Automation Platforms

Software Tools with Intelligence and Contextual Memory

Intelligent Automation software is a class of software products based on the principle of using software created ‘robots’, armed with an element of artificial intelligence, more accurately machine learning supported by cognitive modelling.  They are not truly ‘artificial intelligence’ in the sense of the software acting autonomously to decide spontaneously on a course of action, rather they learn from prior history of similar cases to determine the functions they need to perform on recognition of a trigger event.

This technology often adds the most value for businesses that have manual, high-volume, repetitive, rule-based processes involving structured data, such as transaction processing. Financial services, for example, have seen higher rates of adoption than other industries.  They are seen as a quick way to drive greater process efficiency by performing repetitive tasks that involve structured data to emulate human activity, in cases that can be clearly defined.

Implementation strategy is all important to your toolset selection

Clients often look for industry specific solutions to make implementation easier, and the lack of a solid business case makes for some difficulty in that often it is not obvious where the benefits are expected to emerge.  Ultimately, selection of software becomes easier with greater specificity in which business processes are to be automated, laid out into some form of strategic plan.

As with IoT Platforms, the classic ‘buy vs build’ consideration comes high on the list of considerations.  Although there are some reasonably well established suppliers of RPA software (e.g. Automation Anywhere, UIPath, Blue Prism, Appian), on the surface their offerings are largely similar, being toolsets within which processes are defined, and distinguishing one from another is increasingly difficult.  Some platforms require no, or minimal, coding skills, making them more attractive for organisations with resource constraints.

Vendors look for competitiveness through functionality differentiation, industry specific offerings, and embedding products into wider automation solutions, making the strategic roadmap for the product an important consideration to ensure it continues to offer the functionality and support for your business processes.

For larger enterprises, setting up their own Centres of Expertise (CoE), can reduce dependence on third parties for relevant skills.

Software vendors are responding to these developments by looking to provide

  • industry-based process maturity models for typical front, middle and back office activities to illustrate where RPA could be used for further automation of low-hanging fruit, adding more complex machine-learning-led automation later on as toolsets develop.
  • Reusable business case diagnostics to evaluate and accelerate important business outcomes, such as time to market, operational efficiency, cost savings and improved productivity for high-value resources.
  • Tiered solution offerings to support clients’ COE endeavours by offering COE setup and governance consulting services, process automation discovery services, frameworks for scalable RPA technology selection, and managed services for RPA.

Source: Gartner Group, August 2018

Ultimately, you will be better served by knowing what you are trying to achieve in the first place!

In Summary

Viable RPA platforms are available now, identifying the appropriate product to use whilst guarding against the danger of lock-in and skills / resource shortage is challenging.  To get started with your project, or simply to discuss your ideas, call us on 0113 242 3795.