By Adriano Ribeiro, CEO & partner bwd and Rui Raposo, CCO & partner bwd
RPA is a type of software that mimics the activity of a human being in performing a task within a process and who can perform repetitive tasks more quickly, accurately and relentlessly, freeing humans to perform other tasks that require capabilities such as emotional intelligence, reasoning, and complex interaction with clients or suppliers.
In bwd we usually say that the RPA takes the robot out of the human being.
In a Back-Office process, the “normal” human collaborator has a high number of repetitive, routine tasks that are sad and uninteresting. As a result, this new wave of automation, using RPA, is being driven by the same reasons that first brought robotics and automation to the workplace: freeing human workers of dirty, boring or dangerous tasks; to improve quality, eliminate errors and reduce the variability of results. And, of course, reduce costs.
There is, however, a concern in the minds of people: can there be a connection between the shift from these tasks to robots and the reduction of employment for humans?
The only direct relationship that can be established is the passage to the robots of repetitive tasks that waste the potential of human intervention. With the use of robots, “humans” can be used where human thinking is necessary, with all its aspects, such as creativity.
But after all, what applications has RPA – why is its application growing exponentially?
Organizations are handling ever-increasing workloads. There will be an exponential amount of work that coincides with the exponential increase of data -50 percent more each year. We also have the factor of massive increase in audit regulation and bureaucracy. We need automation to relieve the stress these activities create on organizations.
For example, highly regulated industries, such as insurance and banking, are finding that automation is an inexpensive and quick way to apply superior capability in responding to the compliance problem.
The RPA also allows better service and greater attention to the customer, since it allows more power in the whole process. In an organization where customer inquiries are regular, for example, it can free staff to deal with more complex issues. Its users can create intelligent robots that mimic human actions while driving continuous improvement using artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. These intelligent robots interact in harmony with applications, and with any legacy system, portal or database, aggregating data, transforming it into useful information, triggering responses and communicating between organizational systems, Web sites and desktop applications. They are an excellent complement to human work.
So what tasks can the robot do concretely?
Robots can be used in multiple activities. Just as an example, we can list some:
- Processing of returns in e-commerce, a task that is significantly time-consuming when executed manually;
- Workflow Management, encompassing both workflow management and other HR processes, such as shift allocation, payment map management and employee license, which can be performed more productively by RPA;
- Management of customer support, which with RPA runs uninterrupted 24 hours a day including automation of processes such as feedback collection;
- ERP management, performing integrations of central systems with inventory systems and front-office systems, which ensures efficient management of logistics activities and the value chain, as well as permanent monitoring of the level of stocks;
- Accounting and financial area, including order and invoice processing, management of accounts payable and accounts receivable, reconciliation of accounts, payment orders, reports, consolidation of account information among numerous other tasks, can be managed by RPA, such as transactions between several departments and divisions that need to be registered and updated and consolidated in the ERP;
- Marketing and Consumer Behavior Analysis, campaigns can be repeated without manual effort, which enables an adjustment in strategies based on the analysis, while RPA will help to measure the effectiveness of new strategies;
- Demand and supply planning – a complex task that requires research and data collection, formatting and execution of simulations, finding exceptions, tasks that can be automated and simplified using RPA technology;
- Logistics and Value Chain Management – automation of e-mails by RPA means the possibility of automatically executing the sending of an email or text when an order is reserved, sent, delayed or delivered, which is also very useful maintaining stock levels and creating notifications when products reach extremely low levels or thresholds. After evaluating previous orders, RPA can help determine optimal order levels to improve procurement, reduce costs, and reduce waste.
Are the tasks not confined to data processing?
Data collection and processing are among the immediate features of RPA, however, intelligent analysis and processing tasks are unlimited.