I was going to write this post all about Robotic Process Automation (RPA) from what I heard at Startup Cincy. But I started writing the post too late and the details have slipped my mind. If you really want to know about RPA, ask Henry Flournoy.
Cincinnati Startup Week
I think the biggest takeaway from Startup Cincy, and this is what I’ve been saying for a long time, is that it’s not about the technology. It’s about the people. I heard it over again and again from Flournoy, Jim Boyd, Roland Joseph, and in my own talk – technology is only as good as the people and processes they’re applied too. By this, I mean it’s people who develop the business processes and put logic behind each step. Technology, whether it be 2D software or virtual reality, can streamline those processes and make them run faster. But if it’s a bad process, in terms of the logic or the person performing the task, tech can’t fix it. It will only make it worse.
Flournoy gave example after example of where an RPA was able to take over a job that robots were good at but people were bad at, like data entry. The RPA turned the process into a real-time event with fewer errors because it no longer had to be done by people who were bored and wanted to be able to go home at 5 o’clock.
I attended the presentation about Robotic Process Automation on Wednesday. The talk intrigued me because robots are cool and I wanted to hear how RPA accelerates digital transformation in the enterprise. Henry Flournoy from Centric Consulting gave a discussion type presentation with the audience. He challenged us to come up with examples in our own workflows where RPA could be implemented. I, of course, thought of the manufacturing process.
In a plant that doesn’t have an MES where all the data is added in one place and reports generated from the same system, they could use an RPA. The robots send data between software and even execute tasks that have defined logic. With applied artificial intelligence, the RPA can learn from the logic process but we’re not the point of black-out plants yet.
What is Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic Process Automation is able to do any rules-based business logic to process a transaction, manipulate data, trigger responses and communicating with other digital systems. RPA frees up employees from doing the work they like the least. A common thinking is that RPA puts people out of a job. In reality, RPA takes away mundane and repetitive tasks which frees up people to focus on creative thinking and problem-solving tasks. Robotic Process Automation ends up boosting morale and increasing the bottom line.
How do you know what to automate?
RPA is the new outsourcing. If you have a job with high turnover that’s so easy to train the next person, that might be a sign it’s a good step to automate. Flournoy told us a story of an insurance company who implemented RPA. Every Wednesday, the employees had to stop their jobs to file claims to a third party website. They then implemented RPA to in real-time file the right data to the website.
- “When companies use Excel as the glue between systems, that’s a pain point.”
- “Think of metrics in the beginning, not at the end.”
- “Real digital transformation is how we use all this data and process to make our business better. How can we solve these steps today, not next year?”
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