Robotic Process Automation Technology Overview

Business Process Transformation – Application of Technology Levers

In past few decades, Business Process Transformation has been one of the strategic focus areas for most of the Business Houses, primarily to enhance their productivity & efficiency. This also helps them laying foundation of growth & new opportunities at the same time. After successfully leveraging strategies like, outsourcing, low cost locations & Business process optimization, now the next focus is on “Technology”.

Four waves of Business Process Operations

Business Process Operations Industry has evolved with the help of four different waves, over time.  It started with a wave of Process re-engineering which was primarily focused towards process standardization and optimization with the help of levers like Lean, sig sigma & simple digitization. Then, it moved to a wave of resource optimization focusing more towards staff optimization. Outsourcing, offshoring and pyramid refresh were few strategies which got leveraged.

In last few years, the Industry has moved towards Automation with a clear focus on rule-based Automation. Levers like Basic task automation using macros, Robotic Process Automation, optical character recognition, Analytics, e2e work-flow management, etc. came handy and now getting matured to kick-start the new wave… The wave of intelligent Automation, where Industry started focusing much more than productivity improvement. Utilizing Technology to up-sell or cross-sell, providing better customer experience, etc. are few such objectives shaping up. This wave is focused towards building artificial intelligence leveraging cognitive technologies or sophisticated algorithms. Chat-bots, Real-time predictive analytics, unstructured text reading, cognitive OCR, language translation, etc. are few levers getting explored here.

Business Process Transformation Framework

Typically, Technology levers are utilized under the wrapper of Business Process Re-engineering with strong support from Business domain knowledge and Business process operations expertise. These levers when applied in conjunction to each other, creates unique solution patterns helping Businesses to meet their objectives in more advanced and efficient manner.

Key technology levers in the context of business process transformation can be defined as follows,

Document Ingestion

Often business processes start with accessing documents at some pre-defined place, like File folders, Emails, etc.. Then, extracting information out of them irrespective of their formats like Excel, pdf, word, ppt, xml, etc… and finally process the information as per defined process steps.

 

Extracting information out of documents has always been tricky area for Technologists, considering complexities like multiple or undefined templates, hand-written text, poorly scanned document, making sense out of images or may be free text written in notes format. Multiple technology solutions have evolved in this space over last few decades.

Optical character recognition (OCR) is the oldest technology available here, which got further advanced with sophisticated Image processing and OCR algorithms. Multiple products and open source engines like tesseract, Modi, etc. are prevalent in the Industry.

Intelligent character recognition (ICR) is focusing on hand-written text and currently in evolving state. Though many technology organizations have already cracked this problem to a large extent, but accuracy is always an issue.

Cognitive algorithms are continuously on the build to provide both generic and business domain specific solutions in this space. Signature matching, Making sense out of unstructured text, etc. are few examples.

Digitization at source

Bouquet of technologies like mobile applications, Internet of Things (IOT), Business specific platforms, Chat Bots, etc. to digitize data at the source. Typically, this aims at providing intuitive user interface to the end-customer. These days, chat Bots are playing key role at this layer. Chat Bots, powered with natural language processing engine, cognitive algorithms, and robust integration techniques with business applications are slowly getting good traction from every Enterprise.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

IT layer which mimics the way human agent interacts with IT system(s) to execute any process, typically with the help of pre-defined business logic. Any business process which is manual, repetitive and business rules based is the ideal candidate for Automation irrespective of its business domain. This also serves as orchestration layer for most of the technologies to integrate on a common platform and enable Business operations team with true digital workforce.

As RPA Interacts with any IT application (web, windows, legacy, etc.) using non-invasive techniques, faster to implement with rapid pay-back periods, it becomes an obvious choice to be adopted by Business hubs as against full-fledged, expensive & long-term IT solutions. It is now a proven fact that RPA has got a potential to extract 20 to 80% productivity improvement in any process. But the trick lies in defining the right strategy and roadmap to implement the same.

As market has observed exponential growth and evolution of RPA technologies in last few Years, it becomes important to have a careful selection of Products. Apart from Company’s performance, credentials and their Product commercials, the other important consideration revolves around its current abilities and future roadmap. Product’s flexibility to integrate with different technologies and supporting enterprise level centralized Architecture to promote the virtual workforce concept in true sense, is the most important criteria to evaluate the current abilities. Alignment of Product’s roadmap with emerging trends like Artificial intelligence, business domain specific solutions and e2e Business Process management workbench, is another aspect to consider.

Analytics

As data is getting digital with Business process automation, it brings enough opportunities for Technologists to exploit the Analytics space to provide real-time business value. Gone are days, where Analytics space were used only in batch mode only for strategic decision making. Today, the Capabilities are getting built to provide insights into the operational efficiencies and help in decision making on a day-to-day basis.

Reporting

Capability to provide integrated operational and strategic reports for efficient management of the complete system.

Business Process Management (BPM)

Single platform to manage and execute the complete business process with the help of work flow management, rules engine, business domain specific user interface, integration layer with legacy applications, analytics and Reporting engine.

Exponential growth in Technology advancement clubbed with focused approach from IT Industry, is resulting in suite of amazing solution patterns having capability to solve almost every other possible use case falling under Business Process Transformation. Industry has observed exponential growth and evolution of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technologies in last couple of Years. The growth will continue for next few Years with primary focus on innovation and stabilization.