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Gearing up for RPA: Use Cases for Digital Labor

Roland Alston, Appian
September 14, 2017

It's easy to imagine that some things have to be the way they've always been like high-volume, tedious, repetitive work.

The conventions of old-school, manual, labor can be hard to break. But in the digital economy, the drive for efficiency and productivity demands that anything that can be automated will be automated especially high-volume, tedious, repetitive work.

But what if there was a better, faster way to pivot to digital labor?

What if you could quickly deploy software robots to manage customer records across multiple back office systems?

What if you could instantly scale a 24x7x365 digital workforce, with the capability to link systems, processes and activities across your entire organization on demand?

What if you could harness software robots to automate "return" authorizations for customers...accelerate resolution of customer complaints...and automatically escalate cases to customer care specialists, based on the specific prioritization and business rules of your company?

Sounds like sci-fi fantasy but it's not.

Getting the most out of RPA

In a recent blog post by Appian RPA expert Prittam Bagani "What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and How Can I Get the Most Out of It?" Bagani highlights the capability of modern RPA to react quickly to market opportunities. Bagani also points out how this kind of digital agility is key to succeeding in the fast-moving digital world.

The bad news? Many companies are stuck in neutral with complex business processes and legacy systems.

The opposite of this is the Aviva use case that Bagani mentions in his blog. Aviva the largest insurer in the UK with businesses across Europe, Asia and Canada broke the legacy shackles to supercharge innovation using the Appian platform, which includes Robotics Process Automation (RPA).

In contrast to Aviva, some companies get hung up in the question of whether RPA is right for them.

But, in the age of digital transformation, the question is not whether you should or shouldn't adopt RPA. The real question is, what is the best way to harness it?

The most successful companies will unlock new innovation potential in their software development platforms by combining Business Process Management, with low-code development and emerging technologies such as RPA

The thing is, digital automation is essential to digital transformation success.

It's about boosting productivity and freeing up workers to focus on high-value tasks. It's about fueling the instant scalability of a digital workforce, and helping companies take advantage of new business opportunities. It's about taking the friction out of customer interactions and increasing long-term customer value not just cutting costs. It's about implementing digital automation across your entire organization, not just in the back office.

Something else to consider. The best RPA solutions can be easily integrated with existing legacy systems. They can reside on premises. Or, you can implement them via the cloud.

In many cases, companies are using RPA to automate common back office data processing operations.In other cases, they're using RPA to optimize more strategic business activities.

It's also worth noting that over 50 percent of developer teams will embed cognitive services in their apps by 2018, compared to just 1 percent today, according to the experts at IDC .

In other words, companies are integrating artificial intelligence, machine learning, and RPA into their digital transformation platforms. Which is a big deal for companies that operate in highly-regulated environments.

For example, in the banking industry, Anti Money Laundering (AML) compliance is a high priority item. In fact the cost of AML compliance has skyrocketed more than 50 percent in the last three years, according to Accenture.

The scary part is that in incredibly complex regulatory environments like major league banking digital transformation can resemble a block-stacking game of JENGA.

Perhaps this is why 96% of bank executives fear coming up short on digital transformation, according to a recent study by Capgemini and Efma.

More broadly, a quarter of businesses opted to outsource compliance to overcome a compliance skill gap last year, according to Thomson Reuters. And, 67% of firms expected higher labor costs because of the growing need to manage regulatory requirements.

Stay on top of regulatory requirements

    • What if you could minimize regulatory risk by combining RPA with Business Process Management (BPM), and a low-code approach to compliance?

    • What if you could run your compliance processes on a platform that combines the speed and power of low-code development, BPM and RPA?

    • What if you could gain full-visibility into data, documentation, and audit trails for compliance cases, and intelligently route compliance data to specific work queues for processing?

Best Uses Cases for RPA

    • In banking, the combination of digital automation and low-code development could streamline loan applications, fast track the onboarding process for new customers, and speed time to revenue.

    • In healthcare, RPA AI, and low-code development could create smart applications to automate routine processes, like copying and pasting medical history and treatment data across multiple systems.

    • In the transportation and logistics industry, software robots can schedule and track shipments, automate the bidding process for new business, track the management of fleet maintenance and warranty repairs, manage accounts receivables, and accelerate the payments process.

    • For any large company that operates multiple contact centers, RPA bots can automatically pull customer information and historical interaction data from back-end systems, and instantly bring the data back to customer service reps, to speed problem resolution and improve the customer experience.

Beyond costs savings and efficiency

Many use cases naturally focus on cost reduction and cost control.

But the magic of RPA is also about automating the data collection process, so decision makers spend less time looking for information, and more time analyzing it.

Yes, there's fear that automation will kill jobs. But, historically speaking, disruptive innovation has created more jobs than it has displaced.

At a higher level, RPA is an on-ramp to digital transformation.

Early adopters are radically transforming their operations, streamlining their business processes, and accelerating service delivery, while improving compliance and customer experience.

But how can you know when it's time to step up to RPA? What are some of the signs that it's time to update your digital transformation playbook with an RPA approach?

Want to learn more? Download the latest RPA whitepaper from Appian and learn more about how RPA works with other technologies to accelerate your digital transformation journey.