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Unlocking competitive advantage through predictive analytics

45% of office work can be automated – with robotic process automation (RPA), i.e. machine learning based on data. This predictive analytics can achieve competitive advantages in terms of efficiency and profitability – leading know-how comes from Estonia.

Robots are known as the true workhorses of heavy industry. Their virtual colleague, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), is just getting established. These specialised computer programs perform monotonous, time-consuming or error-prone tasks that would otherwise have to be done by humans. Also called bots, these intelligent software robots automate and standardise repeatable business processes. Their benefits include improved accuracy and precision, reduced errors and costs, and increased efficiency and profitability.

“45% of office work can be automated,” says Andres Aavik, CEO and partner of Flowit, an Estonian company for software quality and work process automation. “This mostly involves work with Excel spreadsheets, routine tasks, data processing, analysis, or manually transferring data from one system to another – all activities that should be automated.”

RPA is about freeing people from mindless work and instead using them according to intrinsic human talents, namely for more creative and value-adding activities in the company, for example, in customer contact or product development.
Andres Aavik, CEO and partner of Flowit

Flowit specialises in developing customised software products for various business areas, such as logistics, production, or automotive. They are built on open-source platforms and libraries, which makes them more flexible in adapting the end product to the customer’s specific needs, and they do not interfere with the customer’s existing IT landscape, so they work non-invasively.

Fewer errors, greater efficiency and profitability with RPA

Bots are better than humans at sifting through unstructured data and detecting and managing errors. That’s what they’re trained to do: machine learning allows them to recognise patterns over time and develop solutions within a defined set of rules. Put simply, machine learning means that algorithms learn based on data. It counts as artificial intelligence (AI) and is seen as one of the most important key technologies of the 21st century. “Machine learning is a highly complex subject,” says Aavik, “and companies can gain a competitive advantage with as little as 70% accuracy in predictive analytics, i.e., predicting future events.”

“RPA is about freeing people from mindless work and instead using them according to intrinsic human talents, namely for more creative and value-adding activities in the company, for example, in customer contact or product development,” Aavik continued. “Creativity and empathy cannot be replaced by machines.”

For the DAX-listed chemical company Linde Group, Flowit has automated the reclamation process with sophisticated self-service environments so that this complex process now runs more efficiently and customers receive a replacement product in less time. For Nexperia, Flowit has automated distribution chain accounting given the huge variety of discrete components, logic devices, MOSFETs, diodes, transistors and ESD protection elements. As a global semiconductor leader, Nexperia produces over 90 billion parts per year and handles a volume of data that individual humans cannot oversee. Flowit has developed five different algorithms that now allow Nexperia to perform 40 levels of calculations.

ICT solutions from Estonia in over 120 countries

“Robot-controlled process automation as a topic is not limited to large companies, however; it is generally considered a key element for a successful digitisation strategy, even in SMEs,” says Aavik. For example, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) was supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their digital transformation – with the “Digital Jetzt!” program until the end of 2023.

In Germany’s SME sector, the need for digital transformation is great. Companies of all sizes have trouble filling vacancies for information and communications specialists. The DESI, the EU-wide Digital Economy and Society Index sees Finland, Sweden and Estonia as the most advanced in terms of human capital to meet these needs.

e-Estonia as a term for a highly networked society also stands for enthusiasm for modern technology.
Leana Kammertöns, Export Advisor at Enterprise Estonia in Berlin

The degree and speed of its own digitisation has earned Estonia a leadership role, so much so that it is generally considered the most digital country in the world. It began in the mid-1990s with the “Tiigrihüpe”, the Tiger Leap program, when administrative and educational systems were digitised and carried over into the industrial environment. ICT solutions from Estonia are used in over 120 countries to implement digitised processes for automation, robotics and mechatronics.

Young Estonians have grown up with digitisation. “Every 10th student in Estonia enrols in ICT, which means information and communication technology,” says Leana Kammertöns, Export Advisor at Enterprise Estonia, the Estonian Business Development Agency, in Berlin. “e-Estonia as a term for a highly networked society also stands for enthusiasm for modern technology.” Estonia is open for business with German companies, says Leana Kammertöns. “Due to identical laws across the EU, legal certainty is given when doing business with Estonian companies.”

The article was published in the journal Elektrotechnik & Automation.

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