They can open email attachments, collect, enter and organize data, fill out forms, move and arrange files and folders, access applications, and perform simple instructions: software robots take on repetitive tasks, which do not require creativity and ingenuity, emulate the activities carried out by humans, using Web applications and the company’s computer system.
Many businesses use them to automate routine, low-value back-office operations, freeing up staff for others more challenging assignments and greater responsibilities. The technology is called Robotic process automation (Rpa): it cuts costs, speeds up processes and reduces the number of errors, often caused by the fatigue and lack of attention typical of us humans.
From the banking sector to the insurance sector, up to transport, many companies have focused on the automation of processes: a market that was worth $ 1.23 billion worldwide in 2020 and that according to some estimates it is destined to exceed 13 billion dollars by 2030.
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The advantages of the Rpa
Last year Dylog Italia, a company that develops and markets management software, bought StudioBoost: this startup creates a cloud software that automates accounting and financial management for small entrepreneurs through robotic process automation techniques. An example of the field of application of this technology, now used not only for back-office operations, but also in front-office operations, that is to say the set of services and tasks that concern relationships with customers. In this case we speak of Attended Automation: the bot configured on the employee’s computer is a sort of virtual assistant that helps him in the execution of tasks, minimizing the margin for errors.
The call centers of banks, insurance companies and health services that use these software have an immediate competitive advantage: the operator and the machine collaborate in real time, a team effort that reduces response times on the phone and speeds up the completion of the various practices. Immediately after ending the call and before moving on to the next one, the call center employee may have to perform a series of operations, such as sending a summary message or email to the customer. Functions that can be performed by its robotic assistant: the bot can be configured to take note of all the salient details during the call, filling in the entries of a predefined template, and then email the information to the recipient. Furthermore, these software can also have a training function and guide the worker in carrying out complex procedures thanks to a series of tips and advice that appear on the computer screen.
Beyond reducing time and simplifying work, this technology cuts costs and optimizes the use of human resources: no longer having to collect, sort and control data, workers can devote themselves fully to analyzing and developing business strategies. After all, machines are faster than people at performing repetitive tasks, are active 24/7, and can be reconfigured and reassigned to other tasks according to the needs of the moment. Again: bots allow you to have full control of the processes, since they are set based on precise parameters. In addition, these software they don’t need a new IT infrastructure, since they adapt to the company information system and to the graphic interface used by human staff.
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The next step
These bots are configured to perform tasks based on defined rules: they are not suitable for carrying out tasks that require a high level of judgment and analysis. However, to extend their field of application also to more complex work processes, some manufacturers are investing in parallel in cognitive technologies, such as machine learning, speech recognition and natural language processing: a convergence that allows us to go beyond simple automation, with bots that can extract and organize information starting from an audio, a text or an image; or identify patterns and make predictions about the results of a process.
a Deloitte’s report recalls the Virgin Trains case, which had used a combination of PRA and cognitive technologies to automatically reimburse people traveling on trains that accumulated delays. Once the customer’s email arrived, a natural language processing tool read it and understood its meaning, identifying the key information needed to satisfy requests quickly and efficiently. At that point the bots executed the refund order. An intelligent automation that had made it possible to reduce the execution time and manual work of those operations by 85%.
Finally, these cognitive technologies can also help businesses analyze errors and redundancy of internal processes and to identify those that are best suited to be performed by machines.
Of course, the benefits associated with robotic process automation are not the only aspects that are being discussed as the user base of these applications grows: some critics argue that a consequence of this trend will be the elimination of many jobs. Surely some occupations will disappear, but from their ashes others are being born, like the engineers and developers who help create these technologies. An evolution that requires workers to have a higher level of qualification and education.