Robotic process automation has been getting a lot of sensationalised media coverage lately with threats of mass unemployment making the headlines several times. The thing is, whilst it’s exciting to think of shiny robots joining you at the water cooler, that’s not what RPA is about! It’s quite boring actually, compared to the flashy computer-generated images of robots you see floating around today (of which we are guilt too).
So, what is RPA and why is a bot any better than me?
All RPA is, at the end of the day, is another piece of coding that makes steps in a workflow happen automatically. What makes RPA different – and better – than other process automation tools is that you can literally ‘teach’ the bot what it needs to do as if it were a human doing it, only much faster and with zero chance of mistyping or accidentally sending an email to the wrong person like a human might do on a Friday afternoon at 16:30. And on the topic of time – the bot can ‘work’ 24/7 regardless. So, it’s no surprise that there has been increasing business interest in this technology. The next level up from RPA is the emerging tech we know as Artificial Intelligence (AI), or Machine Learning (ML). This is where, not only do you ‘teach’ the bot to perform tasks, but the bot also ‘learns’ as it goes.
Why should I care about the process if the bot is going to be doing it for me?
The underlying issue with adding robotics or even artificial intelligence to a business process is that, if your process is badly designed or inefficient, then no number of bots is going to make much difference. What you want is a smart process, such that when you do add bots, you’re sticking them in the right places and making them perform tasks that add significant value to the outcomes. That’s why it’s so critical to take a process-first approach.
I’m ready to find out more!
If you want to learn more, Velocity has recently published a white paper on this topic – Beyond Bots.