What Is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotic process automation (RPA) refers to replacing human processes/inputs with the work of artificially intelligent “robot” employees. RPA boils down to two perennial business objectives:

  • Allocate fewer resources to repetitive, low-value-added tasks and more resources to complex, impactful ones
  • Eliminate the errors and inefficiencies inherent in human labor

If you’ve ever recorded an Excel macro, then you’ve already implement RPA on a micro scale. It was inefficient to repeat the same tedious actions for countless cells in a spreadsheet, so you quickly ‘taught’ Excel the series of steps. A process that took extended and careful attention could simply be kicked off with a couple clicks, then left to run unattended!

How Robotic Process Automation Impacts Business

Now, imagine that strategy writ large. Imagine relieving an entire department, location, or even enterprise of repetitive, manual processes. Furthermore, imagine a platform that could empower even non-technical users to capture and automate nuanced business processes.

Presumably, that scenario would have a large business impact. You might expect:

  • Lower labor costs
  • Perfectly consistent execution
  • Freedom from human scheduling and scaling constraints
  • Improved process velocity and turnaround times
  • Reduced onboarding and training costs

…and you would be correct!

But there’s one big catch: most processes are document-driven, and many documents still arrive as paper. To reap the greatest ROI on RPA, organizations need to look further upstream and assess the critical matters of data entry costs, accuracy, and speed.

Why RPA Needs OCR

Just as RPA tools solve the problems of human processing, so optical character recognition (OCR) tools solve the problems of human data entry.

We’ve written plenty on OCR, both generally and with regard to specific industries, so it might be worth reading up on our automated data capture solutions. In short, this technology uses a slew of visual,

linguistic, and statistical techniques to quickly turn pictures of text into actual text. Bottom line: it’s orders of magnitude faster, more accurate, and more cost-effective that the human brain.

RPA and OCR are complementary technologies, and may organizations have already integrated them seamlessly to automate processes from end to end. Together, they create the sort of efficiency that forward-thinkers will turn into competitive advantage.

Achieving Total Process Automation

Now in our second decade of workflow consulting, we’ve continually observed a fundamental truth: automating bottlenecks and labor-intensive processes always pays for itself. Often, this happens far more quickly than expected, and ushers in deeper digital transformation by prompting even more ambitious and valuable automation efforts.

If you’re starting to picture how the “digital employees” of cutting edge RPA and OCR tools can work together for your team, then please reach out today. We look forward to helping you address the challenges and seize the opportunities you see every day in your most critical workflows.

Why Robotic Process Automation (RPA) & OCR?

Robotic process automation (RPA) refers to replacing human processes/inputs with the work of artificially intelligent “robot” employees. RPA boils down to two perennial business objectives:

  • Reallocate resources from repetitive, low-value-added tasks to complex, impactful ones
  • Eliminate the errors and inefficiencies inherent in human labor

If you’ve ever recorded an Excel macro, then you’ve already implement RPA on a micro scale. It was inefficient to repeat the same tedious actions for countless cells in a spreadsheet, so you quickly ‘taught’ Excel the series of steps. A process that used to take extended and careful input could be kicked off with a couple clicks, then left to run unattended!

How Robotic Process Automation Impacts Business

Now, imagine that strategy writ large. Imagine relieving an entire department, location, or even enterprise of repetitive, manual processes. Furthermore, imagine a platform that could empower even non-technical users to capture and automate nuanced business processes.

Presumably, that scenario would have a large business impact. You might expect:

  • Lower labor costs
  • More consistent execution
  • Freedom from human scheduling and scaling constraints
  • Improved process velocity and turnaround times
  • Reduced onboarding and training costs

…and you would be correct!

But there’s one big catch: most processes are document-driven, and many documents still arrive as paper. To reap the greatest ROI on RPA, organizations need to look further upstream and assess the critical matters of data entry costs, accuracy, and speed.

Why RPA Needs OCR

Just as RPA tools solve the problems of human processing, so optical character recognition (OCR) tools solve the problems of human data entry.

We’ve written plenty on OCR, both generally and with regard to specific industries, so it might be worth reading up on our automated data capture solutions. In short, this technology uses a slew of visual, linguistic, and statistical techniques to quickly turn pictures of text into actual digital text. Bottom line: it’s orders of magnitude faster, more accurate, and more cost-effective that the human brain.

abbyy-flexicapture-mobile-data-capture

RPA and OCR are complementary technologies, and may organizations have already integrated them seamlessly to automate processes from end to end. Together, they create the sort of efficiency that forward-thinkers will turn into competitive advantage.

Achieving Total Process Automation

Now in our second decade of workflow consulting, we’ve continually observed a fundamental truth: automating bottlenecks and labor-intensive processes always pays for itself. Often, this happens far more quickly than expected, and ushers in deeper digital transformation by prompting even more ambitious and valuable automation efforts.

If you’re starting to picture how the “digital employees” of cutting edge RPA and OCR tools can work together for your team, then please reach out today. We look forward to helping you address the challenges and seize the opportunities you see every day in your most critical workflows.

Just What Are Those Low-Hanging Fruit?
Identifying Quick Wins In OCR Projects

In workflow/OCR consulting, early wins are often a hallmark of a successful automation project. They beget momentum, followed by buy-in, followed by wider support and adoption. That’s why–in the initial stages–even small victories can be accurate signs of a successful, high-momentum project to come.

FlexiCapture OCR solutions are all about turning the complex into the simple. They give the greatest long-term ROI on processes that were previously bound by steps and checks and human interventions. But when a project sponsor has gone out on a limb to change the status quo, putting their budget and reputation on the line, it’s wise to climb the hill before conquering the mountain.

This leaves us and our clients with the (sometimes literally) million-dollar question: “How can we identify the ‘low-hanging fruit’ that will make a quick win possible?”

Often, we take the Socratic approach and answer that question with some of our own. As a starting point, these questions have proven consistently helpful over years of OCR and workflow automation consulting.

What’s disproportionately painful?

We want to home in on the 20% of the processes that cause 80% of the headaches, as the rule suggests. Even within that subset, there’s usually one workflow that causes the most groaning and eye-rolling. That is the place to start!

If clients can pinpoint a single process that yields more than its fair share of costs or confusion, then they’ve got a prime candidate for immediate automation. After all, a highly visible pain point means that the solution will be highly visible, as well.

What information carries the biggest legal risk or compliance burden?

Just as current pains are a focus of project planning, we’d be remiss not to look at the likelihood of future pains. This is often very industry-specific, as with HIPAA compliance during/after EMR adoption, confidentiality of credit history in mortgage application bundles, etc.

Whatever the specific regulations, there are typically large and very expensive legal consequences at stake. Whenever FlexiCapture can help address data accuracy and security, a compliance-oriented automation project may be one of the quickest ways to provide value.

If you’ve tried to deploy OCR before, which business processes were involved? What got in the way?

Another opportune starting point is any process that an organization tried previously to automate, but was stymied by inadequate technology or rough implementation. On a technical level, ABBYY customers routinely find that FlexiCapture simply outdoes other applications in sheer accuracy–which is often tested head-to-head on real-life forms.

Combining standard-setting performance with a proven project planning methodology, it’s often possible not merely to resurrect older initiatives, but to see them succeed on an even greater scale than originally planned.


We want to set the stage for a victory from day one, and these questions are just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands more that help us to help you lay the groundwork for a smooth, effective, and high-ROI automation project.

Collectively, our consultants have spent several decades in OCR and workflow automation consulting, all the while building and honing a time-tested workflow toolkit. So, if your team could use some expert guidance, then we invite you to reach out today.

FlexiCapture Review: Automating Test Form Capture with ABBYY

Dubai’s Transguard Group employs individuals from around the world, and nowhere is its linguistic diversity more apparent than in its facilities and cash management services, two of the firm’s largest businesses.

Transguard’s in-house training department offers English classes to help build a more capable and competitive workforce. A portion of the 38,000 full-time employees receives an English placement test on any given day, the results of which are entered into the training group’s proprietary application.

Initially, this entry was all conducted manually, with a problematic 75% accuracy rate. It was an awkward, two-step process, with one operator hand-writing the outcomes into a results form and a second operator typing the results form into the training application. Continue reading

FlexiCapture Review: Capturing Deals by Capturing Data with ABBYY

Nothing sours the excitement of planning a trip quite like losing a last-minute bargain due to fat-fingered typing. Go Travel Unlimited, proprietor of Russian airfare aggregator AviaSales (and its global counterpart JetRadar), wanted to eradicate this frustration. And with an innovative implementation of ABBYY FlexiCapture’s OCR engine, Go Travel added value to its app by smoothing out a major wrinkle in the purchase process.

As quickly as airfare pricing and availability change, clumsy typing from a smartphone can be costly to customers. And it’s an existential threat to app developers like Go Travel, who compete on the ability to connect travelers with rock-bottom ticket prices.

The issue struck most acutely when it was time for the app’s 5 million monthly users to enter passenger and passport information. This is by far the most time-consuming step of the purchase process, and also the most critical for a valid reservation. Continue reading