Sometimes You See Them, Sometimes Not: Either Way, the Digital Worker Is Here

Em Blog Rpa

Remote process automation brings efficiency, expediency, and scalability to integrated workflows

Are you tired of doing the same mundane tasks over and over at work? Are there steps in the business process that just don’t make sense? Or are there frustrating areas of your daily routine that force you to do things that delay the outcome? Do you ever feel that if you let someone–or something—else handle the mindless activities of your job, it’d let you work on more strategic, impactful, and fun priorities?

And what about your team? What gets them all riled up in their daily routine? It might be time to say hello to the digital worker.

What is a digital worker?

Digital workers, also called virtual employees, are software robots programmed and trained to perform specific actions at specific points in a business process – sometimes manually triggered by a human, other times automatically by an event in a system or application.

Some digital workers interact with humans to determine how and when to perform certain functions; these are working in “attended mode.” Digital workers that operate in unattended mode typically perform their automated duties at the application interface layer using a series of “if this, then that” rules to move the business process along. In both cases, the bots are instructed to follow a specific set of rules designed to keep them within the guardrails set for them.

While there may be some limitations in the guardrails and when humans are still required to engage with the digital workers for business processes to be completed, the real power and value come when multiple steps across multiple functions cover various aspects of the business. This approach to connecting business workflows using bots is called Remote Process Automation (RPA).

The role of RPA in the business of the future

RPA may be what organizations need to digitally transform their business by experimenting with new technologies that connect their data and business processes to legacy systems that can’t be replaced yet. Decision-makers surveyed by IBM stated that integrating processes across organizational boundaries and legacy systems will accelerate digital transformation. Over 75% agree that they need to change how they work to deliver on their digital transformation goals.1

These two points suggest an ever-evolving digital transformation transition is underway, not a one-shot event.

Figuring out how to automate can be challenging

Starting the journey doesn’t have to be difficult, but an organization may encounter challenges as it begins to introduce digital workers into the operations and culture. Here are five to consider:2

  1. Lack of direction: Nearly half the decision makers indicate they don’t know enough about what’s feasible in terms of automation to prioritize their needs.
  2. Outdated technology: 62% of companies are working with outdated technologies that make it impossible to automate end-to-end.
  3. Team and data silos: 84% of decision-makers agree that data silos limit their ability to modernize processes. At 71%, data silos are the top reported technical challenge, and team/organizational silos remain a top organizational challenge at 62%.
  4. Lack of knowledge: 62% of organizations have reported a lack of insight into current processes as a significant organizational challenge.
  5. Lack of talent: 45% of decision-makers find it difficult to attract the developer pool needed to automate and create intelligent processes.

When RPA is possible, the sky is the limit

There are many benefits accessible through the implementation of RPA:

New insights from business process and workflow analytics can help optimize resources and scale business operations
Productivity gains for engineering and business process teams from testing and validating workflows before deployment
Productivity gains for internal product support teams from fewer calls and a reduction in invalid workflow paths
Productivity gains for employees from streamlined processes
Enhanced accuracy drives reductions in downtime, faulty transactions, incomplete transactions, and loss of revenue
Operational guardrails control access and can help keep data, systems and actions separate from each other to improve security and compliance
Operational efficiency gains across business units and functional teams such as the business unit directors, IT, security, and compliance

The ultimate outcomes can be many as well. For example, 88% of companies state that the modernization of business processes is key to improving customer engagement, and 77% agree it enhances the employee experience.3

Bringing RPA into the business can start by identifying a few costly, error-prone, transaction-delaying, revenue-driving workflows and then figuring out where steps or flows could benefit from using a digital worker to augment the human capabilities in some instances and replace the human task altogether in others.

  1. 1, 2, 3 – Reinventing Workflows, Forrester/IBM, January 2020