Blog 13 November 2020

Use cases for RPA and a glimpse into the future…

by Richard Farrell


In part one of this blog, we looked at what RPA is and why it matters. In this second part, I’d like to examine in more detail, the use cases for RPA – where they are today and the possibilities for the future.

Because of the way RPA works, up to now it’s largely been used to automate back-office processes that are very well understood, repeated on a regular basis and rarely change. That’s understandable because the software robots used don’t include much intelligence of their own. If something out of the ordinary is encountered when the RPA process is executing, it may not know what to do and simply fail.

That’s largely the reason why most organisations who use RPA, still have only a handful of bots and have found it difficult to scale their use. The amount of time required to manage bots when handling complex processes can sometimes become greater than the value they’re delivering. In fact, Forrester has a ‘rule of 5’ to help guide the complexity of RPA processes that should be attempted. It suggests that a flow should contain no more than five decisions, access no more than five apps and include no more than five hundred mouse clicks.

Attended and unattended bots

Up to now, the two common deployment models for RPA include:

  • Attended operation
  • Unattended operation

Unattended bots autonomously execute back-office tasks, like claims processing or generating invoices, from a work queue. They’re typically started on a schedule or invoked by another program or API call. Here’s a handy reference on some of the use-cases for unattended operation across the enterprise here.

Attended bots are most often seen in front-office and contact centre environments where they’re used by customer service agents as part of their work, to improve productivity and quality. Tasks can be handed off to bots and where the bots need human assistance (such as for exception handling) or are returning information, they can pass it back in real-time.

We’ve already started work on integrating Liberty RPA with Liberty Converse (our contact centre solution) to enable this kind of support for agents. Liberty RPA is the perfect way to help agents deliver a better customer experience by speeding up and removing the pain of what otherwise may be cumbersome processes. Tasks such as resetting passwords and credentials for an online system, updating address details across several backend systems automatically and retrieving details of the customer’s most recent orders are all examples of how Liberty RPA can help.

What’s coming next?

That’s the really exciting part! By combining RPA with AI and other process automation technologies such as low-code, we can make robots smarter and able to handle a far wider range of process automation tasks. They will be able to intelligently make decisions for themselves rather than always having to ask a person. For example, if you’re working on putting together a proposal for a customer or a report together for management, having a robot that you could request to fetch the latest pricing configuration and information or the latest sales figures for inclusion, would be a real time saver and productivity boost. It needs to understand what you are asking for, the context in which you are asking and how the information should be fed back, in the most useful way.

Delivering great customer experience (CX)

To deliver great CX (whether the customer is internal or external) intelligence is needed to be able to react to customers’ requirements individually. Given that no two customers are the same, treating them as individuals is something humans are best placed to do.

Supporting employees to deliver great CX requires personalisation to meet customers’ needs. However, personalisation normally incurs additional costs and resources. Reengineering customer facing processes for greater personalisation and CX is where low-code comes in. Low-code is perfectly suited to quickly and easily build apps with attractive, modern interfaces for users. Apps that pull together information from a range of back-end systems to automate the entire customer workflow. RPA (with AI support) is a perfect tool to help support people to deliver a personalised service and it has a positive impact in managing the cost of personalising CX.

This is an area where equipping business users (or citizen developers) to create their own automations to help deliver better CX plays an important role. Liberty RPA makes it easy enough for users without adding an additional burden on IT and helps users build automations that deliver great CX for customers.

Integrating low-code apps with back-end systems

When integrating low-code apps with back-end systems, many will have well-defined APIs to do so – but not all. Where API access doesn’t exist, Liberty RPA is the perfect way for low-code apps built with Liberty Create to integrate with legacy systems. They can log-in as a person would, access the information required and return it to the user through the low-code app.

However, RPA can add a lot more value to low-code than simply providing an easy integration method…

Bots with AI capability

As we add more AI capability to RPA bots, so they’ll be able to work with our low-code created process automation apps, to make smarter decisions about how to help people do their job in a smarter way (not just in the contact centre). More and more in the future, we’ll all have robots running on our systems and working with our low-code apps, ready to help us to do the things that take us time. And by doing so, freeing us up to use our brains more creatively to come up with the ideas for products and services that make our customers lives better and keep us at the forefront of our markets’ needs.

I’m looking forward to the time I can say ‘fetch’ and my robot gets me exactly what I need. We’re getting close.

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Chief Innovation Officer

German-born, Simpsons-obsessed and with a not-so-secret penchant for Welsh techno, Richard is Netcall’s long-serving CIO – he’s been with us for an impressive 19 years, meaning he’s somewhere between ‘living legend’ and ‘part of the furniture’ around here.

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