Robotic Process Automation: Leveraging software robots to replace humans

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a rather new term in the industry that has a lot of people curious.

What it boils down to is the use of software to automate task and processes. With RPA, “software robots” can process a business transaction, manipulate data, improve customer experience and boost operational excellence through increased efficiency, performance, agility and accuracy. In short, it’s a way for machines to replace human workers in regular activities done across the organization.

RPA is revolutionizing how we think about and administer business processes, IT support processes, workflows and remote infrastructure. The approach offers improved accuracy and increased productivity, while elevating the nature of work itself by shifting dull, repetitive tasks from people to machines.

How do enterprises use RPA?

Large enterprises often require a high volume of human labor to complete tasks, while always having to keep an eye on productivity and cost efficiency. RPA gives businesses a tool to increase innovation and profitability in a cost efficient way. It allows organizations to automate manual and repetitive rules-based tasks at a fraction of the cost of human labor. Plus, these software robots can be integrated without disrupting the legacy system.

Nowadays, organizations use Robotic Desktop Automation and Robotic Process Automation to complete tasks more quickly and achieve greater returns on investment. By removing lower-value, repetitive activities — such as application sign-on and call set-up — from the desktop, customer representatives in the front office can focus on delivering exceptional service. Similarly, at the back office, these processes automate high-volume, rules-based activities to reduce costs, accelerate productivity and decrease errors. And human employees get freed up to perform higher-value work.

Benefits of Robotic Process Automation

Scalability

A robotic workforce can be as large or as small as you need it to be, and additional robots can be deployed quickly — for no extra cost or minimal expenditure. You can train hundreds or thousands of robots at exactly the same time through workflow creation.

Performance data analysis

Software robots are designed to return a great deal of performance data. You will know what your robots are doing at all times, how many transactions have been processed, how many exceptions were set aside, and so on. This data can help you identify bottlenecks or ways to streamline a process.

Low cost and high speed

Software robots are much cheaper compared to human employees. An RPA does not need to take breaks or receive benefits. In fact, your robots will work 24/7, even when everyone else is sleeping.

Elimination of errors

RPA eliminates human error. As robots have unlimited attention spans,  they don’t make mistakes in their calculations. When a robot encounters a transaction that does not fit its rules or parameters, the transaction is set aside for a human to complete later. And by limiting human interaction, organizations better protect sensitive enterprise data from theft or loss. 

Other benefits include:

  • Orchestration of customer process by integrating customer channels, business data and enterprise applications
  • Enforcement of service-level agreement compliance
  • Improvement of agility and speed-to-market to meet changing business needs

Use cases for Robotic Process Automation

So how can businesses take advantage of this technology? Here are some ideas:

Process automation

This technology can expedite back-office tasks in finance, procurement, supply chain management, accounting, customer service and human resources, including data entry, purchase order issuing, creation of online access credential or business processes that require access to multiple existing systems.

IT support and management

Automated processes in the remote management of IT infrastructures can consistently investigate and solve problems for faster process throughput. RPA can improve service desk operations and the monitoring of network devices. Separating scalability from human resources allows a company to handle short-term demand without extra recruiting or training.

Automated assistant

Developments in how machines process language, retrieve information and structure basic content mean that RPA can provide answers to employees or customers in natural language, rather than in software code. This technology can help businesses conserve resources at call centers and customer interaction centers.

As RPA brings more technologically advanced solutions to businesses around the world, enterprises that adopt the technology, whether in-house or offshored, will cut costs, drive efficiency and improve quality. And in today’s business environment, that’s what it’s all about.

I hope this helps you understand what RPA is all about. I’d love to know your thoughts on the technology. Feel free to leave a comment below.

RELATED LINKS

Beyond off-shoring: Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Say ‘hello’ to your new colleague, the Cobot

How much would you pay a robot or AI to do your job?

 

Comments

  1. Sajeevan says:

    Nice article

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi would like to understand the case study. Can you kindly give facts and figures “The chart below shows the proof of concept for BPO order management. The work of 800 humans was done with 50 robots, with time reduced from 30 minutes to 10 minutes for a period of 6 months return on investment. The cost reduction was 80%.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Venkatesh says:

    Great Info. So if I understand it right from whatever I could judge based on my knowledge levels on this topic..RPA is like sophisticated Macro that does a specific action based on the commands provided. Can we also know, if the software robot will also be able to take decisions?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arin Dey says:

      Artificial intelligence technologies for software robots are already being used to address certain issues; like in academic publishing: for example, identifying new potential peer reviewers from web sources; detecting plagiarism; and flagging up occasions when data have been made up, when researchers have used the wrong statistical tests, and when they have failed to report key information. Automation can assist peer review in other areas as well. This is one of the examples. There are a lot of examples where software robots take decision. As robots become more advanced, their ethical decision-making will only become more sophisticated. But this raises another question of how to program ethics into robots, and whether we can trust robots with moral decisions. But several philosophers and computer scientists are currently working on how to make robots more ethical or logical decision makers with the help of AI for robotics.

      Like

  4. Rajesh Nair says:

    Good overview Arin. Glad to see more and more people in our organization are showing a keen interest in RPA rather than being pushed towards it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yasin Kara says:

    Great article Arin, In terms of IT support, how do you envisage RPA to perform troubleshooting on undocumented previously unseen problems which is what a good chunk of IT support is?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arin Dey says:

      Good point Yasin, that is where human intervention is required as of now. I wish RPA to be seen in future in a way we can include the most possible options by predicting the problem and it’s resolution. Still far way to go..

      Like

  6. I’ve read your blog post presenting RPA as a way to replace human workers in their regular activities, and I have to say that I won’t agree with you.

    Contextor is a software vendor providing RPA solutions and we are already working with your colleagues in France, Belgium and Luxembourg.

    We do have about 100,000 RPA bots running around the globe, mainly in Western Europe, for clients in BFSI, energy, telecommunication, retail… 80% are for Attended RPA and 20% for Unattended RPA with various use cases.

    Our RPA bots are not replacing human agents, they free them for tedious and repetitive tasks, letting them spend more time for value added tasks requiring their human skills, in order to improve the quality of human-customer interactions.

    Like

    • Arin Dey says:

      30 companies already replacing humans with robots. A post by Microsoft Network – ( https://goo.gl/kRU49v ) states the name of the companies. What’s your take on it?

      Like

    • Agree. Robots can replace highly repeatable , high volume operational tasks like swivel, invoice entry , copy paste jobs between various heterogeneous applications like the way employees work. But software robots can not replace human agents.

      Like

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