Here are some interesting use cases that will make a significant impact in terms of the way enterprises work
While cycle time to process and its implications on enterprise cost is a known theory, in the new age of digitization, the possibilities for translating this into significant savings could be a definitive reality if executed well. RPA, cloud computing, AI, IoT, Information Management, OCR and workflow based solutions are each powerful, but a combination of two or more of these technologies integrated with an enterprise’s existing applications could deliver compelling process transformations that could have a powerful impact on the way an enterprise functions. So rather than set of RPA solutions automating tasks, RPA could be combined say with OCR solutions, Chatbot, Content management application and in turn these could be integrated with the ERP to deliver a more automated process.
With this background, let us explore some interesting use cases that will make a significant impact in terms of the way enterprises work:
With the growing need for omni-channel customer service, chatbots are being extensively leveraged as the front-end agents to work with customers, interpret the query and respond to their requirements. Only where the bot is unable to settle, does the call need to go to a live agent. When a customer raises say a complaint for attending to a faulty electronic device, the bot could pick information about the machine warranty and other customer information from the ERP and content management application, to then decide whether to provide the service free or charge the customer. The chatbot could raise a service ticket and schedule a service agent visit by synchronizing to their calendar or other applications. Likewise, the chatbot could have a payment gateway integration, ability to integrate RPA and workflows to execute processes and ultimately get the entire transaction input information to the ERP or CRM application.
Procurement and Supply chain
Visibility is key in the areas of procurement and supply chain. It gets further complex since communications spans across vendors and customers who work in multiple technological environments. Although vendor portals are not new, it is still seeing a lot of interest from enterprises due to the myriad of new functionalities offered via emerging technologies. Vendor portals incorporate solutions like OCR to determine exceptions at source, AI Chatbot to provide visibility to suppliers on payment status and answer queries and are fully integrated to content management applications to index and store associated supplier documentation including contracts.
There are several category solutions for complex and data intensive categories such as logistics, travel, freight and temporary labour. With AI Chatbot and RPA, shipments could be tracked to understand their current location. Eventually based on the data so collected, the system could provide information of best routes to take. Freight optimization tools take routing data and complete pricing schemes from multiple vendors to determine the least cost vendor combinations. Across solutions like procure to pay, performance management and spend visibility, a confluence of technologies enables process transformation more comprehensively.
People management is getting more complex and with millennials added to the workforce, it’s not uncommon for companies to be navigating three generations of workers at a time (Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Gen Ys or millennial).Each of them has different aspirations, loyalty quotients,work ethics, preferences and skill set.In order to maintain a cohesive whole,it is humanly impossible to differentiate between them.
Organisations are harnessing technologies like the AI chatbot to understand the needs of the employees. Technologies such as RPA could be combined with AI Chatbot and content management to cover various processes such as employee screening during recruitment, employee on-boarding, learning and development, employee feedback to policies and procedures administration and separation. All associated documents and related workflows across various processes could be fully automated via a content management that can be made talking to the ERP. Every employee could be supported via a chatbot that can act as a ‘virtual assistant’ and can manage all tasks such as calendar booking, leave application and tracking to responding to queries.
Although companies invest in digital technologies, the processes followed in production, maintenance, warehousing and distribution are fragmented. Enterprises are enabling visibility to information at the shop floor and integrating them to ERP systems. Technologies that record information across production lines factor yield,wastages, material usage etc. to bring operations under one system. Advances in sensor technology allows equipments to be measured and monitored from a central location. With cloud computing, AI could be applied on the massive amounts of data so collected. This in turn to determine predictive maintenance, quality control or even to control inventories.
Technology has percolated in finance for some time now. This is only set to get more advanced. The future of finance will be enabled by people working with technology. Across risk management, planning, forecasting and running shared service processes for example, a confluence of technologies such as OCR, RPA, AI and ECM technologies talking to the ERP and other finance systems to deliver processes, forecast, predict and provide proactive alerts. Biometrics, enhanced machine learning and behavioral analysis could be deployed in tandem to detect and eliminate frauds. With smart contracts linked to company policies and ERP, anomalies on payments could be detected and flagged proactively to determine what action needs to be taken. With RPA linked with say ECM and ERP, reconciliations could be easily accomplished including interaction with government portals to validate data.
There are myriad possibilities how this can be played out. With a plethora of technologies, the job of the business process owner and/or IT goes just beyond evaluation of technologies to determine how these will be brought together in the fastest possible time frame and lower costs.
It is important to first determine which combination of solutions will best deliver the outcome, the pros and cons of the various routes to automation with likely associated costs. The chosen products should ideally incorporate solutions already owned by the enterprise and then bring in and integrate those that need to be additionally invested in. As always, knowledge is the king. Enterprises that get this done in the most informed manner will stand far ahead in terms of competitiveness and performance.
As they say, the greatest gap in life is the one between knowing and doing. It will be interesting to see how enterprises will shape their future by focusing on execution.
(The author is Founder, Director – Avaali Solutions Pvt Ltd)