talent crunch in 2019 before the pandemic, and manufacturing and supply chain professionals were then already looking at automation to fill up the capabilities of physical labor. 

Beyond physical aspects, such technology can also be utilized to ensure timely data synchronization. For example, automated processes can reduce human error in synchronizing data between disconnected systems and ensure that data such as order updates are communicated efficiently to other systems, including the cloud, to prevent any shipment delays. 

Stephanie also wrote an article about the facility operations during and post-COVID-19, and it addresses the application of intelligent RPA to help in the standardization and synchronization of data across systems. This increases supply chain and logistics visibility, reducing the reliance on human labor to keep the system updated and running at all times. 

 Digitalization and automation may not have been perceived as a business priority for some organizations. The current pandemic has, however, demonstrated the importance of technology across all industries, especially in logistics and supply chain. 

We can possibly see this as opportunities to relook at our current processes, eliminate inefficiencies, and encourage innovation within the organization. 

Things have been tough but these times, like most periods of hardship, provide opportunities for companies to innovate. Manufacturers are particularly well placed for doing so. Extending innovation to remote operations, safe distancing, and other considerations to protect workers and their health provides opportunities for manufacturers and industrial organizations to differentiate.

Stephanie Krishnan – IDC Research

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