Whether your company is in finance, manufacturing, or even life sciences, you get work done through processes. Processes are made up of tasks, which you organize into workflows. A new wave of digital technologies makes it possible to automate these tasks — and that workflow management — to achieve full, end-to-end process automation for anything involving software (which, today, is virtually everything).
Before we describe how to automate your business processes, however, let’s review the technologies that make this comprehensive digital transformation possible. Here are some of the most important:
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA):The robots or (bots) that give RPA its name are software applications that perform repetitive tasks, effectively automating digital actions. These bots operate through user interfaces, so they’re ideal for flexible integration for disparate software, including legacy and cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. RPA is particularly good at rules-based behavior and is often used in heavy data-handling tasks like Accounts Payable (AP).
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): With AI capabilities, RPA bots become capable of automating more complex tasks by emulating human cognitive behaviors. Specific AI technologies that enhance digital automation include Natural Language Processing (NLP), machine learning, computer vision, and predictive analytics. These tools allow RPA bots to “understand” human speech and writing; improve performance accuracy over time; extract accurate data from unstructured documents; identify patterns in enormous datasets; and more.
- Business Process Management Systems (BPMS): The true power of digital automation lies in its ability to handle not just process tasks but process management as well. A BPMS platform coordinates all the actors within a process. It guides participants through a workflow map, assigning tasks, recording their completion, and notifying stakeholders throughout the process. Note that these participants may include RPA bots and human workers alike.
- Intelligent Automation: Combine the above three technologies to achieve intelligent automation, also known as hyperautomation. A BPMS platform orchestrates bots and human employees through the process; RPA automates tasks within the process, and AI expands the range of tasks that can be automated. Altogether, it adds up to total process automation from start to finish.