This article discusses the role of Product thinking in the area of Robotic Process Automation. Robotic Process Automation is the core tool that helps enterprises undergo digital transformation through automation. To build a superior RPA product we need to think beyond the tool and design the product according to customer requirements. The customer requirements will in turn decipher what augmenting technologies are to be clubbed with RPA to create efﬁciencies when it concerns digital transformation.
RPA might be the core of the solution an organization might require to transform their business processes but we need to consider the use of RPA technology as one part of a holistic automation approach. Augmenting RPA with other technologies – taking a broader, more strategic approach to automation is often called Intelligent Process Automation (Dutton, 2018). This article tries to delve deeper into how Robotic Process Automation can be enhanced through these technologies and what course these amalgamated technologies will take in the future when it concerns not just the product but how it enhances the consumers interaction with the product itself.
Robotic Process Automation: Underlying principles for selection of the RPA product
RPA is typically a tool employed in a digital process to make the process more efﬁcient and is not a product in itself. What makes this tool a product is how it is utilized to improve the particular complication that the process presents itself with. A holistic RPA product would require thinking on multiple levels across numerous touchpoints depending on the transformation need of the client. These four dimensions before choosing any RPA software need to be considered:
How will augmenting technologies shape the future of Robotics Process Automation?
The ﬁrst level would involve building an ecosystem of augmenting technologies that can make RPA more effective. Robotics, optical character recognition, process orchestrator, analytics, Machine Learning from the underlying systems for Smart RPA solutions. These technologies are applied according to the process they are automating. Coupling RPA with a blend of AI technologies, such as computer vision, optical charac-ter recognition (OCR), Natural language processing to process all types of documents, extract relevant information and feed output into downstream appli-cations is called Intelligent Document Processing. Banking and Financial Services and Insurance have been the early adopters of IDP with over 50% share followed closely by Consumer packaged goods (CGP) (Everest Global Inc., 2018). Each industry has a common operation inefﬁciency that needs to be solved. The combination of RPA and these augmenting technologies come together to form an integrated product that slowly specializes in the particular vertical. Finance & Accounting has large amounts of unstructured data that is processed on a daily basis and Intelligent Automation can help automate these tasks with the help of AI-enabled technologies.
Maximizing the potential of smart RPA through enhancing customer experience
The second level would involve examining the process it is being applied to and the third level would involve making it convenient to use for the human agents that will be involved in the process. This would require the utilization of foundational capabilities to drive rapid and sustainable implementation.
The zero-based design approach encourages people to cast aside assumptions to expand the scope of discovery. The factors to transform customer experience are:
Organizations can make the digital journey relevant to the consumers through
Customer Journey Transformation becomes extremely important especially where RPA has reached a maturity level. Banking and ﬁnancial services tend to be front runners when it concerns the level of maturity achieved by RPA. Organizations then look beyond just the more tangible beneﬁts achieved by automation and look to enhance the quality of the user experience. The ‘customer journey’ will take precedence over the channel used to reach out to the consumer thereby allowing companies to develop more compelling propositions and deliver more streamlined products and services. This will be facilitated by customer self-service through emerging technologies like mobile messaging, phone-based communication. Combining separate cloud environments into a uniﬁed hybrid platform increases the efﬁciency of the organization; eliminating duplication of efforts and potential security risks are some of the examples of an augmenting technology enhancing the customer experience of the enterprise.
RPA as a product would typically involve thinking across the three layers that would make an overall process more efficient. Each layer within the entire product would be tied to various end objectives that are typically defined by the client. The customer journey would typically be used to extract the consumer requirements from the process. As a product concept, the effect that RPA will have on the overall journey should be looked at from a down-up perspective since the RPA/Augmenting Technologies have to interact with either the consumer or the orchestrator. To maximize the human synergy, it is important we design the product and its implementation depending on the end user.
RPA is a tool that is supposed to increase the efficiency of the process beyond what simplification, standardization and workflow management can provide therefore it is important to have a strong base on which your RPA solution is built. Majority of the RPA software providers are single-mindedly focusing on adding features to their product but the effective usage of these features can only come about through a process that is efficient in itself. So it is safe to presume that Intelligent Process Automation is not just the RPA software but the entire Workflow management coupled with RPA capabilities? If RPA vendors are only supplying the software, then is it safe to assume that the Intelligent Automation product is not just the Software but ecosystem that this software company has built that involves the workflow/BPM management experts as well? Does this mean that the tool is as important as the experts that are creating the efficiencies through process engineering?
The journey of the Intelligent Automation Product will be a cumulative journey of all the three layers. As technologies develop, the experts would not only have to adapt to these technologies but also reimagine the processes to extract even greater gains that will further create the need to develop these technologies. The machine-human synergy is bound to grow through this feedback loop that will be created, where humans will augment machines and machines will in turn augment humans.
This feedback loop has led to the creation of a platform which is an assembly of talent, capabilities and technologies, including Artiﬁcial Intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics. This is an indication of how machine-human synergy can be leveraged to create further efﬁciencies. This creation of efﬁciencies might even result in the major consolidation between not only RPA software/technology companies but also service providers in the coming years leading to major shifts in the business environment across the globe.
Dutton, N. W. (2018). From RPA to DPA: a strategic approach to automation. MWD Advisors.
Everest Global Inc. (2018). Smart RPA Enterprise Playbook. Everest Group Research .
Mckinsey Digital . (2019). Turbochargin the next-generation operating model . Mckinsey Digital .
Digital Operations & Platforms, Enterprise Operations Transformation, Wipro
Kunjal has five years of experience across advertising, media & PR covering Brand Management, Strategic Marketing, ATL/BTL/Digital Advertising and Trade Marketing. He has hands-on experience in Trade Marketing and Brand Strategy across various brands.