This is a guest post for the Computer Weekly Developer Network written by Jon Theuerkauf, chief customer officer at Blue Prism – and this story forms part of a series of posts on CWDN that dig into the fast-growing topic of Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
Blue Prism’s RPA technology, powered by Microsoft SQL and built on the Microsoft .NET framework, automates applications and supports any platform including mainframe, Windows, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Java.
Blue Prism does not use code and does not hack into the backend of applications; it uses credentials to access applications just as a human employee would.
TechTarget defines Robotic Process Automation as the use of software with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities to handle high-volume, repeatable tasks that previously required humans to perform — these tasks can include queries, calculations and maintenance of records and transactions.
Theuerkauf writes as follows…
Today, RPA adoption is skyrocketing, being used by business operations teams, within large scale, enterprise environments, to replicate process work that was previously done by humans — via automated, ‘digital workers’. I used this technology with great success at BNY Mellon, it provided the means to connect our disparate IT systems helping enable a strategic, business-led, change, that goes far beyond merely automating tasks.
What we’ve dubbed ‘connected-RPA’, is transformational because it’s quick to implement and non-invasive to existing systems. This means digital workers can access and read the user interface to interoperate and orchestrate any third-party application – just as an employee would, so no costly alteration is required. It also means no lengthy design, coding, build, test and rollout projects too. Essentially, the non-technical user is in charge.
The universal connectivity capabilities built into digital workers, also enable them to consume intelligent automation skills through a broad ecosystem of complementary technologies – so they adapt and learn from humans and other systems. This, coupled with the increasingly intelligent way that digital workers operate, is now being harnessed by business users to integrate with and utilise any new or existing technology application.
Business users, who really understand their processes, simply create automated processes in a “Visio-like” designer, which are then used by an easy-to-control, digital worker to manage a task – using the same applications. These users can also easily access leading-edge cloud, AI, cognitive, and other capabilities, through drag and drop, intelligent automation skills. This enables incredibly fast iterations when creating innovations to keep organisations ahead.
Blue Prism extends these automation capabilities with its Digital Exchange (DX) marketplace, comprising of applications that are accessible to customers, resellers and technology partners. In this way, users can incorporate cognitive and AI technologies into their automation projects without incurring any risk.
RPA in practice
Here are 10 examples of what can and is being achieved by integrating connected-RPA with AI and other cognitive technologies:
- Collaborating with AI and machine learning tools for multilingual, automated e-mail processing for inbound customer inquiries and e-mail triage
- Anti-money laundering prevention in conjunction with blockchain technologies and business process management tools
- Automated case handling and resolution for insurance claims
- Automating the extraction of unstructured data
- Using AI tools to gauge sentiment analysis, intensity and mood for customer support–then automatically elevating requests to a customer representative
- Working in conjunction with process mining tools to automatically extract historical records/data research and business intelligence analytics
- Dynamically and automatically verifying legal compliance on complex contracts
- Collaborating with optical character recognition and computer vision technologies to automatically verify identity for loan processing, or transform secured faxes into searchable, text-embedded formats
- Automatic, real-time translation in virtual meetings
- Automatically connecting chatbots and humans for financial transactions, human resources, or customer service requests
Long term sustainability
The key goal for process automation is to deliver longer-term value at scale, so they must be underpinned by a clear vision linked to strategic imperatives – with business users driving it, IT supporting it and other key stakeholders championing it. Automations must then be carefully planned, modelled, designed and centrally pooled for re-use. It’s also best to either make processes more efficient, prior to automating – or to redesign them during the design phase. Organisations will then be able to re-imagine processes and organisational structure with a wider range of more innovative, impactful, RPA use cases across the enterprise.
Ultimately, organisations will automate more – by expanding on their early efforts, more intelligently and strategically with insight, and they’ll automate better – by building and running higher quality process automations, faster and more easily for the long term.