3 minute read
Feb 1 2019

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Technology has been influencing our lives for some time now, and it will keep effecting us more and more as time goes on. At the beginning many people saw the simplification of work as the biggest advantage of technology. The demand was there, so lots of software creators saw an opportunity. Because of this sudden large amount of software tools available, the attempt of simplification often ended up in a complex IT landscape, that caused inefficient processes with the risk of flaws and inconsistencies. In retrospect, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the ultimate integration wizard that helps companies to streamline operations through the automation of processes.

RPA can be described as a minimally invasive technology for fully automated handling of rule-based business processes by software robots, keeping mundane tasks from employees so they can focus on value-added work. Although the software robots are derived from technology, RPA thrives on a functional methodology. RPA can only show its full potency if the non-technological environment of an organisation is taken into account. This requires proper analysis of business processes, and an end-to-end approach that also covers your employees’ work life after implementation.

Virtual workforce working alongside human workforce will change the operational model. It will dismiss the human workforce from repetitive tasks, enabling them to allocate more resources towards efficient and customer centric operations. And what is most interesting, RPA does it without making any fundamental changes to the IT infrastructure.

Some of the RPA benefits

#1 Enhancing customer loyalty
With fierce competition, companies need to keep up with operational tasks, while at the same time providing outstanding service. This is where Robotic Process Automation comes in. RPA can take over the repetitive operational tasks, so the human workforce can pay more attention to the customer. And besides that, robots can work 24/7 and get work done sooner, decreasing throughput times for customers.

#2 Reducing costs
Many organisations have processes that crisscross systems. Organising and preparing the tasks that are incorporated in a process is often done by the human workforce, which is very time consuming. Knowing that 30% to 60% of business processes are eligible for automation, makes RPA really attractive in terms of salary expense reduction – especially when companies want to upscale activities. Besides this, software robots can replicate tasks and do them more accurate and faster, preventing additional cost due to errors and waiting time.

#3 Improving processes
RPA has the potential to improve existing processes; the key is close collaboration. The implementation of proficient software robots requires a competent RPA partner who knows how to analyse business processes. An expert will streamline the processes and make them more efficient. This consistency that RPA offers makes such close collaboration even more important. Because there is a risk when something goes wrong: A programmed robot will copy any error in a process, turning a flaw into a widespread issue.

#4 Timely integration
When companies are ready to scale, often they will build new systems. Developing new software takes up to a few months at least. RPA has an implementation time of four to eight weeks.

#5 Flexibility
Nowadays demand can shift quickly. With RPA you always have virtual employees available to act upon changes in demand. During peaks in demand, organisations can easily scale up by putting more bots into service. Of course, this requires a user-friendly tool, like the AM Composer.

Intelligent Process Automation (IPA)

Although RPA can create tremendous scalable value for organisations, you can even get more out of it when you upgrade to a more sophisticated version: Intelligent Process Automation. IPA is highly advanced through the usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML), like we applied to PIA, our personal interactive assistant. To illustrate the difference, let us explain the different types of virtual assistants (software robots).

The doers

The doers do exactly as they are told, but lack the ability to adapt to previous experiences. They are derived from Robotic Desktop Automation (RDA). The downside of a doer is that it is implemented on a user’s desktop, keeping an employee from working while the robot is processing.

The learners

Opposed to doers, robots can be inquisitive and multiskilled. Take our research bot Robot-Chat as an example. These bots monitor and interpret employees activity precisely. As soon as it has obtained enough knowledge, it will start completing these tasks autonomously. This is the level of RPA where machine learning, a mild form of AI, turns it into Intelligent Process Automation (IPA).

The thinkers

The thinkers are the future of the process automation future. This combination of Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings about huge growing possibilities. This type of process automation bots will self-learn and deal with both structured and unstructured data.

A successful RPA journey

The key ingredients to a successful RPA journey are identification, understanding and documentation of processes. RPA optimisation depends on three factors: the exploration of all the suitable processes, the execution of proper process analysis and identification of all process variants. This sounds relatively simple, but these are steps that need to be executed right.

 

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