How COVID-19 has accelerated the Intelligent Automation Wave

Thought Leadership

February 2021 | Ludovic Nesse 

Covid-19 pandemic has pushed companies to re-organise themselves as they have been faced with disruptions and home working has become the norm. The perception that remote working is inefficient has changed through the multiple lockdowns experienced around the world. Surveys are showing that a great percentage of employees appreciate and favour more and more working remotely, with work from home culture being one major transition that businesses are facing.

This has been a huge accelerator of digital transformations in order to connect with our customers but also amongst employees. It is driving further adoption of Intelligent Automation.

Indeed, organisations are having a deeper look at Robotics Process Automation (RPA) as a tactical automation to replace routine human processes and combine it with artificial intelligence such as machine learning to digitise paper-based processes.  

The RPA software industry is one of the fastest-growing segments in the market.

In a July report, Grand View Research, estimated sales of the RPA software totalled $1.1 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $1.4 billion in 2020. With a compound annual growth rate of 41% between 2020 and 2027 the RPA market is projected to reach 10.6 billion by 2027.

Forrester has also predicted that the RPA market will total $2.9 billion by 2021 and will only be a subset of the $48.5 billion broader Artificial Intelligence cubicle market spend. Today most of the RPA software companies have invested in acquired or building capabilities in related AI software tools, notably process mining and discovery, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) with machine learning, and intelligent Business Process Management Softwares (iBPMS) rule engines.

sources: Adecco staffing & Sciensano

The shift towards remote work and increase in volumes of digital activities due to Covid-19 is generating new opportunities for automation of operational tasks

All industry sectors have been impacted by the Covid pandemic. The majority of 2020 Christmas shopping was done online pushing retail companies and toy shops to quickly be able to treat heavy volumes of requests coming through their web pages. Bank and Insurance customer service is no longer face to face but through digital channels such as emails, web forms, or chat boxes to name a few. All Financial Service companies now have at least over 75% of their employees working remotely. Regardless of the size of the company, this remote working is a huge step for every organisation pushing them to transform their operating models with businesses needing to virtualise their operations leveraging available technologies in the market.

The shift towards remote work provided an opportunity to rethink operations and look at automating tasks. UiPath says it added 836 new customers in the first quarter of 2020, doubling its customer base year-over-year.

The Covid-19 crisis has generated spikes of activities leading organisations to leverage Intelligent Automation solutions. RPA has proven to be an effective automation approach to deal with spikes in volumes as it requires short development time.

  • Automation & the government

For example in Belgium, Flemish Government automated the process that handles the “Corona nuisance Premium” to support Flemish companies in financial difficulty due to the global pandemic. Over 100,000 Flemish entrepreneurs have applied for financial support during the crisis. A robot was checking in various databases whether the applicant is entitled to the compensation by using the Flemish Access and User Management System and automating the approval or rejection of the financial support requests.

Many governments released money to banks to help businesses stay afloat. Banco Santander in Argentina was granted USD $250 million in credit for its customers. Blue Prism digital workforce was implemented in just two days to help Banco Santander approve up to 50.000 clients for loans based on their online application and credit profiles. Once a completed application was submitted, in less than three minutes the digital worker captured the information, loaded it into the bank’s database, authorized the loan funding, transferred the money to the client’s account and completed the process by immediately emailing business owners with good news. Without this RPA solution, 30 people would have been required to be trained in spending all day processing loans.

  • Automation & Insurance companies

Insurance companies are leveraging Intelligent Automation capabilities to facilitate and deal with the spike in claims related to Covid. For example, by deploying bots that pick up a claim from a common queue and check eligibility. The bots help with claim creation, validation, approval/denial of requests including notices, letter generation, and responses.

  • Automation & Global Markets 

Global markets are also experiencing extreme spikes in trading volume because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The S&P 500 has seen an average daily volume increase of around 300% in a month, with some extreme volume days approaching upwards of a 600% increase in volume. This surge in trading volume has increased the burden on operations teams to support the trading activity of their customers. A UiPath Financial Services client has been able to address the increased demand placed on their operations by leveraging automation placed into production prior to the pandemic. For those areas that have seen the greatest spike in activity—particularly trade allocations and reconciliations—additional robot capacity has been able to be deployed to guarantee continued efficiency during these spike periods.

  • Automation & DTCC

The Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC) processes 90 million financial transactions each day and serves as a centralised clearinghouse for more than 50 exchanges and equity platforms. An increasing number of cyber threats, including phishing emails and malicious URLS, led DTCC to seek an innovative solution to address threats and provide the company with a safer and more secure work environment. They implemented an Intelligent Automation solution connecting Blue Prism’s RPA along with APIs and Machine Learning to assess the severity of these threats. These Digital Workers have increased processing volumes, including during peak times, and decreased the risk to DTCC by focusing on near real-time threat analysis happening 80% faster.

Hyperautomation is the next major phase of digital transformation involving the use of an ecosystem of advanced automation technologies to augment enterprises use of human intelligence

All organisations are doing automation as a way to become leaner, more competitive and more resilient. The 3 main reasons to automate being more relevant than ever:

  • Optimise operational efficiency
  • Accelerate an existing process
  • Optimise cost

And this is just the beginning of the Intelligent Automation journey. The market will continue its growth and expand with the emergence and possibility to combine automation technologies such as RPA, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning solutions. “Hyperautomation”, as called by Gartner, is the next step in the journey.

Costumers will implement orchestrated, end-to-end, intelligent, event-driven forms of automation, delivered with an effective combination of automation tools with multiple machine learning applications and packaged software. It will deliver end-to-end automation beyond RPA by combining complementary technologies to augment business processes.



At ::projective we propose free Intelligent Automation interactive labs with already over 100 participants in line for our 2021 sessions. This is an engaging and refreshing way to get back into your Intelligent Automation journey.

Whether you have your own innovation lab or simply would like a lunch ‘n’ learn, please connect and we’d be happy to give your more information or organise a free session for your organisation. And stay tuned for further 3MM regarding Intelligent Automation and AI because more will be published soon.