Product Director for Nice advanced process automation solutions Itay Reiner spoke to the Computer Weekly Developer Network to discuss how Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is used to aid Enterprise Application Integration (EAI).
Reiner says that RPA provides an out of the box connectivity capability enabling the integration with ‘any’ kind of application within enterprises.
As such, RPA does not require any additional work on the IT side in order to integrate with enterprise applications. By utilising the connectivity technologies available, RPA is used to create integrations between different applications within the enterprise.
The advantage is that it is done quickly with minimal development effort and without the need to expose additional APIs on the application side.
Reiner writes as follows…
RPA is known for its low code type of development. By utilising different application connectivity technologies such as object-based connectivity and AI based surface-based connectivity, it (in most cases) eliminates the need of using API’s.
So how is RPA is being used both a) internally to streamline IT operations and b) externally, to automate manual tasks and help organisations on their digital transformation journey?
Internal use case
A large Internet Services Provider (ISP) implemented a self-service mechanism for customers to run network testing immediately instead of waiting for human customer service. By selecting the relevant options from a series of digital self-service menus, RPA robots are automatically triggered to match the customer’s inputs and authorisation details to the equipment profiles, in order to perform a network test in real-time.
By putting the power into the hands of the customer and further enabled by robots, significant time savings were achieved for both the ISP and the end customer. As well as delivering greater customer satisfaction the ISP was able to deliver additional services without the need to educate their employees in additional network testing scenarios.
External use case
A global provider of managed services found the manual processing of documents to be one of their most labour intensive, error prone and expensive administrative processes. By utilising advanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities, the RPA bots could read and extract data from a high volume of scanned documents. The software robots then quickly and efficiently transferred the data to various enterprise applications including SAP, Oracle and salesforce.com as well as the end customers own bespoke systems.
Average processing time was greatly improved and service consistency was achieved across thousands of document types and permutations. There was 100% compliance with processing accuracy leading to cost reductionsand greater employee satisfaction and engagement, as a result of being freed up from the mundane manual processing of documents.
RPA can be utilised on many different levels. For instance, humans can be directly involved and interacting with the robots or, on a more functional level, RPA can be used to build integration between pure machine interfaces e.g. database queries, different APIs etc. The generic connectivity capabilities of RPA enable integration with any machine interface and fulfill any type of automation logic between two machines.
Unattended RPA gets smarter
Unattended automation technology has become commoditised as many enterprises have already successfully adopted it within their business operations. The next step towards smart automation lies in desktop automation technology and a more intelligent personification of desktop automation technology in the form of employee virtual attendants.
Robotics will become more focused on enabling employees to perform their desktop tasks more effectively and efficiently with real time process optimisation and guidance.
Furthermore, the integration of RPA with more cognitive and AI driven tools will also make RPA smarter, as the technology learns from human input and overtime starts to more closely mimic and resemble human actions.
RPA engines only ever have a fixed level of logic that they can bring to the table… so how do we know when we’re at the limit of what any one single engine can do and what happens next? This largely depends on the specific use case. Most RPA platforms have very extensive logical engines that can support any type of use case or logic. In cases where there is a need for a more complicated logic, which cannot be implemented, RPA has the capability to integrate with external 3rd party technology to close any relevant gaps.
Where does RPA do next?
RPA will become more and more intelligent when integrated with cognitive tools to provide more human like capabilities, such as exception handling, auto repair, decisioning and built in optimisation (to facilitate for continuous improvement of an implemented process)
Cross platform connectivity is a given and is already being delivered by most RPA vendors. RPA is moving more towards the employee desktop (Desktop Automation) to better align humans and robots. A more diversified digital workplace will encompass humans and desktop robots working more collaboratively and we will start to see more robots moving from back end servers to the employee’s desktop, enabling employees to perform better.