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.