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Robotic process automation, the new technological frontier

Expert.ai Team - 9 February 2017

The automation of human labor has been happening since the industrial revolution. While robotics has been traditionally used to replace labor-intensive work in industries such as automotive and electronics, new developments are bringing it into a perhaps unexpected environment: the office. In this post, we’ll talk about the next frontier of automation: Robotic process automation.

Robotic process automation (RPA) uses software robotics to automate knowledge-based business processes. As with other applications of robotics, RBA targets processes that are labor-intensive, repetitive and prone to error (and therefore expensive).

Why companies need robotic process automation

According to experts, cost reduction, quality improvement and productivity are the top priorities for sustaining business growth. Robotic process automation offers the opportunity for businesses to automate a wide variety of time-consuming processes such as customer complaints analysis, claims management, policy administration, patient registration, new customer onboarding, and more.

Thanks to automated support, using RBA, human operators can focus on the more interesting, non-repetitive aspects of their job, in turn improving their engagement with strategic tasks and the quality of results.

Robotic process automation: How it works

Let’s look at an example of robotic process automation in the claims management process.

In processing claims, agents must manually review the claims and all related documents to verify whether the claim is covered by the policy and, based on that information, to decide whether to approve or reject the claim. A cognitive software, based on sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms, can automate this process in a way that is similar to how a human agent would manage it. Just like a live agent, Cogito reads the claim, analyzes the content and extracts the relevant data to help the actual agents validate the customer request.

In this example, a human manager handles the final approval ( software cannot take the place of humans place in all processes, after all (at least not with the same quality performance). In fact, robotic process automation allows mutual support and a collaboration between software and human workers, not a complete replacement.

The historical benefits of automation

Historically, there has always been a fear that technological innovations will completely replace human workers. While it will replace some human jobs, to a large extent, it will create new and different jobs for humans.

Let’s not forget how the first factory machines, adopted at the beginning of the industrial revolution, improved the quality of worker’s lives, changing their roles from manual activities to supervision, strategic management of processes and decision making. Robotic process automation will allow workers to focus on more complex tasks that require the uniquely human abilities of perception, judgment and the ability to personally connect with customers that (at least for now), machines cannot replicate.