Our first thoughts on Robotic Process Automation (RPA) veer to a software that automates human functions without human intervention. RPA technology has been around for quite a while, parading its prowess in replacing mundane and iterative activities performed by humans. But not many of us realize that RPA has moved well beyond ‘bespoke tasks’ and ‘paving the cowpath’. The growing applications and capabilities of this technology prove that RPA is now a misnomer. In fact, RPA has transitioned into Intelligent Process Automation (IPA), empowered by blockbuster technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP).
Forrester in its report titled ‘Digital Nation’ forecasts that the RPA market would reach $22 billion by 2025. Originally developed for back office automation in finance areas, RPA is now being used by many large organizations as part of their enterprise transformation initiatives. The growing traction of low code technologies is also accelerating IPA since it widens possibilities for man-machine integration.
Here are the five applications where RPA has not just catalyzed business growth but elevated Customer Experience (CX) to new highs.
Within the past few years, computer programs that simulate human conversation have rocketed into everyday use. Voice interfaces, as well as chatbots, utilize deep learning and AI. Chatbots elevate user convenience by displaying a possible list of questions, and depending on the choice, the solutions are offered. For example, when the customer service team of leading insurer AIG was struggling to provide quick and efficient customer service, AIG Israel implemented an RPA system that automated 12 customer services, mostly repetitive in nature. There are an array of use cases where RPA and Conversational AI intersect in customer engagement (ordering, application, customer onboarding, customer billing, claims etc) and employee engagement (application, recruitment, onboarding, payroll, benefits management and many more).
Walmart has embraced RPA to navigate the myriad challenges associated with modern retailing. The retail monolith uses over 500 bots not only to automate tasks such as answering employee questions or retrieving useful information from audit documents but also to track the inventory flow, to identify slow-moving items and deadstock. There is more to gain in retail with RPA with potential to automate functions like inventory management, product categorization, logistics and supply chain management, consumer behavior analysis, and integrating brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce platforms. RPA brings in many a benefits like improving product availability, reducing errors.
Robots can generate invoices in seconds, encouraging clients to pay quickly. The use of RPA in financial services tracks, standardizes, and validates payments, processes orders, and avoids errors. With RPA in finance, you can eliminate endless email correspondence, automate payment approvals, match invoices to responsible parties, and set deadline reminders. To illustrate, Pegasystems and Bank of America partnered together to implement Pega Robotic Automation. Robots interpret applications for data-intensive processes such as transaction execution, response triggering, and exception handling.
Human Resource Management
RPA can collect and screen resumes and online application forms, perform thorough background checks, and compare the information with all relevant job postings. In this way, the best candidates can be shortlisted. With RPA, new employees can quickly receive personalized and accurate offer letters. Data such as absentee reports can be validated by comparing them with time logged on the corporate network. In addition, it can alert them to inconsistencies or gaps in information.
High reliability and accuracy of process outcomes are crucial for telecom companies. The typical task fulfilment requirements, such as querying and updating multiple systems, make this difficult. In telecom, robotic process automation reduces error rates to zero, improving data quality, customer service, and operational efficiency while reducing costs significantly. Using RPA, telecom companies can automate their employees' business processes. The foundation for automated processes is a well-structured workflow that is generated based on employee actions.
More to automate in the future
RPA has evolved incredibly from back-office operations to intelligent, future-shaking autonomous applications. Organizations can bank on RPA to tackle labour shortages, navigating supply chain challenges, meeting ESG mandate, combating inflation and improving capital allocation. Smart Automation or RPA 2.0 can be a bigger disruptor than what you could imagine.