Connected RPA allows an enterprise to not only build and deploy a Digital Workforce quickly and easily but also ensure secure connectivity between digital workers and the rest of people, processes and systems.
Bob and Zac, two digital workers employed by Singapore-based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. (OCBC) have done something extraordinary. Bob works in the secured lending team and is able to re-price home loans in just one minute, compared to the normal 45 minutes that it would take for any other employee. Thanks to this astonishing level of productivity, processing time for home loans restructuring has been reduced by 97%, as Bob can process more than 100 housing loan restructuring applications a day.
Zac on the other hand generates daily sales performance reports in just 12 minutes, something that would take a human employee more than two hours. The management team now receives the report at 9am daily, instead of at 4pm.
Bob and Zac are not humans – they are powered by Robotic Process Automation (RPA), which combines robotic automation with artificial intelligence (AI) to automate human activities for large enterprises. In turn, enterprises around the world are lining up to deploy these digital workers in their own businesses.
According to Gartner, RPA is the fastest growing segment of the global enterprise software market. RPA software revenues grew by 63% in 2018 to reach $846 million, and are further expected to reach $1.3 billion in 2019. Gartner also says that while RPA is transforming the enterprises across industries, its biggest adopters are banks, insurance companies, telcos and utilities.
There are two key reasons why banks and financial services companies have been the frontrunners of implementing robotic process automation (RPA) from the earliest days. First is regulatory compliance; the BFSI industry is among the most heavily regulated around the world and needs thorough compliance with myriad laws, policies and procedures laid down by central banks, governments, insurance and other regulators.
Second is the pervasiveness of paperwork in banking workflows, which necessitates extensive and monotonous data entry. When digital workers take over data entry and other repetitive tasks, they not only reduce employee workloads and cut costs; but also guarantee 100% accuracy and thus full compliance.
From RPA to Connected RPA
Today, RPA implementation is typically at the core of a modern enterprise’s digital transformation initiatives as it can allow the business to reap the benefits of automation without sacrificing expensive investments in legacy systems. It is worth emphasizing that several existing legacy systems are not only mission-critical, they are also well-entrenched on account of being used by a large number of employees over several years or decades. The question thus arises: can RPA be implemented without expensive and extensive modifications to existing systems?
The answer lies in the evolution of RPA to what we know as ‘Connected RPA’, a wholly new approach that is transformational because it is quick to implement and doesn’t require any coding. In essence, Connected RPA brings forward new generation of digital workers who can access and read the user interface of legacy systems to interoperate and orchestrate any third-party application – just as any other employee would. For the first-time ever, the non-technical user is in charge of an IT project.
The new generation digital workers thus have universal connectivity capabilities built inside, which allows them to learn intelligent automation skills through a broad ecosystem of complementary technologies. In other words, business users who don’t understand IT can quickly train their digital workers to integrate with and utilise any new or existing application. They can also create automated processes in their existing applications using a drag-and-drop visual tool and pass it on to their digital worker to execute them.
Ultimately, Connected RPA allows an enterprise to not only build and deploy a Digital Workforce quickly and easily but also ensure secure connectivity between digital workers and the rest of people, processes and systems.
The future is autonomous
Integrating Connected-RPA with AI and ML is already delivering results across various domains and uses cases. Insurance companies are using automated case handling and resolution for insurance claims, while banks are implementing automated anti-money laundering prevention in conjunction with blockchain technologies and business process management tools. For customer support, the integration of Connected-RPA with AI is enabling multilingual, automated e-mail processing for inbound customer inquiries. Other companies are testing AI tools to gauge sentiment analysis, intensity, and mood for customer support–then automatically elevating requests to a customer representative.
The ability of Connected-RPA to work across ecosystems means that well-designed RPA tools can adapt to entirely new enterprise ecosystems being built around AI, ML, blockchain and other transformative technologies. In fact, it can be safely predicted that Connected-RPA will continue to evolve even as it gets better at delivering autonomous process automation in the future.