Automate to work smarter.
Generally, terms like “Digital Transformation” have been too broad and confusing, and as a result, companies do not know where to begin, which leads to frustration and failure. However, the truth is that a complete Digital Transformation will require more than one technology; hence the term Intelligent Automation, which is basically the automation of the company’s processes (including general corporate-level processes using BPM and specific task-level processes using RPA), supported by analytics and decisions made by Artificial Intelligence.
WHAT IS AUTOMATION
Automation is a term that describes a holistic solution for digital transformation, mainly based on process management (BPM) to orchestrate processes, users, tasks and systems, and robots (RPA) depending on the business needs at each moment.
On the other hand, it also contemplates the use of analytics and AI (especially Machine learning) to make automated and intelligent decisions, and case management to provide processes with enough flexibility for end-to-end case management success.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that another key feature of this trend is the integration between the different systems used in the company. Integration will prevent the duplication of data in the systems and users will need only work on one platform.
In fact, automation has different levels of maturity. Successful automation strategies start with Basic Automation, and might go to the level of Hyper Automation, by achieving the Enhanced and Intelligent automation levels first. Automation could be part of a larger digital strategy, leading to innovation and distruptive change.
THE 4 PILLARS OF AUTOMATION
As simple as the term may sound, we are faced with the usual problem: “Ok, I understand, but how do I start to apply this transformation?”. Well, Automation is here to stay, since it proposes concrete solutions; in short, it consists of a successful and interconnected implementation of 4 key technologies, so let’s break them down and explain the role each one plays:
Business Process Management (BPM)
BPM is a process design and automation technology that includes the efficient coordination of people, systems, and data. The objective of BPM is to ensure that the operational and business process infrastructure is solid. Therefore, it acts as a base layer in the organization, automating the behavior of complex processes that require people to intervene in data entry and decision making, the use of systems at specific moments such as calculations or integrations, control of actions, and data generation and storage.
In other words, BPM plays the role of “orchestra conductor” in the organization, assigning which employee, external user, or system should act at each moment, and ensuring the complete tracking and storage of all the information that is exchanged and generated during the process, from beginning to end.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Robotic Process Automation is a technology which aims to reduce human intervention in computer applications, especially in repetitive tasks that vary very little in each iteration. RPA works primarily by interacting with “high level” applications, which are the software layers at the graphic interface level, as oppose to machine language or programming code.
Put more simply, it is a type of software that emulates the real interaction that a human would have with conventional computer applications. This technology is suitable to replace simple and repetitive manual tasks such as data entry in applications. This means that employees have more time to focus on other branches of value for the company such as decision-making or improving customer relations. It is a relatively fast technology to implement and can therefore bring immediate benefits to a company through time and cost savings, especially if it can be applied in the bottlenecks of certain processes.
Artificial Intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence by machines. In other words, it is the discipline that tries to create systems capable of learning and reasoning like a human being. Artificial Intelligence encompasses other concepts such as Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Visual Recognition, Big Data, etc.
Although it is a very broad concept and covers many levels (from simple automations to complex virtual assistants), it is worth highlighting the following virtues in the current business environment:
Deciphering patterns from previous experience.
Intelligent decision making.
Prescriptive and predictive analytics.
Improving the user experience.
The connection and integration between systems is one of the biggest headaches for a company, since each system or software has its own peculiarities. They generally offer an Application Programming Interface (API) to interact with, which is usually based on some standard such as SOAP (applied in Web Services) or REST (based on HTTP protocol), for example.