Why automate just tasks and workflows? Automate the entire flow of work, surfacing only the component that requires human judgment.
Many organizations have spent generous amounts of time and money attempting to automate their business. In the process, they have purchased various workflow, case management, orchestration, business process management (BPM), e-signature and capture tools, trying to automate both content- and data-centric business processes. Nevertheless, getting to even fifty percent automation has been an elusive goal.
The business challenge of eliminating repetitive manual processes is universal, as are the business drivers: freeing up headcount for high-volume processes; reducing costly errors; streamlining processes; ensuring compliance; and freeing from mundane work full-time employees who have more analytical or customer-facing skills. Other approaches to automation such as electronic data interchange (EDI) or traditional systems integration, while typically part of the bigger picture, fall short of automating the end-to-end business process. Even after significant investment, there are still gaps in the automated flow of work.
Some of that is because a business process has a human component, such as a relationship or a judgment call that just can’t be automated… yet. But that is not the point.
The point is to automate the entire flow of work to the maximum extent possible.
Despite these great technologies, the challenge has been surfacing work that requires judgment at the appropriate times. Robotic process automation (RPA) stitches together disparate pieces (people, process, technology) in a systematic way. While some marketing collateral would have you believe that RPA is a standalone solution to all automation, the reality is different. When combined with other technologies, RPA can extend the use cases and bridge nonintegrated and manual processes, bringing together a more integrated solution and value to the business.
There are still components of the overall flow of work across an enterprise that need to be surfaced for human consideration, judgment and decision-making. For example, large commercial credit increases require more than a simplistic application of business rules; they also require intangible considerations such as the strategic importance of an account or personal relationships.
As RPA’s footprint expands, becoming more than just the glue between humans and systems, we will have to deal with fewer and fewer exceptions to automation, freeing us to pursue more creative strategies. Let’s allow humans to do the things that the bots simply aren’t good at. Stay tuned as the second wave of automation will leverage AI, machine learning, and even a virtual data scientist.