Robotic Process Automation: It Is Here to Make the Change

By Ray Naeini

The impact of emerging technologies on our lives and our businesses cannot be ignored, dismissed, or avoided.

The replacement of plain old telephones (POTs) by smartphones, fax machines by emails, pagers by text messaging, and in-store shopping by online buying are all examples of the inevitable impact of technology on our lives and the way we do business. We should embrace these new technologies, not resist them. 

The latest wave of emerging technologies delivers intelligent automation solutions that play an important role in the implementation of a digital transformation strategy—a strategy embraced by businesses around the world in response to demands from today’s digitally oriented customers—as well as the need for productivity and optimization in managing businesses in a highly competitive and global environment.

The two most essential technologies that power intelligent automation solutions are artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA). AI and RPA are rapidly changing everything in our personal and business lives.

Many enterprises have employees manually performing repetitive tasks—such as order processing, customer profile updates, and claims processing—every day. As the volume of workloads increases, they must add more manual labor, which may not be cost-justifiable. 

Robotic process automation (RPA) can automate such repetitive tasks and empower companies to cost-effectively manage large or fluctuating workloads. RPA does not necessarily replace employees, but it can augment the work of each employee to be more productive in processing larger workloads.

Additionally, AI can empower RPAs to become intelligent process automation, analyzing and automating more complex tasks that require AI-based analysis of data to reach certain decisions. RPA solutions provide a variety of options in automating processes. 

Attended, Unattended, and Hybrid RPA 

RPA can automate repetitive tasks autonomously and without any human intervention, with human interaction, or using a combination of both.

Unattended RPA automates processes without human intervention. The workflow is created by a process manager and activated based on a schedule or triggered by an event. It usually runs on a server and in the background, independent of human involvement.

There are certain processes, however, that cannot be entirely automated. Hence the need for attended RPA, which automates certain segments of the process. Attended RPA interacts with humans at certain points of a process that require intervention by an employee. Attended RPA increases the productivity of employees and eliminates errors by automating certain portions of a workflow previously executed manually by employees. 

Last, both attended and unattended RPA can work together as a hybrid to maximize automation and productivity. 

Rule-Based or AI-Powered Analytics-Based

RPA’s process automation can be rule-based for evaluation of structured data used in the workflow, making decisions by applying rules to such structured data. For example, if the city of residence is in a structured field, rules can evaluate the city in that field and make decisions. 

Analytics-based RPA, powered by AI-driven analytics, is intelligent process automation. It can analyze unstructured data and discover actionable knowledge, intent, categories, named entities, or sentiment to make decisions.

PrePackaged or Customizable Process Automation 

Prepackaged RPA offers a plug-and-play solution for predefined process automation. An example is using automated and adaptive intelligent real-time routing to direct customer service calls to the most-optimized point of service. 

Another example is a desktop transaction automation, which is an attended RPA. It runs on an employee’s desktop and interacts with the employee to optimize his or her performance. Prepackaged RPAs do not allow changes to the workflow by users.

Customizable RPA, on the other hand, provides users with a no-code platform to map, create, and customize the workflow of their processes using drag-and-drop desktop tools without any need for software engineers. They can test or place into production custom workflows, activated based on user-defined schedules or triggered by an event. No-code platforms are popular due to their capability in customizing a variety of processes rapidly and without generating software codes.

Ray Naeini is the CEO of OnviSource.

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