Are Canadians Laggards or Leaders When it Comes to Intelligent Process Automation?


Both public and private organizations in Canada want to know how they are doing relative to other organizations, especially in terms of robotic and intelligent process automation.

The answer varies by industry. In the financial services industry, for example, many banks are well on their way to leveraging intelligent automation as a strategic tool to improve operational efficiency, reduce cycle times and use the savings from automation efforts to fund transformation initiatives. Outside of financial services, adoption of automation is a bit spotty, and enterprises across industries seem to still be kicking the tires. In the public sector, use of these technologies is nearly nonexistent. 

Still, there is progress. At the recent Intelligent Automation Canada event in Toronto, representatives from an iconic Canadian retailer discussed their progress, claiming that the company’s “significant benefit realization” was not about cost savings at all – but about its ability to leverage RPA technology to increase revenue.

So how do Canadian enterprises stack up against our friends south of the border? General consensus is that we are behind – but not by much. And those who are investigating the use of intelligent automation have an opportunity to catch up. U.S. firms may be more vocal about their progress or more willing to share their automation stories publicly. Or perhaps our reputation as humble Canadians puts us behind. Or maybe it’s our sensitivity about how automation might impact jobs given that our economy is concentrated around a relatively smaller number of big companies in each industry.   


Of course, the jury is still out about the ultimate impact of RPA. Interestingly, most companies that deploy it do not reduce headcount due to their automation efforts but rather repurpose employees to open positions or redeploy them to analytical or customer-facing roles. In fact, early reports suggest that we are building a more engaged workforce since automation has begun to offload the most mundane and repetitive of tasks. 

A retail employee at the Intelligent Automation Toronto event said “I was hired as an analyst, but all I was doing was assembling data and creating reports. Once we automated this work, analysts are now analyzing.” In this case, as with the iconic Canadian retailer, automation is not necessarily about reducing FTE at all but rather about growing the business and – ironically – creating more jobs.

One thing Canadians are learning is that the use cases and benefits of RPA are real. And we need to move faster to capture them. How do you get started and how do you scale?

  1. Recognize the opportunities for automating repetitive, recurring manual tasks in your organization.
  2. Assess their automatability, build a business case, select the right RPA software tool and develop an implementation plan to accomplish “Bot 1.0.”.
  3. Install the software and launch your pilot project(s) to demonstrate success, gather momentum to extend the technology and drive the benefits to the bottom line;
  4. Implement best practices and lessons learned to avoid the pitfalls of others.
  5. Launch your center of excellence and train your team to build bots themselves.
  6. Launch your organizational change management plan to support operational changes, organizational design needs and employee redeployments.
  7. Celebrate success and the newfound agility in your organization’s business operations and improved financial results.