The Customer Service Journal

Volume 5 October, 2019

Knowledge for the world of customer service & support

ISSN: 2374-9296

Robotic Process Automation, or as it is commonly referred to RPA, is one of the more exciting technology developments in recent years.   There is considerable speculation by analysts such as Gartner and Horses for Sources on its impact on the BPO industry.   It is based on the anticipation of how RPA will impact back-office processes performed by off-shore centers.   We believe that this is only the tip of the old proverbial iceberg.   As evidence of this consider IPsoft, a visionary leader of autonomic and cognitive solutions, that uses its software robotics suite to help clients transform their business processes.

Software Robotic Automation has been around since 2008 but lately this technology has become more notable as it has matured and as Fortune 100 enterprises have adopted it with its agile approach that can save literally thousands of dollars at a minimal cost in a short development cycle

While some will think of RPA as being part of Business Process Automation, RPA is quite different from a number of different perspectives:

  • BPA is often combined with Business Process Management as a total solution for optimizing and streamlining business processes
  • RPA runs outside of the IT application infrastructure interfacing with it in the same way as users working from workstations
  • Typically the RPA Bots are priced on a consumption model where customers pay for a number of bot run-times.

Highly scalable, hundreds of thousands of Bots can be running simultaneously with each bot potentially replacing two full-time employee shifts at a third of the cost, and RPA Bots can work in unison with people.  When they encounter a decision that they cannot make they can pass the transaction or work stream back to a worker who is better equipped to decide the next action to be taken.  They can learn by monitoring the decisions being made by the skilled worker and then apply that decision-making in the future without having to pass the transaction back to the worker.

RPA cannot replace the interactions between the customers and the service staff.  RPA's true value lies in the performing of many of the mundane tasks that take place as a result of the customer interaction. This is particularly true when the transactions have to occur across multiple systems requiring a complicated process of retrieval and updating.

One example of how RPA has been applied is in the signing up of a new cell user which often requires scores of steps and a binder of process documentation.. From personal experience I have seen the use of a Bot in updating of a corporate customer’s web site with order fulfillment information when the data required comes from a number of different manufacturing data bases.   In this real-world example the Bot took less than 30 min to perform the work that took a CSR 8 hrs to complete.  The bot was developed in less than three weeks and that included testing and deployment.  There are but two examples.   As RPA matures with its cognitive computing power we can expect to see segments of todays workforce being replaced by robotics.

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