One of the clients that I’m working with has exposed me to a fascinating industry that many marketers may not even be aware exists. In their Workplace Transformation Study commissioned by DXC.technology, Futurum states:
RPA (robotic process automation) may not be at the forefront of media hype as it once was but this technology has been quietly and efficiently working its way into technology and the IT department as business units look to automate repetitive tasks, reduce costs, increase accuracy and auditability, and refocus human talent on higher-level tasks.
Workplace and Digital Transformation
9 Key insights Impacting the Future of Work
At its core, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is software that interfaces with software to make it more efficient. As we all realize, the corporate technology stack continues to expand and has a multitude of on-premise, off-premise, proprietary, and third-party systems and processes.
Companies struggle to integrate the platforms, often unable to keep up with the continuous advancements. RPA software is filling that much-needed gap. RPA software is often low-code or even no-code platforms that provide a simple user interface to build custom user interfaces or trigger processes. So, if your ERP is SAP, your Marketing Stack is Salesforce, your financials are on Oracle, and you have a dozen other platforms… an RPA solution can be rapidly deployed to integrate all of them.
Take a look at your own Sales and Marketing processes. Is your staff entering repetitive information across multiple screens or systems? Is your staff repetitively moving data from one system to another? Most organizations are… and this is where RPA has an incredible Return on Investment.
By improving user interfaces and reducing data entry issues, employees are easier to train, are less frustrated, customer fulfillment is more accurate, there’s a reduction in downstream problems, and overall profitability is increased. With real-time pricing updates across systems, ecommerce companies are also seeing dramatic increases in revenue.
There are central processes that can be modified with RPA:
- Attended – the system responds to interactions with a user. For example, Clear Software has a client with 23 screens in their ERP that they were able to collapse into a single user interface. This reduced training time, improved data collection, and reduced the number of errors (not to mention frustration) by users when entering information.
- Unattended – the system triggers updates that communicate with multiple systems. An example may be adding a new client. Rather than adding the record in their financial, ecommerce, fulfillment, and marketing system… RPA takes and filters and modifies the data as needed and automatically updates all systems in real-time.
- Intelligent – RPA, as with every other technology, is now incorporating intelligence to monitor and automatically deploy bots to optimize processes throughout the organization.
Some old-school RPA systems depend on screenscraping and populating screens manually. Newer RPA systems utilized productized and API-driven integrations so that changes in user interfaces don’t break the integration.
RPA implementations do have challenges. My client, Clear Software, has written an outstanding overview of RPA and how to avoid the pitfalls of an RPA implementation.