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RPA Has Its Upsides
Robotic process automation has been found to increase operational efficiency and reduce costs
For the rest of the December 2017 issue of CRM magazine please click here

Many fear that robotic process automation (RPA)—defined by research firm Frost & Sullivan as “the use of software that incorporates technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate routine, high-volume tasks that are sensitive to human error”—will make human workers obsolete. Another fear—and one that is turning out to be just as baseless—is that RPA will replace existing business process management (BPM), case management, contact center, and back-office systems. 

In both cases, RPA enhances what companies already have in place without the need for complex application programming interfaces (APIs) or coding, Frost & Sullivan concluded in a recent report.

Beyond that, RPA gives businesses increased efficiencies and reduced costs, according to the report.

Because automation can complete tasks tirelessly, quickly, and accurately, it lets employees focus on tasks that require emotional intelligence, reasoning, and judgment. And automating routine processes can reduce errors and the number of callers complaining about them.

By removing time-wasting processes and more accurately predicting how long tasks will take, RPA can also improve service-level agreements (SLAs). RPA can also be used to provide human agents with real-time guidance and personalized information to speed up interactions.

RPA can be applied to any number of attended or unattended tasks, working in the background or alongside humans. The technology can be scheduled to perform different tasks on different days or moved around as needed. Systems can be applied in a general way, tuned to specific processes, or configured for specific vertical market activities, and can pull information from almost any other business system or application.

Other benefits include:

• increased security, particularly when handling sensitive information that could be compromised by human agents or social engineering attempts by fraudsters;

• greater regulatory compliance;

• reduced need to upgrade or replace legacy systems; and

• greater employee satisfaction, leading to less turnover.

“Robotic automation processes can dramatically improve the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of customer care departments,” said Nancy Jamison, digital transformation principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, in a statement. 

“However, it’s important for organizations to have a cross-organizational plan for automation,” she cautioned, noting that RPA “can significantly impact people’s roles and adjacent processes.” Having such a plan would also help organizations see where automation should and shouldn’t occur, Jamison said. 

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