Driving extreme business value from Robotic Process Automation

  • Posted on May 15, 2017

Recently, Gartner predicted that “by 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse.”  This future forecast means that businesses will need to develop strategies in order to harness digital transformation technologies such as bots and robotic process automation (RPA).

Improving process efficiency is often the primary driver in RPA implementations. Business cases are built and project plans mapped out to automate existing processes. But are we missing opportunities with a limited approach?  I believe we can drive business transformation including customer and employee experiences with RPA.

There are many ways to get started with robotic process automation. The most basic projects - taking existing, but ordinary, processes and automating them - may drive some efficiency.  However, a move toward RPA is an opportune time to re-think ways of working. Digital transformation, as an example, exerts new pressures on processes and systems. The increasing volume of online interactions and the size and shape of data models demand processes that leverage data for intelligent decision making.

Applying innovation to an RPA project can strengthen business transformation and even drive cultural change. To get started, first select the processes to be automated. To identify potential candidates:

  • Consider processes that are under strain due to the ebbing effect of digital transformation.
  • Look outward from improved data models. Processes may benefit from newer, more extensive data that lead to increased intelligence and automated decision making.
  • Review disparate processes for repetitive tasks across the organization. These processes can be levers to driving business results.
  • Study libraries of industry automated processes with demonstrated business results and compare these to existing processes.

Once the process group is identified, I propose several ways to leverage RPA efforts to expand value:

  1. Enhance the customer experience

We should examine RPA as an opportunity to provide heightened awareness as it adds value to our customers. Consider, for example, the efforts of airlines to provide each traveler with up to the minute flight status, baggage information and other trip details. If we are delivering an asset or response to a client as part of a process, we should explore ways that customers would benefit from increased awareness. Are there specific parts of this process that support our customer journey ­or support customer desire for a more efficient transaction?

  1. Change culture through employee experience

Likewise, for employees, better visibility and increased knowledge can improve satisfaction and empower performance. With the war for talent, employees are focused on the working environment, tools and ability to collaborate. Employers must remain attentive to that whilst implementing an automated environment. Our employees remain the key connection in the business and the process interface must support them. Does the RPA effort champion the employee experience and empower and delight?

  1. Identify diamonds and let them shine

Process re-engineering is not always necessary. If your processes are unique to the industry or differentiating to your business, then standard processes may not apply. Leverage those processes that drive significant results and consider how to optimize, automate or extend them across your organization to maximize differentiation.

  1. Drive intelligence

The growth in data provides an opportunity to smarten up decision-making. By harnessing new or expanded data sets, automated decision making based on intelligently treated data can optimize the outcomes for both customers and employees. Process decision points should be re-examined: Is this still the correct decision point? What data do I now have to provide a higher probability outcome?

Finally, consider that the team to develop your RPA approach will need more than software experts with knowledge of your preferred tools. Bring together a diverse team to fully envision the future as you leverage RPA to drive value.

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