Being Intelligent with Automation — Which Type of Automation is Right for You?
Intelligent automation or robotic process automation? A problem-driven approach or a solution-driven approach? Every organization is different. What’s the best implementation approach for your organization?
Being Intelligent with Automation — Which Type of Automation is Right for You?
Early on in my journey as a business owner, I’ve made sure to hire bright, motivated employees who combine astounding creativity with an envious work ethic. I never hesitate to give credit to my talented employees as the backbone of my business and critical to much of my company’s success. Despite my efforts to hire highly productive, creative people, they are often bogged down by repetitive tasks that not only take their time away from the valuable work they excel at, but also negatively affect their feelings of fulfillment at work.
The longer I saw my staff toiling away at mundane tasks, yearning to do more of the work they were hired to do (the fun, creative, complex projects they’re so great at), the more I realized that this was a problem that needed a solution. Here, I started asking myself, “What if these mundane, repetitive tasks could be automated?”
With the influx of news and advancements in intelligent automation technology, I realized that there was a huge opportunity for my business and staff to reach their potential and enjoy work more. Not only could automation remove the pains my staff faces doing repetitive, manual tasks daily, it has the additional benefit of increasing their productivity and the company’s ROI.
In this blog, I want to walk you through the decision-making process that leads to the implementation of automation in your business, whether you’re facing challenges similar to those I have faced or see other opportunities for intelligent automation in your organization. As you’ll find below, my approach was a problem-driven one. You may have a different approach. What’s important is that you’re clear on what you are trying to achieve with intelligent automation and that you’re mindful about how you implement intelligent automation solutions in your organization.
Being intelligent with automation
As with most new technologies, Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have managed to generate quite a buzz. This buzz causes a panic in organizations, motivating them to blindly adopt new technologies for fear of losing out or to “keep up with the Joneses”. However, to ensure you’re putting your investments to good use, it is critical to understand new technologies in terms of their importance to your specific business requirements. Before investing in new technologies, make sure to figure out how these technologies benefit your business so you can get the most out of them.
This process may seem daunting, but this blog will start your journey to making smart investments that will benefit your business. We’ll cover the various types of intelligent automation technologies available and what tasks are best suited to each. We’ll also showcase the benefits of intelligent automation for your organization and tips on selecting the right solution provider for you.
Understanding Intelligent Automation
In order to utilize intelligent automation at its fullest, it is important to first understand what it is. Let’s have a look at what these technologies are and their various types. This will help you understand which of them are best suited to your specific business needs.
What is Intelligent Automation?
Intelligent automation applies to both, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA). The aim of implementing intelligent automation is to take over menial, repetitive, and high-volume tasks you’re currently doing manually (if at all). This frees up employees to tackle the more creative, complex, and constantly-changing, context-specific tasks only a human can do.
What is AI?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is, at its core, a theory and practice that aims to fulfill tasks normally performed by humans. This could be anything from a chatbot to a science-fiction-style automaton (think Data from Star Trek). It’s a concept that’s been explored by scientists and statisticians since the 1950s and with advancements in technology since, it’s becoming a practical reality. There are many subsets of artificial intelligence, such as machine learning, neural networks, and deep learning. Today, as we discuss AI, we’ll be talking about the larger umbrella of AI without getting deep into any of these subsets.
What is RPA?
Robotic process automation, or RPA, takes on the tasks assigned to it and, based on pre-set rules, provides the result. It does not ‘learn and refine’ like artificial intelligence does. As Clint Boulton wrote for CIO.com, “using RPA tools, a company can configure software, or a “robot,” to capture and interpret applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems”.
Which one is for you?
In very simple terms, if rules can be set for a process to work, it can be performed by RPA. This means, RPA can easily take over processes that are not complex, and work on a limited number of input/output combinations. For example, for reimbursement of employee expenses, bill details verification is a simple yet manual process, which can easily be handled by RPA. This can free up the Accounts department for more complicated tasks.
On the other hand, if the process requires some learning and more complicated tasks, it can be assigned to AI. In these cases, data is analyzed over time before an action is taken. A popular example of such a judgement-driven process would be the famous Netflix recommendation system. Giving rise to the ‘binge watching’ phenomena, 80% of their viewers discover new content because of their personalized recommendation engine. They analyze thousands of data points and come up with user-specific recommendations by utilizing machine learning models.
Identifying which processes to automate
The first question to ask yourself, when considering automation, is whether your organization requires process automation in the first place. Smaller organizations may not have a need for automation as most tasks are manageable by their employees. However, what is most important to consider is the time consumed in the processes to be automated. Generally, if a task requires more than four employees, the organization should consider going the intelligent automation route.
Coming back to process identification, there are two ways to go about it with either a problem-driven approach or a solution-driven approach.
A problem-driven approach begins with the knowledge that an organization has some problems in their daily processes that need to be addressed. In this approach, the organization acknowledges blockers in their processes and that employees are spending their time on repetitive tasks. Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering a problem-driven approach:
● What are the blockers that are affecting daily operations?
● Which business processes are causing blockers?
● Which tasks are taking up most of your employees’ time?
● Which tasks are mundane and repetitive, and how much time and human effort do they take?
Once you’ve clarified the problems you’re looking to solve, you can start mapping out the possible use-cases to solve them and find out if a simple solution, like RPAs, will do the job, or if it requires a more advanced approach, like artificial intelligence. Struggling with analyzing your sales numbers, planning, or product categorization? Robotic process automation could be a viable solution. If you’re struggling to make decisions based on your data, trying to expedite your hiring process, or combat fraud, artificial intelligence is better equipped to meet your challenges.
This approach occurs when an organization sees no blockers in their business processes but is considering adopting a proactive stance in terms of reaping the benefits of automation. This can help the organizations further optimize their existing processes or create new internal and customer facing solutions. Some questions to consider in the solution-driven approach:
● What performance criteria is most critical?
● Which KPIs impact our operations the most?
● Which business processes need faster turnaround time?
● Which key employees are performing menial tasks?
This approach focuses less on a problem to be solved and more on how to maximize existing processes. Again, you’ll want to weigh the possible tasks and processes against how simple or complex they are to see whether you’ll want to go the RPA or AI route. The additional benefit here is that it will not only save money or time but could help generate revenue. As Gartner reported in a guide to implementing RPA in an enterprise, “Look for proof of value rather than proof of concept. Consider opportunities to collect more revenue than was possible before, such as improving debt recovery, tariff compliance or tax collections.”
These two approaches should give your organization a big list of businesses processes that can hugely benefit from intelligent automation. In our next blog, we’ll cover industry use cases for intelligent automation, then the need for and the how-to’s of prioritizing processes for automation and deciding whether it should be done in-house or through a vendor.
If you’re considering intelligent automation for your organization learn more on our website at social27.com.
Social27 is an AI powered Automation, Augmentation and Analytics platform. Social27 Playlists empower B2B marketers to deliver a personalized and ‘binge-worthy’ content experience in real-time. Our AI Assistant identifies buyer intent, qualifies leads, and schedules meetings; accelerating sales and revenue growth. Social27 Deal Room automates all the repetitive and time-consuming processes in the deal workflow, keeping all calls, contracts, and compliance in one place. And finally, the Partner Ecosystem Accelerator enables velocity across your ecosystem by enabling a #NoFriction customer journey.