"Look for recurring workflows that always look the same. Big volumes mean big potential."
How to know if your workflow is a hot prospect for robotics
March 2, 2020
Do you and your co-workers perform the same tedious tasks day in and day out? Do you copy and paste information manually between many different support systems? If you do, there’s a good chance that you have a case for automating all or part of your workflows with robots and cobots. They free up time for more productive (and more profitable) tasks. As an added bonus, they can help increase customer satisfaction and reduce the number of errors.
What, then, are robots and cobots?
Software robots have great potential to reduce the amount of tedious work in the contact center by taking over repetitive operations in recurring workflows. Much like industrial robots can make the bulk of monotonous steps in manufacturing and assembly. We call this product area “digital co-workers” but there are many overlapping terms and expressions in the industry. Common ones are RTS, “real time solutions”, or APA, “advanced process automation”, that are often used in this context.
A cobot assists a user, typically an agent, in real-time by moving data to and from different windows, forms and fields on the screen, pressing buttons or guiding through the steps of a process. For example, they can change or enter data for a new or updated customer in multiple support systems without the agent having to cut and paste between different application windows. This is often referred to as “attended”, RTPO, RDA and “desktop automation”, somewhat depending on provider and context.
A robot, on the other hand, is more independent. It works 100 percent rule-based, without human contact and picks its jobs from a queue. It knows what to do with a given amount of data. Common industry terms are: “unattended”, RPA and “robotic automation”.
And in many cases, you don’t have to choose one or the other. It can be really smart to combine robots and cobots (and humans) to optimize your processes.
What benefits does the digital co-worker bring?
There are many potential benefits for robotics when it’s done right:
- Faster handling has a positive impact on customer satisfaction
- Reduced manual labour makes it easier to focus on the customer and has a positive impact on employee satisfaction
- Fewer manual steps also reduce the risk of data errors or data mismatch between different systems
- Less complicated workflows reduce the need for training and shortens the time for getting new staff up to speed
- Help with sales. A cobot can present a customer’s current contract and propose relevant additional sales during a contact
Finding the right candidate
So, how do you know where there is potential for a profitable robotics project? Here are some things to look out for:
- Work that always looks the same and is carried out frequently. The larger the volume, the greater the savings potential
- Work that is perceived as tedious, repetitive and monotonous may be an indication
- Copying and pasting information between systems is a prime candidate for automation
- Rigid processes are easier to automate than those with wide variation…
- …which also means that processes and systems that are stable over time are better suited. If flows are changed or systems are replaced, a robot or cobot also needs to be updated
Daniel’s best robotics advice
To make your robotics project profitable and a business success, there’s a lot to think about. And it’s not all about technology according to Daniel.
- Go for low hanging fruits first. Don’t start with your most complex processes
- Make sure to include persons from operations with hands-on knowledge of the processes, not just tech and dev people
- Choose processes that are stable over time, because changes in process or systems require the robots or cobots to be redone
- See your first project as a pilot focusing on learning for both managers, users and developers. This will let you move on to more and more complex projects
- If you want to move on from here, we at Telia are here to help with in-depth presentations, demos, training, analysis and feasibility studies.
In a hurry? This post in five seconds!
- Robots and cobots are software to speed up and improve the quality of workflows that are otherwise managed manually in different interfaces on the screen
- Flows with recurring steps, without variation, typically to fetch and write data to and from different support systems may be candidates for robotics projects
- Start out easy, choose the right processes, build knowledge and involve the right people to maximize the benefits of the digital co-worker
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