An everyday example of robotic process automation in action.
For both use cases, software robots, or bots, are programmed with information that instructs them to complete tasks based on the presence of specific conditions. For example, when you place an order online from just about any retailer, you almost immediately receive a confirmation email summarizing your order: the quantity of each item ordered, the total expense charged to your credit card, the estimated delivery date, etc. Clicking the "submit order" button on the retailer's website triggers a bot that fetches this order information along with the buyer's information, including the delivery address and applicable taxes to be charged, as well as any other relevant account information, such as any special membership perks. The bot then uses this information to populate the confirmation email.
The key benefits of RPA for business.
As is clear from this one example of a common business process, using a software robot to do this type of work has clear business benefits over delegating it to one of your human employees:
- Speed: Consider how long it would take a person to access a company's accounting, inventory, billing, and logistics systems just to gather all the necessary information to fill in an order confirmation email. And, with the speed of commerce today, the likelihood of manual errors creeping into the process is considerable. RPA can take care of tedious tasks like this much faster and more reliably than a person ever could. And this is just one example. Applying RPA technology to other use cases enterprise-wide could result in considerable positive impact on the organization and a competitive advantage over organizations that can't deliver this kind of speed.
- Productivity: Machines are capable of working all day, every day, without breaks or time off. For businesses with operations that require this kind of constant uptime, robotic process automation is essential. When you have robotic automation taking care of many of your routine tasks, the more critical tasks will get the needed attention from the people on your team. Achieving this balance between your human and robot workforce boosts overall productivity even more.
- Accuracy: The simple automations best suited to RPA bots involve very basic decision logic (if x specific input is received, then y specific output follows). Though they are not complex tasks, there are still chances of error when the tasks are carried out by people. Robots, however, are not fallible like their human counterparts. With RPA you eliminate the human errors that occur when people are tired, rushed, stressed, or overworked—which brings us to the next advantage.
- Increased employee satisfaction: When employees are freed of the rote, repetitive, and mundane tasks that can be taken care of by RPA, they're able to tackle more complex tasks, which results in improved employee engagement and higher satisfaction levels.
- Increased customer satisfaction: Many times all a customer needs is a status update, a balance check, or to be walked through a simple transaction, such as returning an item purchased online. Assigning such tasks to RPA unburdens customer support and other back-office staff, enabling them to focus more on the type of tasks that require in-depth customer interactions. This combination of quick answers where needed and one-on-one attention for more involved inquiries drives a successful customer experience.
- Effective compliance and risk management: When RPA is used to spot instances of noncompliance or transactions occurring outside of set risk thresholds, your ability to act and avoid operational risks and noncompliance will be far more efficient than if you rely on manual processes to monitor for such deviations.
- New life for legacy systems: When existing systems are no longer delivering the functionality or experience you need, but replacing them with a brand new technology stack would be too expensive and/or too disruptive to your business, RPA offers a viable alternative. By using an RPA bot to connect your legacy systems to more modern applications—without having to spend months coding new APIs—you can achieve the experience and functionality your business users need, without the hassle and expense of a major tech stack overhaul.
- Reduced costs: At this point, it's probably easy to see all the ways RPA can deliver cost savings. Increased speed, accuracy, and productivity have a positive impact on your bottom line. Employees who are happier and more engaged with their work are more likely to remain in their jobs, which makes turnover less of an issue. Happy customers are loyal customers, and loyal customers drive strong revenue. A proactive approach to compliance and risk helps organizations avoid fines and other costly impacts to the business. And finally, RPA can provide a much lower-cost alternative to making major tech investments to deliver needed functionality.
RPA is an incredibly powerful technology that can help bring your business processes to a new level in terms of efficiency, accuracy, and speed. Removing processing errors from your business operations alone is an incredible benefit, but the return on investment goes much further with RPA in terms of risk and noncompliance avoidance, customer and employee satisfaction, and reduced costs.
RPA alone, however, is only part of the equation. Combining RPA with other automation technologies, such as a low-code platform, artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML), and intelligent document processing (IDP), as part of a larger digital transformation is the best approach to maximize the benefits of automation. This type of intelligent automation delivers outcomes above and beyond anything you could achieve with any single technology.
Learn more about how RPA can be a vital part of your complete automation strategy.