Business Info - issue 138 16 magazine RPA n Better customer service. Through its combination of greater accuracy and increased productivity, RPA helps organisations deliver the high levels of customer service demanded by today’s consumers. Many organisations already use software agents, chatbots and virtual assistants in call centres to provide self-service options and help agents resolve queries more quickly. n Enhanced compliance. RPA can improve compliance, by eliminating unnecessary errors, making sure processes are followed to the letter and by cross-checking information. Almost nine out of 10 SMEs surveyed by OnePoll for Ultima said they were considering RPA to improve their IT security and data compliance. n Managing data growth. RPA can help businesses manage and exploit ever greater data volumes. According to the Gemalto Data Security Confidence Index , 65% of organisations are currently unable to categorise all the consumer data they have and only 54% know where all their sensitive data is stored. Bots can help organisations manage the information they have and eventually, through AI and machine learning, mine it for commercial advantage. So compelling are these benefits that Forrester predicts that by 2021, there will be more than four million software bots doing office and administrative work in claims processing, HR administration, invoicing, procurement, IT service management, customer service/contact centre. Strengths and weaknesses Some organisations refer to bots as virtual workers or digital workers. The inference that bots are just another type of employee, almost on an equal footing with sentient beings, is indicative both of RPA’s strengths and its limitations. In much the same way that temporary workers are brought in to support an organisation’s existing workforce, software ‘bots’ tend to work alongside full-time employees, using existing software programmes, the existing IT infrastructure and, essentially, the same workflows. This makes them relatively easy and cheap to deploy (and scale) and makes it possible for individuals, teams and departments to transform their own processes without the time and expense of a big, centralised IT project. On the flip-side, software bots, like temps, are limited in what they are able to do: they can follow a process with ...continued Rapid ROI for Brightside Brightside Group, a leading UK insurance broker with hundreds and thousands of car, home and business insurance customers across the UK, achieved an ROI of less than six months for its first RPA projects. Working with Data Capture Solutions (DCS), a Neopost company, it identified three processes where RPA offers clear business benefits: the compilation of document packs containing insurance documents from third party portals; invoice reconciliation; and the posting of credits received from debt cases. Transformation director David Holloway says that the use of RPA is part of the company’s strategy to become a fully digital broker and has already delivered measurable benefits. “Robotics has reduced both cost and error rates and, by taking out the human variable, we have significantly improved our response time. Using robotics for non-value added activities will also make Brightside more scalable as an organisation,” he said. Following the success of the first projects, Brightside and DCS have earmarked two further processes for automation – the management of debt write-offs and the automation of cancellations due to missed payments. Holloway added: “Our underlying principle is to use robotics where the task is repeatable and the agent is adding little value, leaving humans to work on the more unusual or difficult scenarios where they can add value. Brightside is not going to be manned solely by robots any time soon, but we fully expect to report a better customer experience.” In a survey of 2,000 UK office professionals by Adobe, 87% said they expected their job to change in the next 20 years, as technology gradually takes over up to 60% of admin-based office tasks. Even so, 66% hope to see AI in the workplace soon (Adobe, Future of Work 2017) .