What you need to know about robotic process automation (RPA).

20 Jul. 22
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“Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – Does that sound like engineering to you? What is next to autonomous mobile robots? Manufacturing automation or Robotic Systems Integration?

It could be, if it was a project related to robotic software design — but RPA does not have to do robotics in its traditional sense. It is misleading to call it RPA. David Essex, a freelance journalist and TechTarget editorial strategy calls RPA “software robotics.” He also mentions some of its common uses:

  • Invoicing – Automated financial accounting and financial activities within an ERP platform
  • An e-commerce application allows you to manage orders and process payments
  • Automating routine tasks in insurance claim management

 

RPA, at its core, is software robots that work in the background to automate routine tasks. This allows human developers, designers and engineers to focus on more creative and impactful work.

Our Software Director Sean Patterson was able to come up with an innovative use case based on his extensive practical experience.

“By using RPA, I was able to create a program which takes every email and sends it through Microsoft Cognitive Text Analysis. It returns a mood score and confidence score. Any emails with a confidence score of 90% or higher and any emails with mixed-to-negative reviews scores (for clients, team members, third-party vendors having trouble with something) would be sent as an alert to our customer engagement team. We could then develop a plan to address the concerns and improve our relationship. I would normally have to contact the person to discuss this, while also doing all of my sentiment analysis.

The cognitive text service could be used again to extract key phrases and then upload the confidence score and sentiment and phrases into an SQL database for further data processing. RPA would allow me to engage customers faster and provide deeper analysis which gives me greater insight into the topics (key phrases), that need to be addressed in my organization moving forward.

RPA does not have to be about robotics in the traditional sense.

Sean’s example shows that one of the core elements of robotic process automation (of many kinds) is business analytics powered by AI, machine learning. The technology behind RPA is complicated, but the concept itself is simple.

RPA has been around for some time. It automates repetitive, time-intensive tasks and workflows. Robotic process automation allows human workers to perform higher-value tasks, which require more creativity and are not possible with robots.

 

The core benefits of robotic process automation

 

Let’s take a look at six benefits that Sean has highlighted, which show the intrinsic value of RPA solutions.

  • Accuracy: The software robot scans all incoming emails looking for key phrases. After the program has been deployed, human error is eliminated (missing key phrases, glossing over relevant details, etc.). It is out of the equation.
  • Productivity: Sean can spend his time with clients and have interpersonal conversations. This is something that a software robot cannot do. Sean and his team save hours of manual labor, which can be used to solve problems.
  • Consistency: The software robotic does one thing extremely well. It analyzes text and flags them, providing ready-made insights for Sean and his team. The robot’s focus is so specific and narrow that it focuses only on the task at hand. It does not make mistakes.
  • Compliance: The bots follow the programme Sean designed and adhere to the software’s rules. They also leave a trail of information for the finance and business development teams to use to document customer relations.
  • Increased employee morale Instead of manually documenting, Sean can concentrate on what he does best: talking with people, building relationships and finding practical solutions to complex problems.

 

Fresh’s work with RPA systems Harbor Hub: Unified ordering and inventory management

 

Harbor Wholesale contacted us to help unify and consolidate their systems and workflows in order to create a software platform for seamless inventory management. Harbor Hub was created, an RPA-powered ordering system and inventory system. It improves the customer and employee experience at convenience stores.

Software robots are able to organize millions of data points for decision-making and daily operations, while store owners focus on creating a customer-friendly experience in their physical locations.

RANDYS Worldwide: streamlined ecommerce

RANDYS Worldwide is America’s largest distributor and supplier of differential gears and axles. RANDYS required an e-commerce platform with a robust back-end database in order to make thousands of their products easily searchable by customers and to allow their 200 employees to catalog their products. They have seven distribution and warehouse facilities.

 

A platform that integrated WordPress and WooCommerce was created. It implements a scalable filtration system to allow users to shop for a wide range of automotive products via the RANDYS website. Software robots work in the background to ensure that every detail of the order process is taken care of.

RPA refers to software robots that work in the background to automate repetitive tasks. This allows human developers, designers and engineers to be more creative and impactful.

Ben Bridge Jewelers: a simplified sales process and customer experience

Ben Bridge Jewelers is a leader in the high-end jewelry industry thanks to their easily recognized brick-and-mortar location. Their e-commerce experience was not as intuitive or efficient as they needed in order to compete in the increasingly complicated consumer digital retail market.

The Ben Bridge team asked us to partner with them to create an elegant front-end and a technical backend to enhance online sales workflows. We also integrated PayPal and Amazon Checkout. Ben Bridge employees can continue to be the leader in luxury jewelry retail by being empowered while software robots manage data and sensitive payment operations.

The RPA system had key outcomes, including a record 48% year-over-year increase in website traffic over four-years and a 370% rise in online transactions after launch.

What are the future prospects for RPA?

McKinsey Digital has included robotic process automation among their top tech trends, citing the key enablements RPA provides for:

  • Scaling up operations quickly and evenly
  • You can operate with less dependence on human workers for routine tasks
  • Flexiblely adapting operations to meet new requirements

 

Let’s go back to Sean’s email. This is a great premise to use natural language processing, business insight, and machine learning for creating an autonomous platform for customer emotion analysis. It is scalable and frees people to do more valuable work.

Other RPA solutions are also available. The possibilities are endless. Robotic process automation is a great way to automate routine tasks that software robots can’t do.

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