The robot revolution is upon us! Join us and thrive!
Leading organizations worldwide are already reaping amazing benefits of employing digital workers to handle important operations. Robotic process automation (RPA) is driving efficiency, cost savings, better labor utilization, faster processing and ultimately, maximized performance. At its core, RPA is about using virtual software robots to complete repetitive tasks more efficiently and accurately than relying on large populations of human operators. A significant portion of the everyday work that your people do can be automated, freeing these resources for more thoughtful, value producing tasks.
Rise of the digital worker
We envision a future where digital workers take on an ever-increasing amount of humanity’s workload, freeing us from mundane tasks so that we can pursue endeavors requiring human ingenuity and creativity. This future digital worker is primarily a being made of software in a largely digital enterprise, completing tasks at rapid rates with computer-like accuracy, working tirelessly and constantly improving.
Advanced digital workers will take on many human characteristics, and these attributes are currently being developed by leading-edge companies and researchers. For example, an advanced digital worker will be able to sort and decide between alternatives, using the ability to evaluate options and future outcomes like a human. They will rely on the emerging technologies of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Digital workers will build awareness to be able to read, obverse and comprehend information, using advanced cognitive techniques in processing unstructured information such as text, audio or video. Lastly, they will be able to act to make purposeful, useful change in the world. Here lies the technologies and practices of robotic process automation.
RPA by another name
RPA is a hot and often misrepresented new field in technology and operational practices. The industry has not completely landed on a single term, although we clearly favor “robotic process automation,” believing it is the most supported. Some other terms and concepts associated with this field include these and others:
- Intelligent process automation (IPA)
- Virtual worker automation (VWA)
- Automation software
- Desktop automation
- Virtual workforce
- Business process automation (BPA)
- Software bots
- IT automation
- Robotic desktop automation (RDA)
- Enterprise RPA
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
- Machine learning
- Deep learning
- Digital transformation
RPA today and tomorrow
No organization has yet put together the complete digital worker as described above. But we have begun the digital worker revolution. Today, we are successfully deploying software robots who can perform a significant portion of work that human operators are tasked with currently. These activities are typically those that are trainable and repeatable, meaning that they can be done the same way time after time, thereby completing the routine work, leaving the exceptions and outliers to their human cohorts.
The robots can work in nearly any technology environment, including legacy ERP systems, homegrown systems, vendor-provided interfaces or the newest cloud/SaaS solutions. For example, a software robot may take incoming PDF forms via an email account, read the form for its needed data and then populate various systems with the data fields and validation checks required and send approvals or notifications to the next step of the process. Cases that create exceptions or errors may be sent to a human operator for correction, still enabling the bulk of the workload to be handled faster and more accurately without human intervention.
Smart companies shouldn’t wait for the digital workforce to be perfected. It is necessary to learn now. Only by implementing and learning through the “simpler” automations will we be ready to handle the more advanced later. Organizations need to master the “robot way,” meaning redesigning core processes for best-of-breed for how a human and computer would perform the work. All of this will be necessary ground work in our evolution. The case for doing RPA now is also clear. Most companies can see a 50-80% cost savings over human onshore processing and a 25-40% savings over offshore fulfillment. We’ve also seen other benefits: RPA can provide job enrichment for employees as they are moved to higher order tasks. The company increases productivity and process transparency, as well as speed, quality of outcomes and the ability to scale.