What is Robotics Process Automation?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a software robot or application/tool that can be configured to perform tasks normally performed by a human, using rule-based processes.
The “tool” can be configured to capture and interpret actions of existing applications used in various business processes, just as a human operator would do. These tools can mimic human actions without associated errors. The most important attribute of these tools is audit and logging. Any action or step taken by them can be logged and audited. Human resource can watch and perform a surveillance of each steps and actions of these tools. This feature also differentiates Robotic Process Automation (RPA) from Straight Through Processing (STP) tools where there is no visibility to human eyes of the steps/action taken by an automated process. Straight-through processing is an automated process performed purely through electronic transfers with no manual intervention involved.
Human actions and steps were widely monitored by automated surveillance mechanisms. Converse will happen in a RPA process.
Quite simply, RPA solutions use robotic software to automate a task. They mimic the actions of a human being and are relatively less intrusive. By taking over repetitive, structured and rules-dependent tasks, RPA automates processes at a large scale. Once the RPA tool has been trained or configured with well-defined business rules, it can then perform the functions being automated exactly as a human operator would. These may include processing bulk transactions, manipulating data, triggering real-time alerts or responses and creating audit trails, as well as communicating seamlessly with other enterprise systems.
- RPA systems are non-intrusive applications which do not require technical integration with other systems.
- They work at the graphical user interface level and do not need much, if any, IT support.
- And by replacing significant human error, they deliver substantially enhanced productivity.
If you look around there is a glut of information on Intelligent Automation/ Hyperautomation and Robotic Process Automation. Businesses still find it challenging to understand how automation can benefit them.
Can Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered tools be made part of their business and operational environments, and contribute to business growth? The answer is yes!
Intelligent Automation and Robotic Process Automation, which includes machine learning, Machine Vision, Natural Language Processing (NLP) are easily accessible, easy to deploy, faster and more efficient than many companies choose to believe. At the same time, Intelligent Automation and RPA are rapidly becoming a part of mainstream business operations, empowering teams and departments — assisting in executing tasks faster and more efficiently.
What makes RPA technology even more attractive is the benefits it offers. It is reliable, accurate, increases productivity, and is easily scalable. Freed of mundane, repetitive and time-consuming work, employees usually reclaim between 25-30% of their daily office time, giving them opportunities for more value-added work.
According to Gartner, by the end of 2022, 90% of large and huge enterprises will deploy some form of RPA in their work process. Getting started on RPA solutions is easy. While many businesses are interested in leveraging RPA’s potential to get ahead of the digital transformation curve, they remain unsure of how to identify processes where these solutions can be deployed.
Five Scenarios to identify the requirement of Robotic Process Automation:
Below, we present five scenarios which can help in identification of these activities and processes which can be considered for RPA.
Volume of Repetitive Tasks
A major application of RPA is automation of high-volume, repetitive tasks. RPA finishes tasks quickly while ensuring high levels of accuracy. When humans spend long hours repeating the same task, mental fatigue creeps in. Robotic automation is capable of handling voluminous repetitive tasks without complaining of fatigue, distraction or boredom.
With AI added to the equation, it becomes possible to automate both structured and unstructured data. For instance, a European real estate company uses AI, machine learning and computer vision to compare large volumes of data on property records and geographical images. The resultant machine-derived conclusions help employees identify discrepancies and discover insights, increasing their efficiency by 80%.
Addressing human errors in processes
Usually, automated tasks involve processing a lot of data, which people often find challenging, and thus are prone to many human errors. RPA helps in bringing down the possibility of error in business processes, activities, and transactions. This includes incorrect data entry, skipped or incomplete steps in process driven tasks, and errors in application of rules. It ensures that decisions dependent on data accuracy and interpretation are not compromised.
Fraud detection or internal audits
As outlined above, RPA can be used in a wide variety of business scenarios, but where it adds incremental value is in fraud detection and internal audits. Organisations are actively implementing RPA solutions in the internal security management system with robotic software assisting humans in time-consuming background checks and fraud investigations. Financial fraud monitoring, tracking and investigations can also be made at a fast pace during day-to-day financial transactions. Machine learning is combined with RPA to observe behavioral patterns, analyse and detect hidden correlations in data and identifying and flagging possible fraud scenarios in real time.
Improving Customer experience through Intelligent Automation
Deploying RPA can make customer service agents more effective and customer service efficacious. With consumers increasingly contacting organisations over various platforms, more than ever before, it’s becoming important for businesses to make every contact point an opportunity for a great brand experience. RPA allows customer service staff to hand over their repetitive and time-tasking processes and tasks, thereby helping them elevate their own skills and nurturing customer relationships. With routine tasks taken care of, empathy and rapport with the customer becomes the focus of customer service agents.
Automation of Big Data
According to McKinsey: “The amount of data in our world has been exploding, and analysing large data sets so-called big data will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus.” If Big Data is a gold mine, RPA is the invaluable tool to extract meaning from Big Data. Businesses can bring together RPA and Big Data to identify anomalies within business processes and streamline these hiccups from within their operations.
For instance, online retailers collect data from multiple sources about their customers’ buying habits. These could include preferred price range, product and brand choices, buying decisions for special offers. By deploying RPA and analysing the vast data-sets, the information can be used to revise the company’s offering, customising them and making them focused on individual customer needs.
So is your business an ideal candidate for RPA? It is if you work with large amounts of structured data, have rules-based business processes and high-volume repetitive-task workflow. If your answer is yes, get ready to make the RPA transition.
RPA technology is best suited for highly repetitive, rule-based activities and processes which are typically associated with high volume, transaction oriented back office processes.
RPA platforms have the capability to automate a broad range of processes in key functions including finance and accounting processes, HR, procurement, logistics, customer experience management and supply chain.