Malina Platon, the managing director of Asean for UiPath, says companies that leverage automation technologies will become more competitive. (Photo courtesy of UiPath)

Automation to Help Indonesia Continue Growth Trajectory


MARCH 21, 2019

It’s likely that few business owners in Indonesia today would be able to tell you what robotics process automation (RPA) is. And yet, over the next five years, it will likely be a significant driver of growth in the Indonesia economy. If handled well, it presents a huge opportunity for Indonesia to continue—and even accelerate—its economic growth.

Put simply, RPA is software that mimics human actions, thereby automating repetitive tasks and other low-value activities and freeing up human workers to focus on high-value or client-facing work.

You can think of it like robots working away quietly in the background. RPA has the rare potential to help businesses in Indonesia and other emerging markets become more innovative while at the same time reducing costs.

The reason the technology represents such an attractive opportunity for national-level efficiency gains to Indonesia’s economy is because of its relevance across sectors and industries. It can be tailored to allow individual businesses to decide for themselves which functions and areas of their workforce they wish to automate.

Many touchpoints of the lives of ordinary Indonesians today are already the result of automation, especially in cities like Jakarta. For example, retailers are going all-out on automated delivery from online shops. In airports and airplanes, automation is making travel safer than ever, and technology even has the potential to increase the speed at which business loan applications and credit checks are processed.

Looking ahead, RPA is integral to some of the most exciting technologies that Indonesia's brightest minds are working on today: research firm IDC predicted in January that by 2022, 10 percent of Indonesia’s security alerts will be handled by AI-powered automation, and by 2024 process automation will replace one-tenth of screen-based apps across in the country.

But all of this is just potential unless businesses and governments take action. While lower costs in emerging markets like Indonesia have historically made the move to robotics and automation less of a priority, in 2019 we are seeing that starts to change. We are at a crossroads, the clocks cannot be turned back. 

Indonesia's workers will have to increasingly learn to leverage robots and automation, in some cases entirely leapfrogging old technologies. According to recent research highlighted by the World Economic Forum, emerging economies like Indonesia that had initially low exposure to automation will experience an increase versus developed economies, which had higher exposure, to begin with.

This could change the traditional journey that countries take toward developed status. We know that automation ultimately creates even more jobs and that companies that leverage automation technologies become more competitive and are thus able to expand quicker. We could see Indonesian companies grow faster and employ more Indonesians in higher value roles, training them to be able to handle more complex tasks.

For Indonesia, automation should be embraced. As I mentioned at the beginning, if handled well it presents a huge opportunity, not just to leapfrog old, inefficient and costly technologies, but to quietly and confidently start catching up with some of the world’s most developed economies. That’s something to be excited about.

Malina Platon is the managing director of Asean for UiPath, a New York-based software company that develops a platform for robotics process automation.