Where is Process Automation Heading?

Posted by Fabian Williams on February 27, 2019

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From the dawn of time, we humans have been finding ways to improve the tasks we find ourselves working on; at times for selfish gain, at times for overall communal improvement.  Today we see a confluence between what traditionally has been considered Business Process Management (BPM) defined as “…a discipline in operations management in which people use various methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve, optimize, and automate business processes” and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) defined as “…an emerging form of business process automation technology based on the notion of software robots or artificial intelligence (AI) workers”. 

At Withum we have been serving our customers with BPM providing a holistic technology stack that encompass a wide range of software technologies to provide maximum business impact. Likewise, we have incorporated machine learning and artificial intelligence employing Microsoft Azure in order to provide RPA.  Time over time we have noted in our projects the overlapping benefits of incorporating these two distinct areas in one offering. We have also seen various industry analyst firms carve out a new space in their magic quadrant for what’s now being dubbed Intelligent Process Automation (IPA), refer to our website for more here.

The way we like to think of this is along these three (3) veins:

  • Technology Stack
  • Automation Effort
  • Business Realization

Technology Stack
The benefit of RPA is that we look at the proliferation of data which is amassed by both system and users and we try to understand, model, and automate those activities which created that data.  Often times this is a human being keying in information, it could be an IoT device as well.  We have access to this information, and we can use Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (MLAI) with RPA as a technology lever.  This does not mean that BPM goes through the door, we see the same benefits of using various OEM an ISV tooling here Microsoft Flow, Nintex, and K2 offers smart workflow engines to optimize business processes.  IPA brings both of those two worlds together in a way previously unimagined. 

Automation Efforts
Reducing error and omissions from manual and repetitive task is one of the most immediate automated solution outcomes of RPA.  It’s not uncommon to find any just about any industry you examine that you will find task that do not require any complex decision making [busy work], further you will find business rules that accompany and manage these tasks, RPA excels here and if you are looking for immediate gains, focus your efforts identifying these areas first.  Traditional BPM has always sought to re-engineer processes to mitigate potential bottlenecks especially around human workflow actors and find a way to connect disparate systems data stores. These re-engineered process flows are often the design elements in smart workflows used in the resulting process automation.  Here again, IPA brings in best of breed; consider a scenario where you have RPA doing the mundane work and if you need escalation and possible exception handling where a human being has to make a critical business decision, you have a solution that ties those two things together automatically.

Business Realization
In the end, the business has to see one of two things for this to be embraced and adopted:

  1. Increased ROI
  2. Lowered TCO (total cost of ownership)

In the case of RPA, we get almost immediate Return of Investment (ROI) in that mundane busy work and repetitive tasks are quickly automated by a bot.  In the case of BPM, the story remains the same, it’s what we here at Withum have been successfully doing for our clients for ages; increase overall productivity and efficiency by using our key technology areas of focus and partnership with key vendors. Our IPA story improves upon that story and makes use of these emerging technologies we have now from ML and AI. 

The future of process automation embraces IPA.  

See if your organization would benefit from an IPA solution, contact the experts at Withum by calling 240.406.9960 or schedule a meeting online.

Topics: Business Process Automation (BPA)

Fabian Williams

Fabian is a Principal and Practice Director at Withum Digital. He is a Microsoft Office Apps & Services, as well as a Microsoft Developer Technologies MVP, and a Microsoft Solutions Architect/Azure Technical Evangelist. His work with the SharePoint product line dates back to the 2003 release. Fabian holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Information System “Magna-Cum-Laude” from Strayer University, Washington D.C. and his Masters in Computer Information Technology studies at the Johns Hopkins University Carey School for Business in Columbia, Maryland. He holds the following Microsoft Certifications MCSE, MCSD and MCDBA.

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