RPA base camp for tool selection and planning

RPA leaders know that doing more with less starts with improvements in accuracy, cycle time, and increased productivity of the existing workforce.

To discover trapped value, you need to know where to look. The rapid economic justification that robotic process automation (RPA) holds is alluring. Starting to explore the potential of RPA begins with a grouping of the software and tools that make up the RPA landscape. Let’s start at base camp.

There are two main base camps at Mount Everest, each on opposite sides of the mountain. The South Base Camp is in Nepal at an altitude of 17,598 feet. The North Base Camp is in Tibet at an altitude of 16,900 feet. Each base camp is used for climbing different routes. When climbing the southeast ridge, the South Base Camp is used and, when climbing the northeast ridge, the North Base Camp is leveraged. About 800 people successfully reach the 29,029-foot summit of Mount Everest each year.

There are many situations in which we desire to reach the summit—ranging from mountaineering expeditions for exploration, sports, science, or even philanthropic fundraising. Any of the 18 different climbing routes on Everest can get you to the top, with the South Col and the Northeast Ridge Standard being the most popular.

RPA isn’t much different. Begin by getting acclimated to the software landscape. Plan and choose a route. Hire a professional guide.

Let’s dive into the potential tools you’ll need for the trip.

RPA for business-process modeling and front office

UI Path, blueprism, and Automation Anywhere are software companies that dominate the RPA landscape. That doesn’t mean there aren’t many other tools that are worthy of bringing on the RPA journey to maximize your business results and RPA footprint.

RPA alone doesn’t change how people work, but it does affect the productivity of those workers when applied intelligently. The same, core, RPA value proposition can be leveraged in the front and back office. This value proposition promises: Increased productivity. Low technical carrier. Increased accuracy. Reduce costs.

The front office—with staff that interact with consumers—and the back office—with behind-the-scenes staff—both can benefit from the intelligence that RPA can offer. As CIOs, we’re pushed to do more with less, and RPA quickly moves us to the forefront of our viable options.

RPA introduces the concept of uninterrupted resource pools. These RPA bots are configurable to scale limitlessly across time zones to automate respective tasks. By automating these often-tedious tasks, we increase manual productivity and create a happier and more efficient workforce. This is the essence of robotic process automation—automate the non-revenue-generating, repetitive activities to enable a more productive workforce.

There are several software offerings that provide solutions to tackle automation challenges of the front and back-office. These include:

be informed specializes in legacy integration to accelerate digital development. Connotate is dedicated to SaaS solutions and handling web data through managed services. Contextor, recently acquired by SAP, targets complex RPA situations by supporting attended and unattended RPA solutions. Exilant, part of QuEST, can bring automation to platform services such as IoT, cloud, security, blockchain, AI, MR, and mobility options. LivePerson, offers AI-powered chatbots, to automate up to 70% of messaging conversations on your website, SMS, Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, and WhatsApp. Jacada narrows in on end-to-end customer-service automation. NICE is a major solution that delivers both desktop (attended) and server-side (unattended) automation, so employees can focus on productivity – not processing. Pega brings attention to interconnected organizational processes and end-to-end automation. Verint focuses on driving processing consistency and regulatory compliance with RPA.

Each of these industry players understands that revolutionary transformation is much bigger than deploying a few RPA bots. Transformation is about changing the values, beliefs, and behaviors of an organization. Front- and back-end RPA solutions start the conversation to increase capacity, drive compliance, and automate faster.

RPA for automation

We’re beginning to see a trend moving toward specialization in RPA software that’s concentrated around the functions of a specific industry.

At the core, RPA creates digital factories to automate and integrate human activities that are administrative or repetitive in nature. RPA’s appeal is that these digital factories can be created and destroyed in seconds, depending on the workflow and business logic that has can be designed into the intelligent agents or bots.

Several companies have offerings that are making a difference and can handle a variety of business challenges regardless of industry. Improving unified testing, decreasing cycle time, and removing people from dull work are all possibilities that these software solutions can address.

Automation Anywhere creates a digital workforce with the same digital skillsets that employees have to interact with any system or application in the same way humans do. blue prism recently introduced an AI-powered supervisor in addition to design tools for human-digital collaboration, workforce management, and process automation. Jidoka, recently acquired by Appian (NASDAQ: APPN), is a world-class solution for workflow, AI, and RPA. Kryon Systems is a business-user-friendly platform that combines advanced IMR and OCR capabilities to record and execute processes on any application (including Citrix, web-based, legacy, and desktop)—without the need for integration (no connectors/API required). UI Path platform simplifies digital transformation by rapidly automating processes end to end for hyper-automation.

These companies combine the process (business-process automation), the bot (software-intelligence agent), and the orchestrator (robot controllers) to easily create bots to automate rules-driven business processes.

RPA for productivity and decisions

Operational excellence. Agile operations. Lean development. There’s an RPA embedded in each of these buzzwords. RPA leaders are leveraging bots to increase employee engagement, bolster financial performance, and boost speed to market. CIOs are looking at organizations that consume RPA, which is a good indicator of digital maturity. RPA provides a competitive advantage by driving revenue higher, taking greater market share, and improving customer service.

RPA is destined to become more pervasive across all functions in the organization. The following companies are creating advancements in software to make that organizational climb easier:

AntWorks is a platform for integrated artificial intelligence and intelligent automation powered by fractal science. Ayehu has platforms and managed-service-provider solutions to automate business processes to simultaneously retrieve of all kinds of information about how those particular processes are carried out. EnableSoft, recently acquired by nintex, leverages trained bots to quickly and cost-effectively automate routine tasks without the use of code in an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface. Epiance is an industry-leading solution that taps into EpiGenie for building, assembling, and dashboarding project execution for individual robots. Ikarus is an AI platform for business-process automation. Loop AI introduced a platform incorporating robots that autonomously learn and reason to retrofit systems with one, centralized, cognitive platform. OpenConnect, recently acquired by AcitveOps Ltd., specializes in simplifying and optimizing the running of operations. PERPETUUITI is a platform for iBaaS (iBoT-as-a-Service) in which cognitive and capable bots automate a wide range of industry-specific operational and functional processes. Rimilia is the first and only AI-powered automation platform built to manage order-to-cash processes in real-time. Softomotive emphasizes the smoothest RPA journey by making it easy to start small, learn quickly, and scale seamlessly. T-Plan’s RPA Robot is the most flexible and universal black-box automation tool on the market, specializing in testing automation. VisualCron is an automation, integration, and task-scheduling tool for Windows.

These tools center around productivity and decisions to enhance and augment your human workforce. By integrating AI, ML, RPA, and analytics, repetitive business processes can be automated with intelligence and cognitively aware bots.

RPA leaders and the rest

Protiviti recently published a report on the average RPA spend based on RPA maturity level. Beginners were spending $1MM or less, intermediates were spending $1MM to $3.9MM, and RPA leaders were spending $10MM or more. As you chart your path toward the RPA summit, where does your organization fit in to the maturity level? Are you a beginner, intermediate, or RPA leader?

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Peter is a technology executive with over 20 years of experience, dedicated to driving innovation, digital transformation, leadership, and data in business. He helps organizations connect strategy to execution to maximize company performance. He has been recognized for Digital Innovation by CIO 100, MIT Sloan, Computerworld, and the Project Management Institute. As Managing Director at OROCA Innovations, Peter leads the CXO advisory services practice, driving digital strategies. Peter was honored as an MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award Finalist in 2015 and is a regular contributor to CIO.com on innovation. Peter has led businesses through complex changes, including the adoption of data-first approaches for portfolio management, lean six sigma for operational excellence, departmental transformations, process improvements, maximizing team performance, designing new IT operating models, digitizing platforms, leading large-scale mission-critical technology deployments, product management, agile methodologies, and building high-performance teams. As Chief Information Officer, Peter was responsible for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange’s (HIX) industry-leading digital platform transforming consumerism and retail-oriented services for the health insurance industry. Peter championed the Connecticut marketplace digital implementation with a transformational cloud-based SaaS platform and mobile application recognized as a 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award finalist, CIO 100, and awards for best digital services, API, and platform. He also received a lifetime achievement award for leadership and digital transformation, honored as a 2016 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. Peter is the author of Learning Intelligence: Expand Thinking. Absorb Alternative. Unlock Possibilities (2017), which Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Triggers, calls "a must-read for any leader wanting to compete in the innovation-powered landscape of today." Peter also authored The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare (2017), the first book to explore the vast opportunities for blockchain to transform the patient experience. Peter has a B.S. in C.I.S from Bentley University and an MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He earned his PMP® in 2001 and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Masters in Business Relationship Management (MBRM) and Certified Scrum Master. As a Commercial Rated Aviation Pilot and Master Scuba Diver, Peter understands first hand, how to anticipate change and lead boldly.