Beyond RPA: A Roadmap for Intelligent Process Automation

February 6, 2020 Pragnya Paramita

No sports team throws players onto the field without a coach and a game plan. No business hires employees without a manager to coordinate and guide them.

Along the same lines, organizations need orchestration as they deploy robotic process automation (RPA) bots to automate repetitive manual tasks such as screen scraping, credit checks, and payroll and order processing.

Analyst firm IDC calls that broader framework intelligent process automation. It spans multiple business processes, and depends on aligning RPA with technologies such as integration, workflow automation, and API management.

Going beyond simply bots, a holistic approach to intelligent automation positions organizations to realize cost savings, greater productivity, reduced errors, and a faster business.  Plus, liberating staff from tedious data chores improves employee satisfaction and retention — both of which are especially important given today's labor crunch.

Expert Insights on Intelligent Automation

IDC offers expert insights and practical guidance on how organizations can adopt intelligent process automation in a new white paper commissioned by Boomi, Simplifying and Modernizing Work Using Intelligent Process Automation.

In it, IDC explains how organizations can power intelligent process automation with elements of the unified Boomi Platform, including Boomi FlowBoomi IntegrationBoomi API Management, and Boomi Master Data Hub. In particular, Boomi Flow's workflow automation capability plays a starring role. It can connect to any application or data source, helping to drive complex automations.

Boomi Flow “scales well and aligns with the need to build processes that execute in cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground scenarios,” IDC’s paper says. “Flow is especially suited for event-driven design and processes that span ecosystems involving business and technology partners and customers.”

Read the IDC white paperSimplifying and Modernizing Work Using Intelligent Process Automation, to learn how Boomi can help you embrace simplification.

Freeing Employees to Add More Business Value

A key focus area for any organization modernizing the workplace is labor-centric automation. One segment of IDC’s broader intelligent process automation umbrella (along with system-centric automation and decision-centric automation), labor-centric automation focuses on augmenting and simplifying how work is performed across an enterprise.

“The goal is to reshape work to enable employees to spend their time on activities that add value to the business while automating repetitive, low-value work," the IDC paper says. "As enterprises make efforts to transform their business to become more digital, labor-centric automation is also critical for creating labor capacity to refocus on newer types of work.”

While the labor-centric automation space is still evolving, IDC is seeing the emergence of three use-case design patterns:

Task automation with digital assistants

Today, many organizations are rolling out RPA bots (or “digital assistants") to automate tasks traditionally performed by humans. Examples include screen-scrapers that pull data from websites to spreadsheets, and artificial intelligence (AI) tools that categorize and prioritize emails.

Task automation typically involves a bot or endpoint with an API, both of which need to interoperate with workflow software and integration. IDC expects that organizations will increasingly build digital assistants with interactive elements. Human workers will use these to exchange data and configure digital assistants for specific tasks.

Task embedding 

Organizations often address functional gaps in a primary application (such as enterprise resource planning) with a secondary best-of-breed system (such as financial close automation). But having to hop across different application can hurt worker productivity.

Task embedding helps to address the problem. For example, embedded self-service links in a cloud application can use integration and workflow technology to provide workers with information from other sources. As IDC notes, that’s especially valuable for both workers who interact with customers and teams that investigate and manage exceptions.

The worker’s journey

Some organizations are reorienting cross-application process flows from their workers' perspective. They’re aiming for greater efficiency by building successive steps that align with the "worker's journey" in use cases such as onboarding new employees and booking business travel.

Such event-driven workflows automate the bulk of work by taking information from one task and passing it on to the next. That spares workers from what IDC calls “application hopping." Instead, workflow and integration software handles back-end automation and pushes tasks to workers.

“Using this approach, the workforce doesn't waste time on low-value tasks," IDC's paper says. "Additionally, standardization and speed do have direct financial benefits, particularly if the efficiency improves the order-to-cash cycle of a business or if the vendors used for legs of a [business travel] journey have standard discounts that can be applied.”

The Future of Work

IDC also recently conducted a "Future of Work" survey, and found that 93 percent of organizations already have dedicated workplace transformation initiatives in place. Many of these initiatives incorporate automation, including RPA, to improve productivity and business results.

But RPA is just one aspect of automation. As IDC’s white paper makes clear, organizations that take a more holistic approach with intelligent process automation can really benefit. By combining workflow, integration, and APIs — along with RPA — this approach can speed performance and boost productivity.

Read the IDC white paper, Simplifying and Modernizing Work Using Intelligent Process Automation, to learn more.

Discover how Boomi can help your organization apply intelligent process automation. Contact a Boomi expert in your region today.

About the Author

Pragnya Paramita is a senior product marketing manager for Dell Boomi. She supports Boomi Flow, Boomi Master Data Hub and unified platform solutions.

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