RPA can handle tasks such as moving from one application to another, in putting data into multiple fields, reentering data, or copying and pasting — nearly any task that is largely driven by rules and schedules. The robot is a software worker that can do jobs such as retrieving customer profiles, support and order information from multiple enterprise systems and applications.

To understand what RPA is, it is helpful to look back on the history and development of the technology. RPA evolved from screen scrapping — the process of gathering screen display data from one application and translating it so that another application can display it. However, today’s enterprise-class RPA platforms are more advanced, scalable and accurate than the earlier technology.

What can RPA do for your organization?

What Can Robotic Process Automation Do

The back office and the contact center are the most obvious places where this kind of robotic assistance can make a difference. What RPA is best for is processes that require little or no human decision-making. Repetitive, rules-based processes have excellent potential for automation. Some examples include searching, cutting and pasting, updating the same data in multiple places, moving data around, collating, and making simple choices.

Average back-office employees spend up to 80 percent of their day on mundane activities such as filling in forms, making repetitive calculations, and processing orders. And by some estimates, an agent in a contact center may need to interact with six or more different applications to resolve a single customer contact. Many of these processes are perfect candidates for RPA.

Manual processes are a recipe for inefficiency within the business and for boredom and frustration for employees. Plus, when it comes to navigating multiple screens and capturing customer data, people can and often do make mistakes. This is not a job for a human, but for a robot. Why waste a human mind on mind-numbing work that requires little or no analysis and no subjective judgment?

RPA can be used to handle tasks that require no human intervention from start to finish. This is called unattended automation. RPA can also be applied for tasks where a human touch is needed while at least part of the work can also be automated. Such tasks are known as attended tasks. In this case, the robots work hand-in-hand with humans as their digital assistants.

What can you do to ensure RPA works for you?

Although any company can get started with RPA relatively quickly and with a moderate investment, there a several prerequisites for success. As with many IT initiatives, getting a return on investment depends as much on the people as it does on the technology. For that reason, your RPA initiative needs sponsorship from top executives as well as buy-in from the line employees who will be affected by automation.

You should also ensure that you have an effective governance structure to oversee process changes, change management, and recruitment. There should also be a strategic vision beyond piecemeal automations – a view of how people and robots will work together to drive better business performance. There should also be a structured approach to RPA standards across the enterprise, and a commitment to developing expert teams with deep knowledge of best practices.

We have found that a Centre of Excellence (CoE) can help lay down the foundation for the requirements above. A CoE is a symbol of an organization’s commitment to managing and growing their process automation footprint. The CoE becomes a magnet for developing and attracting the necessary skills and capabilities. It invites every business operation across your organization to identify needs for optimization and uncover opportunities for increasing process efficiency and reducing costs.

When deciding which processes to select for automation is the business and which operational goals RPA should support, high-volume driven processes are a great place to begin. However, it’s usually best to steer clear of the most complicated high-volume processes at first. Go for one that is high-volume but less complex, and success will appear a lot more quickly. That will help the whole RPA concept take root.

What can RPA do for a contact center?

These real-world examples illustrate what RPA is used for in today’s contact centers. One telecom provider’s fulfillment center handles thousands of inquiries every day, helping customers upgrade their phones. Agents can instantly tell which phones are in stock without having to consult the system that tracks such information — a robot handles the task instead. Each time the robot assists, as many as 10 seconds are shaved from the processing time.

A major courier-services company provides an example of using RPA to take human agents completely out of the loop in certain circumstances. Call center agents used to handle claims and scheduled package redelivery. Claims could take weeks to resolve, and redelivery scheduling was inefficient.

Now, a robotic solution reviews claims, checks refund eligibility based on business rules, transfers payments, and notifies customers by email, with minimal agent intervention. And automated redelivery scheduling lowers the volume of calls while also reducing errors.

The NICE RPA solution

Many organizations today are finding that releasing employees from repetitive processes can lead to significant benefits: reduced handling time and costs, improved SLAs and happier customers and employees. They are realizing simplicity, flexibility and efficiency with NICE’s Advanced Process Automation solutions.

NICE Advanced Process Automation offers two flexible approaches to simplifying and streamlining processes:

  • Robotic Automation: Server-based robots automate complete processes that do not require human judgement or intervention. Processes vary by industry and by role, for example, tasks like account verification or the creation of letters of employment can be fully automated.
  • Desktop Automation: Desktop robots automate repetitive desktop tasks and provide accurate information and guidance when and where it’s needed. Desktop Automation provides employees with quick links to data and real-time next best-action guidance in context to help them work more efficiently and accurately.

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