[Editor’s Note: Know This, Do This is a blog series from System Soft Technologies. What is this series for? It’s a cycle of articles that take you on a journey, exploring ways innovative technology can help leaders drive transformation and growth.]
Every business leader is thinking about digital transformation and how to use automation for enhancing customer engagement and driving down operational costs. It’s everywhere and applicable for all industries and organizations of all sizes.
But there are two problems leaders confront: First, the slow pace of technology development to automate key processes; second, the failure to capture the forecasted benefits.
The path to realizing the benefits of software-driven automation has been bumpy. And the journey has proved more challenging than many executives anticipated. Nearly half (44%) of respondents to a Bain & Company survey said their automation projects have not delivered expected savings.
Competitive pressures and economic challenges associated with the pandemic are increasing the need for automation projects to be delivered fast and effectively. Unfortunately, we find the exact opposite. Many of our clients are struggling with inadequate internal capacity, methodology challenges and project delays becoming more the norm than the exception.
The business value of bots is well documented. The Bain survey estimates a cost savings of 20% across processes in finance, human resources, supply chain and procurement, and service delivery. Leaders under immense pressure to achieve results like that and do so in a responsive timeframe means finding ways to overcome project delays and failed implementations.
We believe that automating your automation is the answer. Read on for an understanding how that gets done.
There are three advanced and proven technologies you must consider as you execute robotic process automation (RPA) programs to accelerate the timeframe for bot development and increase the assurance for business benefits.
Some clients call it intelligent automation. Others call it hyperautomation. Regardless of terminology, we believe it’s important to consider these technologies, which automate many of the processes involved in bot development:
- Low-Code or No-Code Software Development Platforms
- Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Bot Methodology Automation Tools
There’s another advantage to adopting this approach. An intelligent automation bot program can tackle a much broader set of processes and use cases. This drives higher business value through better customer service and enhanced operating efficiency.
During the next two years, according to the Bain survey, the share of companies using low-code or no-code automation, intelligent automation of robotic process automation, and conversational AI will at least double.
So, let’s talk about each of these technologies. They are critical to the process of automating your automation.
Low-Code or No-Code for Automation
Low-code and no-code platforms can automate manual processes and the development of a compelling user interface to quickly produce applications. These can dramatically transition the execution of processes from manual labor to computers.
Additionally, low-code and no-code platforms allow business users to develop software through graphical interfaces, with little IT help. These platforms enable speed, scalability and security of automated process to ignite business agility, deliver engaging customer service, and enhance operational efficiency and resiliency.
Initiating or increasing your use of low-code or no-code to essentially develop software faster and with less cost, gives your organization a strong competitive advantage.
Numbers show that business leaders are seeing low-code and no-code as tools to implement innovative technology in an agile and rapid timeframe, while boosting automation. Consider the following from Gartner and Forrester:
- 70% of application development will be done in a low-code or no-code environment by 2024
- 69% of IT teams are now using low-code or no-code platforms
- 90% of IT leaders believe low-code or no-code improves the customer experience
- 29% of organizations have reported a 2x jump in delivery time
- Application development timeframes are being achieved in 10x faster timeframes
Project timeframes to automate key business processes have often taken under one month for many of our clients. If you’re not considering the use of this profoundly-impactful platform, it’s possible your competition is.
Time is of the essence. So, begin looking for process opportunities where a low-code and no-code solution makes sense.
ML and AI as Drivers of Sophisticated Automation
Many of our clients started with bot programs a few years ago. They have been engaging processes that were highly standardized, with little exceptions or workflow diversity. They’ve now hit a proverbial “wall.” They are unable to put in place automation for handling complex processes that need to:
- Decide what to do with OCR images
- Use complex decision logic
- Traverse different processing paths based on data analysis
RPA is a system that can perform a defined set of tasks repeatedly and without fail. That’s because it has been specifically programmed for that job. But it cannot apply the function of learning to improve itself or adapt its skills to a different set of circumstances.
That’s where machine learning is increasingly contributing to building more intelligent bots and expanding scope potential.
Machine learning is meeting RPA as data is analyzed by the bot and powerful outcomes arise. Such as when:
- Learning occurs, so that the bot spits out less exceptions and improves processing accuracy (e.g., recognition of digital images advances to enhance the accuracy of identified document type)
- The scope of the processes that can be undertaken by RPA expand (e.g., using natural language processing to understand customer inquiries and handle automated responses)
Machine learning means that algorithms are improving process efficiency through experience and AI. The machines are learning as they go. This is an essential component of making automation smarter. It has multiple applications in business and industry.
McKinsey reports that organizations already working with AI-powered automation have seen results in:
- Automation of 50% to 70% of tasks
- Reduction in straight-through process time by 50% to 60%
- Decreased annual run-rate costs by 20% to 30%
- High ROI in the triple-digits for most businesses
With ML and AI, robotic process automation can move beyond basic automation. That way, it significantly increases productivity and expands the envelope of potential use cases dramatically.
A Google/MIT survey reports that nearly 75% of respondents believe their organization’s current goals can be better achieved with greater investment in machine learning and automation. What’s more, 85% of business executives say machine learning and automation will allow their organizations to obtain or sustain a competitive advantage.
The range of business problems to which intelligent automation can be applied is spreading. They come as technologies for voice recognition, natural language processing and machine learning improve and become usable by non-specialists. These technologies are progressively available as open source, low-cost products or cloud-based services.
To remain competitive and efficient, businesses now must contemplate adding machine learning and artificial intelligence to traditional RPA, achieving intelligent automation.
RPA Platforms: Supporting Automation of RPA Development
Kind of sounds like circular logic, doesn’t it? But here’s the point.
RPA bots are software. Software development can be a tedious and error-prone process. Translating requirements into code is often a vexing, time-consuming and costly process. Business users are often disappointed when the software they wanted developed doesn’t meet their expectations. For many, unfortunately, that’s the case for bot development.
Yet, there’s good news on the RPA horizon.
There are a growing number of RPA vendors and other process automation support tools that can automate the process of building bots. In so doing, there’s a substantial savings of time and cost. Plus, the risks are largely reduced, regarding developed software not aligning with the business need.
Here are the capabilities that exist in these platforms:
- Automated Process Discovery. AI-powered ability to document process flows and variations, saving time and money through automated production of business requirements and process flows.
- Automated RPA Code Development. Automated creation of scripts for major RPA platforms (e.g., UiPath, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and Pegasystems) means bots are being employed to build bots. That can sound scary, but it’s an amazing time and money saver.
- Automated Learning. Many of the top RPA platforms have sophisticated Learning Centers, so business and technology people can access and consume role-based learning content.
So, it’s important to find those RPA platforms that are not only good at automating business processes, but also can automate the methodology and lifecycle for bot development.
[Watch webinar: RPA Hero to Zero: How to Rescue Your Bots]
Automating your automation is a rapidly growing trend. Organizations are finding that it’s critical to business survival and success.
It’s important to recognize that such automation of automation processes, such as through low-code or no-code, doesn’t eliminate the need for people. On the contrary: Automating the automation empowers professionals to be more effective with their efforts, rather than reducing the need for human involvement in automation.
Advancement in artificial intelligence, robotics and automation, supported by substantial investments, are fueling a new era of automation. This will likely become an important driver of organizational performance now and in the years to come. It’s crucial for businesses in all sectors to understand and commit to automating automation, or risk falling behind.
The bottom line of business process automation is, well, the bottom line.
Automating processes is saving time and is allowing resources to be diverted elsewhere. It means companies can operate efficiently and more agilely. Increased efficiency, productivity and lower costs all translate to healthier profit margins for both small and large businesses.
It appears inevitable that we’re heading toward a future of more automation. One thing seems certain: If it can be automated, it will be.
System Soft Technologies (SSTech) can help your organization get more bang out of your bots. We differentiate from other technology partners by specializing in the platforms that let us use automation to develop automation solutions, such as low-code or no-code. And its applicable to a broad set of applications and scope.
Get a jump on automating your automation. Request more information about our RPA QuickStrike Workshop.
About the Author: Stephen Moritz
Stephen Moritz serves as the Chief Digital Officer at System Soft Technologies. Steve, an avid warrior of fitness and health, champions driving business transformation and growth through the implementation of innovative technology. He often shares his knowledge about Digital Marketing, Robotic Process Automation, Predictive Analytics, Machine Learning and Cloud-based Services.