Automation of service processes
Working together with robots that think.
Many decision makers have recognized the signs of the times: a company‘s administrative and service divisions can only efficiently meet increasingly challenging customer requirements if they automate their processes to the greatest extent possible. Holistic approaches are needed to anchor new technologies deep within the corporate structure.
Pressure on companies to act is increasing, however. The costs associated with manual work steps, common media disruptions, long process run times and incomplete sources of information are increasing. Companies wishing to assert their market positions must be able to generate relevant data from unstructured content quickly and precisely. In short, there is no longer any escaping gradual digitization and automation.
TOWARDS THE DIGITAL COMPANY
RPA is a key technology in ensuring that the process of transformation from the analogue to the networked, digital company is a success. “Bots offer huge potential for the handling of sales, service and administrative processes,” explains Sebastian Ostrowicz. “Processes that were previously handled manually and laboriously, in distributed systems with high error rates, can now be completed in seconds.” It is not necessarily essential to change your IT environment in order for robots to take over routine front- and back-office tasks through automation. RPA uses the interfaces of existing systems. On the basis of algorithms, robots detect anomalies in the process, implement measures autonomously and boost sales. They analyze incoming data, assign it to the respective processes, identify relevant subject content, and use necessary applications.
However, the success of process automation is also dependent on certain conditions. A holistic approach is needed in order for the available efficiency potential to be realized across a wide range of processes, products, and services. In shared services centers, the interplay between humans and bots must be synchronized, process and product design must be standardized, and employee skills must be developed with regard to the utilization of bots. The psychological component also plays an important role in this respect. Management should take employees’ fears of being replaced by machines seriously, and involve them from the start in change management initiatives within pilot projects. Getting employees on board with process automation means spreading the message that bots are digital assistants that will relieve their human co-workers of unnecessary and cumbersome tasks. They are not intended to replace people, but rather to free up human capacity for higher-value tasks. If, on the other hand, the impression develops that only the machines are controlling the processes, acceptance and cooperation can hardly be expected.
INTEGRATED CONCEPT AS A NECESSITY
With the growing dissemination of RPA, the automation of service and customer processes is reaching a new level, approaching the conditions described above for the manufacturing industry, where bots are already handling many work steps. Digitization is contributing to overcoming technological disruptions in processes. In the future, process management and administrative processes will focus on handling special requests and exceptional cases, while standard activities will be performed by machines.
In order to implement the new possibilities in a profitable manner, there is a need for a concept that will integrate the technical innovation usefully and stringently into a management framework. Horváth & Partners has summarized these challenges in an approach to Operations Performance Management 4.0, which transfers the automation principles used in the manufacturing industry seamlessly to the requirements and peculiarities of digital service processes, and anchors them in performance management and optimization. One of the sectors intentionally driving the use of RPA is the financial services sector. Institutions in German-speaking countries are pushing for the full automation of processes. In view of increasing pressure on revenue and cost, resulting from low interest rates and stringent regulation, the implementation of bots promises banks sustainable progress in their efforts to minimize expenditures. RPA is more efficient than the outsourcing that has taken place for many years. “Using a software robot can result in considerable cost savings,” emphasizes Sebastian Ostrowicz. “In light of this, banks are toying with the idea of pulling back their outsourced functions. RPA is especially important for non-customerrelated activities and leads to higher process speeds and improved service quality.”
Developmental milestones such