Ángel Vélez Marticorena
There is no doubt that RPA is the technology by excellence to automate the workplace. RPA provides a wide range of automation options or alternatives. One of the claims of this article is to highlight how the automation possibilities of RPA are expanded when combined with AI and LOW CODE, because the three technologies together cover a wider range of capabilities than any of the technologies alone.
RPA is a technology that makes it possible to mimic most of the actions of a user at the workplace. Everything that a user can do from his keyboard with the most diverse applications and user interfaces can be done by a robot. A person, with his computer, usually performs tasks such as searching for information in internal systems or databases or in external websites; reviewing, writing and/or filling in documents, forms, emails, spreadsheets; classifying and filing information in different physical and digital formats; authorizing or denying… Well, if these tasks are performed following well-defined rules, they can be automated with robots that, for example, process invoices, issue payrolls, record orders, detect fraud, compare prices, etc.
RPA is a technology focused on the user, who imitates what he/she does on the computer. When RPA is combined with AI, we achieve robots that not only imitate, but also incorporate human capabilities such as learning (machine learning), extracting information from unstructured texts (natural language processing), recognizing images, detecting feelings… This is what we call cognitive automation, the limits of which will be those of artificial intelligence.
The combination of RPA and AI allows robots to understand the most varied types of invoices; classify and extract data from documents, contracts or public deeds; recognize images of people and products; analyze data to detect risks or behavioral patterns, etc. These “intelligent robots” replicate human capabilities and enhance employee-robot complementarity.
A robot can be programmed to perform the same tasks as a user.
LOW CODE platforms automate and accelerate the software development life cycle. With visual tools and pre-designed components, multi-experience applications are built: web, mobile, conversational interfaces, augmented reality… integrated with corporate systems, in ten times less time than with conventional tools.
LOW CODE is, in short, a new way to design and develop applications much more efficiently. The primary utility of LOW CODE platforms is to automate and optimize end-to-end business processes from the ground up. It is an alternative to conventional IT tools that is mainly used to respond to business needs that can be modularized outside the core business managed by corporate systems. The speed with which a new application is developed is such that it is even justified to invest in applications whose use is temporary, a few weeks or months.
As RPA operates at the user interface of any application, it can be integrated into a LOW CODE platform that acts as a process orchestrator, managing a flow of tasks between robots, people and other systems. The joint use of RPA, with or without AI, with LOW CODE platforms, enables end-to-end automation, adding the capabilities of both technologies.
A highly interesting aspect is that when the LOW CODE platform acts as a process orchestrator, it provides complete visibility into the flow and performance of each task, achieving a monitored orchestration with 360-degree user control.
RPA and LOW CODE are high-performance technologies. The projects are of short duration, only a few weeks, and the results are almost immediate. The benefit is perceived quickly, with savings and investment under control at all times. RPA and LOW CODE share the agile methodology in the design, development and maintenance cycle.
Agile facilitates communication with users, rapid delivery and the introduction of changes and evolutions to constantly adapt to the needs of the business. There is no doubt that there will be a before and after in the workplace as a result of automation. Today, when we have just begun to automate, we can already see the first results.
Low Code technology enables companies to develop applications 10 times faster.
Thinking about the transformation of today’s workplace as a result of automation is an interesting exercise that helps us to understand the changes that are coming. The first thing to say is that the automation of jobs through RPA, AI and LOW CODE is not going to be a passing trend. These technologies are and will be at the heart of business innovation. Everything that can be automated will be automated; this is the concept of “hyper-automation” which, in my view, is irreversible because it is a simple, economical and safe way to strengthen the competitiveness of companies.
RPA automates tedious and repetitive tasks. AI complements employee capabilities. And LOW CODE orchestrates end-to-end automation and employee-robot cooperative work. A hyper-automated company will be a company with more productive, more efficient jobs and very few errors. Automation will change the tasks that are part of a job, because some of the most tedious and repetitive tasks will be performed by a robot. As a result, the skills of these jobs will be redefined.
It is obvious that customer relationship, creative design, conflict resolution, negotiation and business development skills will be more highly valued.
To foresee other effects of software robotization, it is illustrative to look at the effects of industrial automation that has been decades in the making. Industrial automation eliminates jobs of one type: the most manual and hardest jobs, and generates new types of jobs: those dedicated to automation itself. Similarly, software automation will eliminate jobs whose main occupation is to perform repetitive tasks, while creating jobs dedicated to the design and development of new automation and the maintenance of existing ones. Many companies will create a CoE or center of excellence in charge of automation.
Companies that are committed to customer service will be the first and most decisive to automate their workplaces. By freeing up hours of automatable work, dedication to the customer is boosted, without the need to increase staff. Reducing errors avoids incidents, complaints… Faster processes shorten the processing time and achieve a better response time to the customer.
What we see with our customers is that automation is very well received by users. Robots are the virtual assistants that do the hardest work and allow more time to be spent on the valuable function associated with the job. The employee perceives that he is doing his job better, that the tedious tasks are disappearing and that he is focusing on what is really important. In my opinion, a workforce focused on the tasks that add value is the best competitive weapon.