Chatbots And Robotic Process Automation: A New Paradigm Of Human And Machine Interface

Ansari Nubeel

As the new workhorse for the organization, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bots are expected to transform the way business processes will be executed and employees transact with systems. Bots coupled with robotic process automation (RPA) can help business executives benefit by moving away from repetitive tasks to focus on deep thinking and creative work.

“By 2019, 75% of workers whose daily tasks involve the use of enterprise applications will have access to intelligent personal assistants to augment their skills and expertise.” (Source: IDC)

While deploying chatbots and RPA, it is important to consider a unified approach, as together they provide more advantages than either used separately. RPA can significantly improve chatbots’ capability for handling complex requests and produce more accurate output by replicating human interactions with backend systems and applications. Chatbots, on the other hand, provide a natural, conversational, interactive, and simplified interface for users. Chatbots and RPA complement each other to support any level of business and process complexity.

This unified approach of combining AI-powered chatbots with RPA can help organizations unlock value in the following key areas.

Increasing workforce productivity

Repetitive tasks and activities can be easily automated using a bot and RPA. An example could be accessing basic transactions like checking inventories and spare parts or approving purchase orders or employee-leave requests. It could also help employees fetch relevant information while performing complex transactions. With voice bots, employees can transact simply by speaking, taking productivity improvements to the next level. For example, instead of manually examining all the POs awaiting approval, a manager can simply say – “approve all POs with value less than $100,000,” and the system will promptly execute the transaction.

34% of business executives say that the time freed up from using digital assistants allows them to focus on deep thinking and creativity.”(Source: PwC)

Transforming the user interface

The widespread use of social media-style user interfaces (UI) has led employees to expect a similar type of interactive UI in enterprise software systems. Much has already been achieved, and it’s now possible to access enterprise software systems from multiple user channels with simplified UIs. Bots can further transform employees’ interactions with enterprise systems. For example, instead of selecting a transaction to create a sales order, employees can just say or type “create sales order” to initiate a transaction and a digital assistant will guide them through the process.

42% of consumers already use digital assistants, while 72% of business execs and 53% of millennials are using them.” (Source: PwC)

Adding intelligence to transactions

We all expect real-time intelligence and responses to our queries, including in our enterprise systems. For example, a maintenance worker assessing a failure would want to know the details of the last similar failure. Normally, getting that data would mean going through multiple transactions and selections before finally getting the required information. With bots, the maintenance worker can speak or type some keywords about the failure, then the AI engine can identify the transactions needed to get the past details, and RPA can execute the transactions. This augments human knowledge with AI and substantially improves the quality of services, maintenance, and any other work that requires knowledge and intelligence.

“Chatbots will be responsible for cost savings of over $8 billion annually by 2022, up from $20 million in 2017.” (Source: Juniper Research)

Transforming customer service

Companies are looking to create long-lasting relationships with their customers. Often, the weakest point in these relationships is when a customer reaches out to customer service for support. Despite regular efforts to ensure front-line call center staffs are adequately trained, an inadequate first response will give the customer a bad perception and potentially a reason for customer churn.

AI-powered bots can be a great tool to automate level-one support for customer service requests, leading to a consistent and standardized response across any available user channel. Customer satisfaction increases when customer service is available 24×7 (as a bot can do) and accessable through any of the available channels – Facebook Messenger, Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, etc.

“Chatbots will power 85% of all customer service interactions by the year 2020.” (Source: Gartner)

According to McKinsey, new-age Internet robots and virtual assistants will serve as gatekeepers for critical channels, such as chat, voice, and automated interactive-voice-response systems (IVRs).

Summary

AI-powered bots with RPA are expected to transform how the workforce and organizations will interact with stakeholders. The average employee will become an exception handler, focusing on complex activities, while repetitive tasks will be done by bots and RPA.

To unlock value with bots and RPA, start by picking a few scenarios across corporate processes (e.g., HR, finance, and procurement), so the bot and RPA can be configured quickly. Over time, add more scenarios with increased complexity and channels of interaction.

Learn more about How Bots Can Generate Value For Enterprises.


Ansari Nubeel

About Ansari Nubeel

Nubeel Ansari is the Digital Leader for Oil & Gas and Utilities industries at SAP India. He is responsible for driving SAP India's Go to Market for these industries, and engage with key customers in these industries through value management, customer co-innovation, digital transformation, and business process performance improvement programs by developing road maps, reimagining business models, and helping them reduce costs with digital technologies.