What is Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic Process Automation (abbreviation: RPA) is more than just a technology for robot-supported business process automation. At the same time, it is a procedural model, framework and, last but not least, a newly established corporate philosophy that aims to re-examine all of your company's processes in terms of timeliness, appropriateness and performance in order to take account of the processes within and outside your company that are accelerating as digitalization grows to wear.
In concrete terms, the next step is to use robots to automate processes that have different properties, with the aim of increasing reliability, speed, simplicity and safety, while reducing the original process costs associated with carrying out the process Risks and dependence on external resources.
Goals of Robotic Process Automation at aglance:
- Reduction of costs for repetitive activities
- Avoiding the risks of human error
- Relief for employees to focus on value-adding processes
- Increasing process speeds
- Independence from the skills shortage
- Process continuity and stability even in times of social and / or economic challenges (triggered e.g. by Corona Virus)
- Preservation of the valuable company, process and specialist know-how of particularly important employees
How does Robotic Process Automation work?
Particularly advanced RPA solutions use robots, often referred to as bots, to simulate the business process-relevant behavior of a person in relation to the performance of regular or event-based repetitive activities, so-called processes, which in turn consist of individual workflows, a workflow itself can trigger and start an entire process again.
To do this, use e.g. Sensors (machine vision systems, cameras, machine listening systems, microphones) and kinematics (robot arms with grippers or even hands) for operating touch devices such as smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes (STBs), vending machines or cockpits or use them even a voice to operate and control voice-controlled software and systems - so-called Voice Controlled Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI).
The easier and more flexible the selected RPA solution is to use, the more versatile it can be used in your company, and the more economic benefits you will get from Robotic Process Automation.
Fabrizio Biscotti - Vice President Analyst at Gartner formulated a very important, far-sighted and deep requirement for RPA systems in the following statement:
"The ability to INTEGRATE LEGACY SYSTEMS is the KEY DRIVER for RPA projects. By using this technology, organizations can quickly accelerate their digital transformation initiatives, while unlocking the VALUE associated with PAST TECHNOLOGY investments. "
The statement by Mr. Fabrizio Biscotti is therefore extremely forward-looking and ingenious, since it clarifies the advantage of a robotic process automation solution that actually manages to efficiently transfer the value of past legacy system investments into automation. RPA solutions that are not able to control your existing Sun Solaris, Linux, Mac OS or aging ERP systems,
may not be your first choice. Another crucial criterion for an RPA solution to work for you and your (future?) Processes is the ability to integrate voice-controlled devices and systems into your RPA processes ...
RPA example 1:
- Automatic login to various portals for downloading digital online invoices in a specific directory on the computer.
- Then create a zip file from the list of invoices.
- Automatic sending of the generated zip file to the company's accounting or a tax office.
- Audit-proof report generation and evidence for the auditors on the individual process steps
- Repeat this process monthly.
RPA example 2:
- Provision of a drug in a medical device using kinematics.
- Retrieving patient data from a backend system and checking the patient status.
- Quantity and time-controlled delivery of the medication by the RPA robot (supervised / not supervised).
- Complete documentation of these drug delivery processes and monitoring of the patient's system status.
RPA example 3:
- Login to various backend systems to access performance data (e.g. number of parallel users of a web portal).
- Triggering different alarms to different stakeholders in the respective reporting format when threshold values are exceeded.
- Automatic implementation of risk mitigation measures.
- Revision-proof documentation of the live monitoring and implemented measures for risk mitigation.
RPA example 4:
- Check for incoming mail with a known sender and / or mail subject to commission an advertising campaign.
- Reading out the relevant data from the mail.
- Login to a campaign management tool and automatic creation of the advertising campaign.
- Login to another portal to link the created campaign with other business objects.
- Login to an AdManagement Tool to automatically check the delivery of related commercials.
RPA example 5:
- Test automation of a ticket machine.
- Test buying a ticket.
- Login to an associated customer bonus system to check the correct booking of the bonus points.
- Login to an ERP system to check the correct transfer and booking of the related financial transaction.
- Revision-proof documentation of all associated processes.
RPA and ethics
Does Robotic Process Automation destroy jobs?
Theoretically: yes. Practical: mostly not. How does that come? The easier an RPA solution is to use, the more employees in your company are able to automate their own repetitive activities. This saves you enormous costs that you otherwise incur due to scarce and very expensive resources (e.g. software developers, test automation engineers). In addition, there is no time and effort for the transmission
the know-how already available to your employees on expensive developers who sometimes do not really understand your business and related processes. After automating your own repetitive activities, these employees can support you and your colleagues in automating other business processes or concentrate on the tasks that really add value to your company
to do that benefit from human creativity, empathy and enthusiasm. Try it out for yourself to use the employees who are relieved by Robotic Process Automation, to address your customers even more personally and individually and examine the resulting business contribution ...
In any case, it is a fact that digitization is just beginning, as new technological possibilities are just as disruptive as the global spread of smartphones and tablets.
"In a properly automated and educated world, then, machines may prove to be the true humanizing influence. It may be that machines will do the work that makes life possible and that human beings will do all the other things that make life pleasant and worthwhile. "
(Quote: Isaac Asimov - Robot Vision)