Data: The Secret to Robotic Process Automation

January 3, 2019

7 minute read

Businesses are always on the lookout for ways to make their processes more efficient. Whether the goal is reducing the amount of time spent doing menial tasks or increasing customer response time, finding these efficiencies can greatly impact the overall success of a business. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of the new technologies that companies across various industries are implementing to become more efficient. In general, they’re doing so because of its low barriers to entry such as its reasonable cost of implementation and its ability to be quickly put into place.

How does RPA work?

RPA, in its simplest form, means using software robots or bots to execute tasks in a workflow – usually tasks that are time consuming and repetitive and that eat up resources.

There are three ways a company can get started with RPA:

  • Programming the robots – Programmers tell the software robots which applications to use and how they are supposed to interact with those applications during the course of executing a task or process.
  • Using click automation – Users record themselves doing a task or series of tasks and then use the recording to teach the bots how to complete that task or set of tasks.
  • With a graphic user interface (GUI) – Proprietary applications allow users to drag and drop commands for a robot, enabling it to complete the required task or set of tasks.

One of the main advantages of RPA is that it doesn’t necessarily require programming (although, of course, it can be programmed), which means that an organization can implement it quickly and without investing a lot of capital in getting started. Considering the relative ease of implementing base-level RPA, it’s surprising that only 3% of companies are taking advantage of this technology.

Advantages of RPA

RPA can help an organization in a variety of ways, such as streamlining customer onboarding or other client-facing processes, performing data entry and even enhancing compliance, by having software robots extract personally identifiable information (PII) from data. Additionally, RPA can improve efficiency within an organization by eliminating the possibility of human errors. RPA has proven to be so effective that insurance giant Aflac has started using it to implement their One Day Pay initiative to help get money to their customers faster. This sort of speed gives businesses a huge advantage over competitors who are still doing things the old-fashioned way.

RPA also makes it easy to scale effectively and quickly by eliminating the need to hire and train more employees as an organization grows. This happens because bots can be brought into the picture faster and more effectively than people can. This eliminates the time required to train new employees and ensures that all work is done to the standards required by the company. Since the software robots won’t need time to adapt to performing a new process, they can simply start at full speed as soon as they’re trained.

How does data fit into the picture?

RPA, is not fully plug-and-play; there are some roadblocks that can prevent bots from learning a complete task. These roadblocks typically emerge when the need to refer to entries in a document comes into a process. The trouble is, software robots cannot process various types of unstructured data and as a result there can sometimes be a gap in the process where a person has to step in and look something up. Documents like scanned images are a great example of this, especially if the image contains words, such as a scanned paper application form. The robots cannot interpret what’s on the form without help, so a person has to be involved in this step. In short, RPA is highly effective for working with structured data, but unstructured data can cause a slowdown.

Given that upwards of 80% of most companies’ data is unstructured, full business and process automation is likely prevented much more often than it needs to be. It all comes down to the quality of an organization’s data.

If an organization is looking to implement RPA, then having a superior data capture and extraction solution in place is essential. Access to clean, high-quality data allows bots to utilize the information they need to effectively carry out a process exactly as a human would. Put another way, unlocking your organization’s unstructured data lets you create smarter software robots that are capable of automating more because they’re not being stopped by sources of data they can’t work with.

Wrap up

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) gives companies an opportunity to increase overall operational efficiency and re-allocate human resources towards high-impact activities. But without clean, accessible, high-quality data, companies can’t really take advantage of RPA.

Adlib Elevate lets you take your company’s business process automation to the next level by bringing structure to your unstructured data and improving its overall quality, making it possible for software robots to access and use it. This enables you to create more efficient automation workflows, giving your employees the time they need to focus on the high-impact tasks that directly impact overall customer experience and your company’s bottom-line. If you’d like to see how implementing RPA could help your business, contact us to set up an in-depth product walk-through.

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