The Customer Service Journal

Knowledge for the World of Customer Service & Support

Volume 5 October 2019

ISSN: 2374-9296

Robotic Process Automation News & Commentary


Ashley Hudson

The Enterprisers Project


Robotic Process Automation (RPA): 3 use cases to consider


Robotic process automation (RPA) is primed to revolutionize the way companies operate, serve customers, and manage data. A 2017 survey by Redwood Software reports that 83 percent of IT decision-makers believe robotic automation is key to their digital transformation strategy, and companies are increasingly investing to automate repetitive tasks, with 59 percent of business processes expected to be automated by 2022. This boom could provide a platform for human creativity: RPA experts highlight the positive effects that automation is likely to have on the labor force and, more generally, the way we work and the skills we use.


Success will arise from communication and coordination between human capabilities and robotic processing power. With RPA primed to play a critical role in digital transformation, it is vital that CIOs carefully consider how to incorporate automation into their strategy.

There is no one right first use case, but several areas can lead to early wins. Here are three crucial areas worth exploring as you develop your RPA journey.



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Global Newswire


Integra Global Solutions announces partnership with intelligent automation leader, Thoughtonomy (a Blueprism company), to help companies accelerate digital transformation.


Pittsburgh, PA, Aug. 27, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Integra Global Solutions, a company specialized in robotic process implementation, business processes, business transformation, and performance enhancement for clients across several countries, partners with Thoughtonomy, the leading SaaS intelligent robotic process automation platform.


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George V. Hulme


The Barriers to Robotic Process Automation, Part 1


It sounds alluring enough: Intelligent bots step up and do the menial tasks humans would rather (probably) not be doing–or employers would rather they not, in order to slash costs. But streamlining business processes with robotic process automation (RPA) isn’t as easy as setting and forgetting a software bot as if it was an automated rotisserie.


Successful Transformation: Challenge the Status Quo

Still, many enterprises forge ahead as if that’s the case. This rush forward is likely one of the top reasons, as consultancy Ernst & Young found, as many as 30% to 50% of initial RPA projects fail.


This isn’t a reflection of RPA technology or its capabilities. It’s generally the result of organizations rushing forward without doing the right upfront work necessary to prepare for heightened software autonomy and automation. To find answers, we reached out to experts to get their thoughts on the most common barriers to the effective enterprise deployment of intelligent automation.


“The number one success factor for intelligent automation is visible sponsorship,” said Jesse Tutt CEO at mattress company Gotta Sleep. Tutt claimed having visible sponsorship is essential because the biggest barrier to RPA success is often resistance from both management and staff.


“Management often have little capacity to allocate time to improvement and secondly resist intelligent automation as they have a perception it may negatively impact staff satisfaction,” said Tutt.


Tutt said the second barrier is the lack of staff with broad skillsets in data, analytics, software development and RPA necessary to succeed. Good data is necessary to support the analytics that will drive the automation.


In addition to data and analytics skills, automation teams also need to be good software developers. Typically, most automation projects are accomplished through direct database or API interaction, Tutt explained.


“Lastly, in cases where systems are antiquated, are only accessible published applications, or which require mouse or keystroke interactions, robotic process automation skills are required,” said Tutt.


Salvatore Stolfo, founder and CTO at Allure Security adds another barrier: the elusiveness of the AI-powered minimum viable product (MVP). Stolfo said, like any complex application, the difficulty is driven predominately by the complexity of the problem, business considerations and computational constraints.


“To achieve an MVP, the performance of the machine learning engine must achieve accuracy levels that make the application work well enough for the intended market solution. There is no magic bullet,” said Stolfo.


Niraj Patel, managing director, artificial intelligence practice at enterprise technology consultancy DMI, said enterprises are floundering when it comes to RPA because they spend insufficient time understanding the customer experience and therefore the ultimate value derived from automation; they lack clean data sources which gets in the way of generating the intelligence; and legacy applications that don’t lend to plug-play of newer modules such as RPA and machine language components; and unrealistic expectations when it comes to robotic software processes.


In part 2 of this story, we will tackle how organizations can beat the barriers to robotic process automation.



Editor's Note:
The full article is presented above




Andy Walter, Former Global IT & Shared Services VP, Procter and Gamble



The Dark Side of Robotic Process Automation


Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is undeniably red-hot these days. Enterprises are adopting RPA at staggering rates to increase operational efficiency—but when I discuss RPA with fellow CIOs or Global Shared Services Leaders, the most common topic of discussion is the serious issue with scaling RPA in the enterprise.


Forrester is reporting that 86% of organizations adopting RPA are experienced increased efficiency, 67% gained deeper insights into customers, and 57% improved customer service. At the same time, recent surveys by Deloitte and EY found that approximately half of RPA projects fail, and most of those that “succeed” do not deliver the expected ROI.


What’s behind this disconnect? And how do you ensure that your organization joins the ranks of the RPA success stories, not the RPA disappointments?


Breaking Bots Lead to the RPA Death Spiral


“Breaking bots” has fast emerged as the #1 enemy to RPA success. With easy access to UI-based automation, line of business (LOB) owners create RPA bots to automate processes without having to ask for (and wait for) IT/development assistance. After a little trial and error, they can get basic automation up and running. But, sooner or later, something changes. Interfaces are optimized. Data formats evolve. Or maybe connected/dependent systems are upgraded. Regardless of the cause, the outcome is the same: broken bots. Each time a bot breaks, the LOB requires technical assistance to diagnose and fix the cause…until the next time something breaks. Shared services organizations who are not working closely with IT are often hit the hardest!


This is what’s become known as the RPA Death Spiral. To avoid this death spiral, RPA bots must be resilient to change and bot maintenance must be simple and straightforward…which eliminates the popular script-based approaches. Otherwise, RPA is simply short-lived automation that creates technical debt—leaving the organization at risk since automation fails to execute the required tasks.



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Customer Think

Suresh Sambandam


BPM – The Journey Thus Far and The Road Ahead


The concept of business process management has evolved impressively from its humble beginnings.

The notion of processes came about as early as 1776 when Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations spoke of division of labor (i.e. multiple performers working on different functions).

Fredrick Winslow Taylor introduced the idea of process improvement in 1911 when he wrote The Principles of Scientific Management. He emphasized the scientific study of work, standardization of processes, systematic training, and sound structure of employees and management. Peter Drucker’s work took a more understanding approach to employees and focused on simplification and decentralization. He also highlighted the idea of serving the customer.

With the onset of the industrial revolution, machines began to take on labor-intensive work, increasing the need to heighten efficiency.

In the late 1900s, process improvement efforts became more sophisticated in methodology and the first signs of computer technology-driven processes began to appear.

In the 1980s, FileNet developed the first digital workflow management system to route scanned documents through a predefined process. In 1986 Motorola introduced the Six Sigma methodology of process management, which focused on improvement of quality. It drew inspiration from the Total Quality Management method among others.

Lean was introduced in the early 1990s, which aimed to eliminate wastage from processes. By the late 1990s, Six Sigma was part of many large enterprises that wished to improve quality and reduce costs.

In the 2000s, Gartner coined the term Business Process Management Suites to refer to a collection of software that deal with processes. BPM software began to incorporate functions such as process modeling, management, reporting and analytics.

In the last decade, Gartner coined the term iBPM or intelligent BPM to refer to suites that include support for analytics and complex event processing.


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PR Newswire


Here Come the Logistics Bots: RPA Labs Automates Customer Interaction and Documentation Processes


SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- A new technology company, RPA Labs, has unveiled robotic process automation designed to speed up data entry, documentation, customer interactions, and other repetitive work for logistics and transportation companies.


Co-founded by industry veterans Matt Motsick and Suraj Menon, RPA Labs aims to automate many of the time-consuming, menial tasks of logistics work with cutting edge technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. RPA Labs' innovative robotic process automation (RPA) can quickly align with a transportation company's existing ERP, CMS or accounting software, performing tasks as varied as inputting data, providing quotes, responding to emails and handling common customer requests.


The technology helps logistics companies move faster in meeting ever-increasing customer demands, said Motsick, who is RPA Labs' CEO. Artificial intelligence and machine learning "bots" free employees from back-office workflow processes, allowing them to do more impactful, creative work. RPA also reduces the "portal fatigue" workers experience from having to use multiple software programs at the same time.


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Laurianne McLaughlin

The Enterprisers Project


7 Robotic Process Automation (RPA) must-reads


Trying to learn more about Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and what it could do for your organization? Check out practical information on the difference between RPA and AI, how to identify RPA opportunities, success metrics, and more

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has captured the interest of IT for good reason: It promises to automate repetitive work, freeing up precious IT talent for more innovative work. In the IT leadership world, that’s like the Holy Grail.


A good deal of confusion exists around what RPA is – and is not – and how it relates to AI.

Yet, as we’ve heard from our community of IT leaders during the past few months, a good deal of confusion exists around what RPA is – and is not – and how RPA relates to the larger topic of artificial intelligence. There’s also a good deal of fear: When some people hear RPA, they hear "job loss."


Against this backdrop, it’s important to understand the technology’s strengths, how it fits into the AI ecosystem, how to talk about it to non-techies, and how to figure out where it can - and can’t - help your organization. You also need to know how to make your case and measure the success of pilot projects.


We’ve curated a shortlist of RPA articles fit for IT and business leaders alike to get you up to speed. Fair warning: You won’t find any dancing robots here, or even any with arms or legs. As Enterprisers Project’s Kevin Casey has reported, that’s another RPA misconception you’ll need to counter. The “robot” in robotic process automation is software running on a physical or virtual machine.



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Kevin Casey

The Enterprisers Project


8 Robotic Process Automation (RPA) training and certification courses


Want to gain robotic process automation skills? Check out these 8 RPA training options - for IT leaders and people in finance, customer service, and related functions


Robotic process automation (RPA) is already in full swing in many organizations: More than half (53 percent) of respondents in Deloitte’s 2018 Global RPA Survey, for instance, said their “RPA journey” was already underway. The survey projected that figure to hit 72 percent in two years time, or 2020.


That almost sounds bland, though, when you consider this additional comment in the survey report about current growth in RPA adoption: “If this continues at its current level, RPA will have achieved near-universal adoption within the next five years,” Deloitte says.


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