At the annual Gartner Symposium conference last November, senior analyst Derek Miers provided a sober update on the state of robotic process automation (RPA) technologies.
“By 2021, task-centric RPA offerings in their current form will be obsolete. The simplistic task-focused RPA deployments that focus on routine, repetitive, rule-based workflow will give way to zeal and demand for automating more complex workflow.”
The reason why Miers said this is because the expectations of RPA are far above its current capabilities. While he predicts that RPA will exist in its current form for at least a decade, it’s important to determine whether you are automating simple tasks or complex processes.
For automating rules-based tasks at the UI level, RPA can be an effective solution. But if you are automating complex business processes at deeper integration levels (APIs, legacy connectors) wrought with changing data sources and business logic, you’ll want to consider enterprise data integration.
Imagine this common scenario:
You’ve just closed a deal with your customer that includes a 10 percent discount on all future orders for the next 12 months. The sales team enters the order into a legacy system, documenting the customer discount in a separate data field.
The order entry department within your company has implemented an RPA process that then scrapes the gross amount of the aforementioned sales order from the screen and sends that amount to a separate system – accounts payable. There’s a problem: the RPA process wasn’t set up to include the customer discount that is still residing in a separate data field, which means this critical piece of information wasn’t passed onto accounts payable.
As a result, your customer is billed the full gross amount of the order, and does not receive the discount that was promised. The customer now has to take time out of her schedule to call accounts payable, which knows nothing about the discount. Accounts payable directs her to customer service and their records are also incomplete.
Finally, the sales rep is brought in. By now, your entire customer experience has been compromised; you’ve failed to enhance customer satisfaction and reduce churn. Internally, your departments aren’t effectively collaborating across functions and levels.
This is a case where RPA’s limitations become apparent — it was automating a flawed process. In this case, it completely missed the discount data which caused a direct negative impact upon the customer.
An enterprise integration tool, which has the ability to apply processing logic (e.g., “look at the discount field to see if it contains a value greater than zero; if yes, send discount amount”), could have prevented the flow of misinformation.
An enterprise integration tool, with its advanced logic and editing capability could have ensured proper data preparation and integration with downstream systems. In contrast, an RPA process will not calibrate variabilities – if something wrong occurs, it will move forward with no questions asked.
Additionally, the backend data integration can ensure that initial order terms such as discount and notes about a customer are passed to follow-on systems such as CRM, customer service, marketing, manufacturing, and sales.
Improving the process with a goal of 360-degree data and process integration helps ensure that you never break a promise to a valued customer ever again.
How does HULFT Integrate fit into all of this?
RPA automates an upfront business process for order entry, but HULFT Integrate takes over the data integration process from there, ensuring that data is properly edited and prepared before being passed to other downstream systems. HULFT also passes this cleanly edited data to other systems throughout departments within a company that require the information. The next time your customer calls in with a discount question about an order, the person at the receiving end of the call will have the information needed to quickly resolve questions and concerns.
Does your company need RPA or enterprise-grade integration? Or both? Let’s chat and then you can decide for yourself.