Do the robot: The next big thing in process automation

By Ann Braley Smith, Content Editor, Dell

The nature of outsourcing is changing. With increased costs and complexity, companies are looking for ways to use employees more effectively by shifting them away from repetitive, labor-intensive tasks.That’s why process automation is a big part of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) innovation, as it takes hold in industries around the world.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) uses robot technology in manufacturing or supply chain settings. Likewise, many office tasks can be completed by “software robots” – automated systems that free employees to focus on more complex, business-critical tasks.

In a nutshell, RPA is a disruptive technology that utilizes robot or software technology to perform tasks that humans might find dull, repetitive or, in some cases, dangerous. RPA can reduce costs by improving efficiency and productivity because these types of tasks are completed quickly and consistently – and with a precision and reliability that exceeds human capability. Many believe RPA is the next big thing in BPO.

It’s all automatic

That’s why automation has made huge inroads in the healthcare, manufacturing and supply chain industries. RPA delivers accuracy and agility in response to new markets and regulatory demands, helping companies all over the world become more efficient and responsive. It’s no surprise thatglobal sales of robotic and software robot technology is on the rise, and the technology was named one of top BPO trends (PDF) of 2014.

Robotic automation technology creates a new threshold of value for BPO service providers and end user clients, according to a 2013 report called “Framing a Constitution for Robotism” by the leading analyst group HFC, who warns that while some BPOs may choose to ignore RPA, the market likely will not. 

Dell does automation

How is RPA put into practice? Dell’s Automated Full-Time Equivalent (AFTE) is a real-world example software automation technology at work.

AFTE is an extension of business process automation, where automated script/process tools eliminate the need to hire staff for repetitive tasks. This is an end-to-end, differentiated solution designed complete complex processes like medical coding, claims adjudication, repetitive data entry or rules based data capture, finance and accounting. It improves speed-to-market and touts an estimated 10 to 15 percent improvement of productivity and quality.

The AFTE model applies tools and methodology to repeat specific steps with a high degree of accuracy, performs certain activities automatically, and logically uses complex set of sequential process activities. AFTE can eliminate more than 30 percent labor on most business processes – a huge improvement by any standards.

The solution is getting noticed. Last year, Dell won the year’s Best Outsourcing Thought Leadership award in the “From Good to Great Innovation” by The Outsourcing Institute, a recognized leader dedicated to providing research, information and other services to the global outsourcing industry. The awards were presented at the BPO Innovations Conference in October. You can read the press release for details.

Automation will continue to transform industries, organizations and employees considering workflow and business processes. It will reinvent the way they plan, source and budget some of their most critical projects. It’s time to start thinking automation now. Learn more at Dell Services, and follow us @DellBPO.

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