Every new tool solves one set of problems and creates a new area of concern. Digitization of data has been an explosive force for productivity and advancement, but it has also created its own new roster of mundane work roles. Through the years, customer-service operation has become more and more powerful, with advanced functionality provided by increasingly digital tools. That’s clearly a good thing, but it also means that your customer service team is spending a lot of time moving from one application to another, filling in the same information in multiple places, re-entering data, or copying and pasting.
Studies have shown a typical customer contact might require your representative to interact with half a dozen different applications. Your agent can get a lot of important tasks accomplished with the help of those applications, but it’s anything but simple. At the very least, all those manual processes are a recipe for inefficiency. Dealing with them is a source of boredom and dissatisfaction for employees. And it’s a situation that’s ripe for errors. So, why send a human to do a robot’s job? Why waste a good human mind on mind-numbing work that requires little or no analysis and no subjective judgment?
Robotic process automation (RPA) uses the latest software technologies to automatically handle computer tasks that are highly structured, routine, and repetitive. For tasks that are largely driven by rules, schedules, or events, a robot can take the wheel and get the job done.
Typical back office employees, in fact, spend up to 80 percent of their day on such mundane activities. These workers are filling in forms, making repetitive calculations, and processing orders — all things that are vital for customer satisfaction but tedious for employees.
RPA hands such processes off to a robotic workforce. This workforce is precise and accurate and immune to boredom. It can also be scaled vastly more easily than a human workforce. RPA can perform just about any complex rule-based work and can do so through interaction with any software application or website. It’s a robotic connection to the human world of the computer user interface.
Just what kinds of desktop activities can be automated? You name it. If a human can do it, a robot
can in virtually the same way.
RPA isn’t a replacement for the human customer-service workforce. It’s ideal for tasks that require no human intervention —tasks that are often referred to as unattended. Plenty of tasks require a human connection, but in many cases at least a portion of the work can also be automated through RPA — such tasks are known as attended tasks. Most important, there are many other high-value activities that need your employees’ brainpower, and that happen to be a whole lot more interesting for them. RPA lets software robots optimize your business processes, leaving the humans more bandwidth for the high-value needs.
Robotic Process Automation is made up of a number of technologies, brought together under one toolkit to be deployed as and when needed for different automation purposes, Even Though RPA has a long and storied history dating back more than 50 years. One of the first steps towards the innovation which would eventually lead to the creation of RPA was Machine Learning (ML).
It’s widely credited that the name was first coined in 1959 by Arthur Samuel, a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence who at the time was working for infamous computer company, IBM.
Machine learning started as a scientific endeavor aimed at creating artificial intelligence. Today, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are spawning a new phase of automation what we call as intelligent automation. Intelligent automation is changing the way enterprises operate by using advances in technology to optimize processes, personalize customer experiences and enhance decision making. Intelligent automation incorporates recent advances in technology to manage and improve business processes automatically and continuously.
Constituent components of intelligent automation include:
Today RPA is considered to be a significant technological evolution of this technique in the sense that new software platforms are emerging which are sufficiently mature, resilient, scalable and reliable to make this approach viable for use in large enterprises
Since Robotic Process Automation is a software category that provides an easy-to-control ‘digital workforce’ of increasingly intelligent software robots that informs, augments, supports and assists people in the automation of rules-based procedures and tasks. Over 1000 forward-thinking, global organizations are positively transforming their workplace operations — driven by both human and digital workers working in tandem — and seamlessly interacting with and orchestrating existing and new applications. The factors which are currently fueling RPA adoption in the real world are value creation, productivity, improving the customer experience and generating new opportunities.Other key RPA imperatives now include higher quality operations, greater workforce agility and more actionable data for customer insights.
Industries that adhere to strict regulatory or compliance requirements are using RPA to improve execution too. For example, the banking and financial services sector lead in RPA adoption as they seek to automate processes already locked down by regulators. Efficiency, cost cutting and risk reduction drivers also make RPA a perfect solution for these organizations.
Other sectors such as, telecoms and pharma, where organizations’ core business operations possess significant, manual-driven processes – are rapidly implementing RPA solutions as well.
With all the hype about the advance of robotics, people can be forgiven for thinking that robots are on the verge of making humans redundant in their work environments. The term jobocalypse has even been coined to describe this anticipated revolution. It conjures up an image of mass displacement of human labor. Certainly, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has advanced significantly over the past few years, but there is no jobocalypse in sight. Experts see a different reality: While Rapid Automation (RA)—or, more simply, “robotics”—reduces the need for repetitive human effort, there are still distinct limitations to the types of work in which it can be applied.
In 2014, not many businesses had hundreds of people banging away at computers to do routine tasks. At many businesses, most of the processes they take on are fairly complex. Identifying the pieces that can be completely automated is the first step, but the bigger part of the job is to reorient the workforce around tasks that require judgment. When you take on an RPA project today, you’re changing the nature of the work; as such, you need to balance automation with decision-making ability. RA solutions are helping to drive development of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. Initially, the industry was based on labor arbitrage, scaling, sizing, offshoring, cost-cutting, and economies of scale, but it has evolved. Today, it delivers business impact by improving process quality, using concepts like Six Sigma. The third phase that we’re seeing now is focused on emerging technologies like RPA, mobility, cloud, big data, and advanced visualization. When these elements are used in combination, they help improve efficiency by providing a new layer of engagement to the client environment.
When applied with this systematic approach, robotic automation offers considerable potential for addressing key pain points in traditional “system of records” technologies, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Still, there are limitations to the usability and impact of robots. Prospective users need to recognize which types of transactions can be performed well by robots, identify the appropriate sphere of intervention, and form effective plans for using RPA in a rapidly changing environment.
RA differs from more direct types of automation. It interacts with different software systems at the level of the graphical user interface or presentation layer: the same level as a human user of the system. Existing systems can therefore work together more efficiently, because RA performs some tasks faster and more reliably than humans do. This shifts human effort away from routine processing functions and toward managing exceptions and optimizing business processes. One principal advantage is that RA links existing systems without requiring their direct integration. Instead, it applies a variety of familiar user interfaces, such as ERP systems and Microsoft Office documents and databases. Today’s RA systems are more accurate and flexible than employees are; they improve security and compliance, and are available 24/7. While it’s critical to identify which processes are the best candidates for RA, robotics should be seen as just one component of endto-end process improvement. To get the maximum value of RA, the natural place to start is with the global process owner, or the person with overall responsibility for an end-to-end process
As robotic automation matures, three principal factors will drive business impact: