The Beatles saved the world from boredom. Can a cutting-edge technology known as robotic process automation (RPA) do the same for the workplace and take the robot out of the human? Based on more than 50 RPA early organizational adopters who I have interviewed, the answer is yes.
RPA is one of the digital transformation technologies that help businesses robotize repetitive routine tasks. Just like cognitive automation, chatbots and artificial intelligence, RPA enables a higher efficiency in human actions. By programming software robots, or “bots,” to replicate administrative processes that are normally performed by human workers, you can think of it as having a virtual “employee” that can perform a repetitive activity significantly faster and more cost-effectively than humans.
(Full disclosure: My company offers RPA solutions.)
The Implementation Challenges Of RPA
At this point, most may wonder: Will these bots take my job? Fear not: Based on my research, the majority of the companies that have implemented RPA do not intend to lay off the workers who used to perform the tasks now automated by bots. Instead, they have reallocated these workers to focus on more knowledge-based, creative and strategic assignments, relieving their human employees from boring and repetitive work. Think about how Jen from accounting won’t be yawning from manually copying information from one document or system to another application anymore.
When it comes to marketing, RPA can prove to be highly beneficial and provide a competitive edge to early adopters, but when it comes to new technology implementations, employee resistance to change is almost a given, especially toward a solution that they feel can potentially replace their own jobs.
Organizations looking to digitize their marketing service chain might come across other roadblocks that include automating non-suitable processes, a lack of executive buy-in, employee onboarding, unrealistic goals, missed ROI, infrastructure constraints, security issues and other challenges that go along with most technology innovations. Marketing leaders need to work with their internal RPA sponsors to drive grassroots empowerment from day one to accelerate adoption.
RPA Can Be Applied In Many Ways To Help Your Team
If you’re implementing RPA in your organization, here are some tasks you can consider automating to free up your creative teams:
• With RPA, you can automate a variety of tasks. This can include monitoring customer activities for opportunities of upselling through segmented campaign targeting and preparing data for customer subscription or warranty renewals. Automation can also assist with campaign management data collection through web scraping and information dissemination for both marketing and sales activities.
• Bots can be programmed to monitor your client base’s policy status and identify gaps and opportunities for discounts and bundles. This will enable you to send highly segmented emails to maximize conversion and sales opportunities.
• RPA can replace reactive troubleshooting with the proactive identification of issues associated with bulk shipments of promotional materials. It can reduce cycle time by automating the promotional materials packaging process for form submission to the regulatory department, tracking the promotional material shipments status, and recording price quotes in response to promo material print production bidding into an application.
• In the imminent proliferation of data privacy regulations worldwide, RPA can also play an important role in relieving the massive administrative burden that large regulatory policies such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can present. With the regulation’s comprehensive policy to enable advanced data review rights and ongoing consent management, your marketing database is likely to deal with a flood of requests that can skyrocket operational costs. Software robots can capture the information, interpret data, perform action items and provide a response to the requester, regardless of where data resides or of its formatting. This way, companies can set up a portal for data subjects to review their stored data and update or delete their personal information. With bots searching all database systems, providing speedy responses to incoming requests and maintaining an audit trail of all requests, there’s no need for human intervention.
A change management strategy is key to the success of a disruptive implementation such as RPA. A poor communication plan and lack of executive and grassroots buy-in can lead to missed opportunities and failure to deliver full value. To avoid under-resourcing change management activities, RPA sponsors need to set up clear goals and make sure to align the strategy, processes, technology and people.
RPA and other cognitive technologies are here to stay, and the potential for them to create a fundamental shift in the way humans work is enormous. I look forward to leveraging technology innovations and taking a step closer to living in the utopian society that John Maynard Keynes predicted — stating that, by 2030, humans will be able to work an average of 15 hours a week and dedicate the rest to leisure and creative tasks.