What digitization could do in the Corona crisis
There is one good thing about the Corona crisis: a look at the positive effects of digitization to date at systemically important companies.
The COVID 19 crisis is presenting companies and people with unprecedented challenges at work as well as in their private lives. Almost all companies worldwide are affected by this crisis and some are even on the verge of insolvency. While some companies are still looking for solutions, others have already found them: digitization. This article explains two Robotic Process Automation (RPA)-automated processes in systemically important companies that are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.
The COVID 19 crisis is presenting companies and people with unprecedented challenges at work as well as in their private lives. Almost all companies worldwide are affected by this crisis and some are even on the verge of insolvency. While some companies are still looking for solutions, others have already found them: digitization.
Although Germany, unlike other countries, is not one of the leaders in digitization, we will see a major change in this area in the coming weeks. In this context, this crisis can even be seen as a kind of wake-up call, because digitization can help enormously in many areas, especially at the moment. As quickly as the virus is spreading across the country, we can probably also expect to see digitization among companies in Germany.
It is particularly important to make progress in digitization in systemically important companies, as we all benefit from progress and an increase in efficiency. Many companies that have to meet a greatly increased demand due to an essential supply at the moment are digitizing and automating their processes. This is not only a benefit for the respective company, it is especially beneficial for the customers.
However, it is now necessary to react quickly in order to be able to act as efficiently as possible in the next few weeks, which are so important for our society. A quick and easy way to digitize is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). In the past few weeks, RPA has also been used in the healthcare sector and has quickly achieved great success in the fight against the virus.
Basically, RPA is used in companies to automate existing, primarily frequently repeated processes. This is becoming more relevant than ever in times of the Corona Crisis, where either fewer staff are available or a company is faced with greatly changed challenges. If you are not familiar with RPA, you can read a short introduction here.
Faster test results in the laboratory
It’s a busy time in virology labs around the world. Every day, thousands of people are tested for the Covid-19 virus. One of the most important measures to contain the spread. Every minute counts in this procedure, as tested people should of course be informed of their test result as soon as possible. Currently, it takes about 3-4 days to receive the result after the sample has been taken. Much too long – if you think about tested persons in system-critical professions, who cannot do their work for a while after a sample has been taken.
The use of automated processes with RPA in virology laboratories in the USA has already led to a significant improvement in processes. If you look at the processes in these laboratories, you will see that in the USA, for example, a considerable proportion of the laboratory staff’s activity is used for data collection and communication of the results to the central reporting authorities. This is because the systems for recording infection numbers in the event of a pandemic in the US were developed in 2009 during H1N1 and there has been no need to update them since then. The processes are correspondingly cumbersome. A VPN connection to the central data center of the health authorities is required and the data from the test systems must be manually transferred to the health authorities’ systems. This takes up an unnecessary amount of time for a lab’s staff and is also prone to errors.
This process has been fully automated by RPA vendor UIPath at a U.S. testing lab, resulting in time savings for lab staff of 2-3 hours per day. The development time for this process was minimal. This is a good example of how a great advance in the fight against the virus could be achieved with little effort. (Source)
Improved hygiene and disinfection articles production
The respiratory masks and disinfectants that are so important at the moment have become a scarce commodity. Not only for private individuals, but also for medical personnel who are particularly dependent on them. Replenishment is running at full speed, but a large number of processes in companies are not prepared for this increase in demand. This is where digitization has already been able to make a big difference.
A Chinese manufacturer of hygiene and disinfection articles for hospitals was faced with a sharp increase in the number of customer inquiries. In the past, for example, around 1,500 orders had to be transferred to the system and processed each day. At present, however, there are over 16,000 orders per day, all of which have to be processed as quickly as possible.
The administrative staff responsible for processing these orders were not prepared for this dramatic increase and were therefore no longer able to process the orders in a single day. The company recognized the need for action and decided to automate this process by using RPA. This reduced the workload by over 80% by automating the transfer of incoming orders from customers into the ERP system.
The company was able to make a big impact for itself and for the hospitals that desperately need the disinfectant and hygiene products with little effort. Another benefit – the automated process can, of course, continue to be used after the COVID-19 crisis and will therefore save the company time and money in the future.
Digitization not only offers relief for companies, but also a benefit for our society by helping to contain the spread of the pandemic and protect people.
We face many more challenges in this crisis, but again, digitization and automation of processes with RPA offers companies opportunities to master the current situation and even emerge stronger.
The previous two examples have shown how the just-as-important system-relevant companies have been able to use digitization to their advantage.
But what about the companies that have hardly any orders or none at all? How can digitization be used in the home office and how can a sale continue despite closed stores? I’ll get into that in my next article. If you want to see beforehand how quickly the digitization of a process can be implemented in a company, you are welcome to take a look at my article with a practical example of the use of RPA here.