What executives need to know about Robotic Process automation (RPA)

Senior managers in a range of industries agree that automated workflows are a high priority impacting internal and external communities of interest. Studies have shown senior managers are budgeting capital to make strategic investments in Robotic Process Automation (RPA). But what exactly does this mean?

For a while both enterprises and BPOs have been looking for ways to gain efficiency by automating routine work. In 2013, the McKinsey Global Institute dared to make a prediction when they published an article on the economic impacts of automated knowledge work. “Disruptive Technologies: Advances that will Transform Life, Business and the Global Economy” observing with this new technology, a volume of five to seven trillion US dollars could be generated by 2025 in addition to 230 million new jobs.

The term “Robotic Process Automation” has its roots in the United States, where it has been used to identify automated workflows found in administrative departments and service bureaus. Recently, it has expanded to include artificial intelligence and adaptive computer systems creating solutions to help deal with the increased flow of unstructured information into organizations. As a result, the market is clogged with numerous suppliers offering alleged RPA solutions.

How does it work?

RPA is able to virtually simulate employees interacting via the user interfaces of any IT system. For example, with ITyX that service is called the “Virtual Agent”, a part of the Omnichannel Platform. In conjunction with Artificial Intelligence software and intelligent text analytics, the virtual employee is able to understand text events such as email, web inquiries, social media events, etc. which can be classified and inserted into a business process. A typical example is Generali, automatic AI recognizes an email as a proposal request. All the data needed to create a valid bid is extracted from the message and communicated to the bid system using Virtual Agent. Once the offer is received from the bid system it is emailed to the requestor. Human employees are asked to help if the original request is unclear or missing key information or when internal underwriting rules need to be verified. The usage of RPA software has reduced the average handling time by 90%!

What organizations can benefit?

In the manufacturing industry, advanced production rates, more efficient processing and higher quality have been achieved thanks to robotic automation. In much the same way, RPA software is able to minimize time and cost of workflow procedures inside contact centers and back office organizations significantly. With RPA, organizations see substantial improvement in the accuracy of processing data and automation of routine operations. Repetitive human actions are reduced to guarantee quality while freeing workers to focus on more complex and value added activities. Businesses with a high volume of simple repetitive tasks as well as organizations with back-end programs from the late 80s can benefit from RPA. Updating and automating these tasks without an AI based solution would require significant time, effort, and investment. Solutions such as Virtual Agent provide a “virtual” workaround.

What to look out for?

Many vendors call their RPA solutions smart and comprehensive but, in most cases, the proposals are limited to structured content. The majority of the omnichannel communication coming onto organizations is unstructured- email, chat, social media events, web inquiries, etc. By nature unstructured means that a human has to read it; AI and RPA provide a solution to manage the growing amount of unstructured communication effectively. Unfortunately, this can lead to confusion and skepticism among senior management clouding the ability of true AI software as an effective tool.

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