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Improve, Improve and Improve Again: Automation Lessons from ‘Imagine London’

Everyone wants to automate, but not everyone knows where to start. With current error rates as high as 30% for manual data entry, there’s a clear incentive to introduce robots into the workforce for repeatable work. But the solution – RPA – presents some challenges to users in the fast-changing automation space. Finding an efficient solution to this adoption issue was on the agenda at Automation Anywhere’s ‘Imagine London’ event, that I attended last month. Here are some ideas that I took away from the day:

Business Process Management is Dead

The automation space is developing rapidly, and it’s ushering in change at previously unknown pace. Before now, firms had tied themselves in knots whilst attempting to use Business Process Management (BPM) tools in order to link systems together: it could be complicated, slow and expensive for users.

Today, RPA is proving to be a game changer in automation, capable of dealing with entirely unstructured dark data through cognitive AI and machine learning; generating insights via Robotic Service Orchestration (RSO). Firms can push boundaries more quickly, without the burden of traditional project methods and costs. They can afford to make mistakes, and learn where to find value – utilising RPA and RSO as a combined approach that is perfectly suited to automation.

Improve, then Improve Again

Implementing RPA can seem daunting, but there are ways to reduce the pressures involved. One speaker highlighted, that today, it can be cheaper to automate an existing, broken process and then move to improve this process, rather than incur the costs and delays of traditional improvement from scratch.

Adopting this two-stage approach can help you to improve and then improve again, rather than attempting to automate a whole process from the outset: breaking down the stages makes the implementation of RPA a lot more manageable.

Finding the Human/Digital Sweet Spot

During the implementation process, it’s important to be pragmatic and let the bots ‘drive’. With the non-stop development of RPA, businesses could do well to consider that today’s automation projects vary: not all implementations are high value or have revolutionary effects. In line with the two-stage implementation process, it is often the case that RPA achieves more incremental savings.

And RSO, a key to increasing the productivity of your employees, is less about handing over control to robots, and more about perfecting your human/digital workforce. The ‘Pareto Principle’ applies here; whilst bots can be a part – big or small - of the process in 80% of tasks, human ingenuity is always going to be needed for the remaining 20%. Humans and robots can’t achieve perfection alone; RSO is all about finding the sweet spot for success.

Stephen Smith, Business Development Director, Enate.

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