Robotic Process Automation or Transformation?
by Betsy Burton
Microsoft recently announced their robotic process automation tool for Microsoft Power Platform called Microsoft Power Automate. It is one of the many solutions that we see entering this market recently that has been getting a lot of market hype. But this announcement got me thinking about the business value of process automation.
In this blog, we explore the value of robotic process automation versus the value of robotic process transformation.
Robotic Process Automation
Today, robotic process automation (RPA) tools provide the capability for organizations to track how humans interact with systems and applications, and then they record this as workflow to be used in low-code development environments to automate the processes.
The benefit of RPA is that with relatively little work, a routine task such as dynamically integrating information from multiple sources or filling out a form from another source (e.g., order entry, inventory management, insurance claim processing) can be easily automated which can save time, decrease the potential for human error, increase speed and response times, and reduce costs.
However, organizations that solely automate existing processes risk creating a robotic environment where they are just doing inefficient tasks faster—not better or smarter.
An inefficient business process that is automated, is still an inefficient business process. You’ll just see the impact of the bad process faster and more obviously.
Robotic Process Transformation
RPA solutions will increasingly support AI-enabled capabilities that will either fix or suggest fixes to inefficient processes. This is a help, but will only go so far.
This is an age-old business process challenge.
Do we start with a focus on our current state and current business processes and determine how we might evolve, enhance, automate, or optimize them?
Or, do we think about our future state business and then look back to our current business processes to figure out which ones need to be radically changed, transformed, or maybe just enhanced?
Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There
My father used to say this to us as kids. His intent was to teach us that we shouldn’t just scramble around when we were faced with an opportunity or challenge. He wanted us to stop and think about what we’re trying to get done. And then determine a plan for how to get it done.
We need to take this advice to heart when it comes to using AI-enabled robotic systems or devices.
There is a lot of market hype around AI and robotics. And, there are a lot of products and services emerging to help organizations automate what they already do today. But, don’t miss this inflection point opportunity to step back and take a business future-state driven architectural approach to leveraging this emerging technology.
Stop and figure out how business processes should be supported, given the future state of the business, and then determine if it should be automated, changed, or transformed.
Like many emerging technologies, robotic process automation will go through a natural evolution. Many organizations are going to adopt these technologies to simply automate their existing processes; good, bad, and ugly.
They will get some benefits, and some of their inefficiencies will be highlighted or even exacerbated.
Get ahead of your competition! Take this opportunity to figure out what processes can truly be automated “as is.” Determine which business processes need to be changed. And, identify which business processes need to be completely thrown-out and rethought.