Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Intelligent Automation

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Intelligent Automation

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Intelligent Automation

Priyatham Minnamareddy, Director, Ocwen Financial Solutions Pvt. Ltd, 0

Priyatham Minnamareddy, a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience, is a trailblazer in automation. Spearheading the creation of an Automation CoE from inception, it now empowers 40+ business units. His expertise spans Business Process Automation, Intelligent Document Processing, omnichannel solutions, and pioneering work with generative AI like ChatGPT.

In an email interaction with CEOInsights India, Priyatham shared his views on RPA benefits in bridging operational gaps and cautioned about automating without clear value. He emphasizes robust governance, adaptable architectures, and personalized automation examples to amplify efficiency while advocating for strategic alignment, agility, and continuous learning in navigating evolving tech landscapes. Below are the key extracts from the exclusive interview:

What are the benefits and challenges you have witnessed in implementing RPA at scale?
Key benefits: The implementation of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) offers a multitude of advantages. It bridges the gaps left by traditional automation methods and unlocks new possibilities. Within every organization, numerous business processes interact with multiple applications that are challenging to integrate through conventional means. RPA emerges as a powerful solution to automate these intricate processes. Virtually any business process that relies on manual execution by an agent holds the potential for automation through RPA.

Challenges: One of the primary challenges in RPA implementation is identifying use-cases that genuinely add value. While it's true that most processes can be automated, not all of them should be. Each potential process earmarked for automation must undergo a rigorous evaluation to determine its potential for generating savings. These savings can manifest as resource optimization, cost reduction, risk mitigation concerning compliance and regulatory concerns, and other factors relevant to your organization's objectives. It's crucial to ensure a positive Net Present Value (NPV) for a process before committing to its automation. Failing to do so could lead to a situation where you're effectively shifting resources without realizing actual benefits.

How does your strategy address key challenges faced in scaling RPA within the existing platform?
In meeting this challenge, the imperative lies in instituting a resilient governance process. This procedural cornerstone meticulously evaluates each automation proposal based on its intrinsic merits, rendering a decisive verdict of approval or not. Embrace the deployment of a modular Robotic Process Automation (RPA) architecture, distinguished by its adaptability to seamlessly integrate with existing systems and adeptly handle intricate processes.

Enforce robust access controls and conduct periodic security audits to fortify the protective measures shielding sensitive data. Implement a self-identification mechanism for potential issues, proactively addressing any operational gaps that may arise. Establish a comprehensive change management strategy to imbue code migrations with discipline. Furthermore, cultivate a corporate ethos that champions continuous improvement, fostering an environment conducive to the ongoing assessment and optimization of processes in alignment with the dynamic demands of evolving business needs.

How was a complex process effectively automated using RPA, leading to significant improvements in efficiency and productivity?
In the realm of automation, a one-size-fits-all approach does not suffice. Each automation idea must undergo a meticulous evaluation to determine the precise tools and technologies required for its execution. Allow me to illustrate this principle with a practical example: a process wherein agents were manually scrutinizing documents to verify customer information for data accuracy within the system. This manual approach was not only error-prone due to its inherent nature but also exceedingly monotonous, resulting in high employee attrition rates.

To address this challenge, we employed a combination of machine learning models to recognize documents and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to extract
data from these documents and images. The extracted data was then automatically compared with the information within the system. Only in cases where discrepancies arose did the process require manual verification by our agents. This strategic automation initiative yielded remarkable results, significantly enhancing operational efficiency, reducing manual errors and compliance issues, and empowering the team to double their target volumes.

What principles would you suggest to organizations starting their own transformation journey?
Numerous pivotal principles merit consideration in the pursuit of successful automation. First and foremost, align automation initiatives seamlessly with overarching business objectives to guarantee substantive contributions to organizational goals. Develop a clear roadmap delineating the automation journey from inception to hypercare, ensuring a comprehensive understanding and strategic alignment.

Foster collaboration between IT and key stakeholders, fostering open communication channels and a nuanced comprehension of business requirements. Instituting a robust governance framework is paramount to ensuring objectivity in the evaluation and endorsement of automation proposals. Above all, embrace agility as a guiding ethos, facilitating the expeditious demonstration of tangible results.

Enforce robust access controls and conduct periodic security audits to fortify the protective measures shielding sensitive data.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize the important of post deployment maintenance or planning beyond automation. The act of automating a process is, in many ways, the simplest part of the RPA journey. What follows is equally critical and demands careful planning and management. Once a process is automated, you assume responsibility for its ongoing performance. This means meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs), providing support in case of process disruptions, and maintaining the automation to accommodate future changes. All support activities must be considered to ensure that automation consistently delivers value over the long term.

For industry leaders seeking to leverage technology effectively, what actionable advice would you provide to stay ahead in today's rapidly evolving landscape?
A commitment to continuous learning, the adoption of Agile methodologies, and strategic innovation stands as imperative pillars for maintaining competitiveness in today's dynamic landscape. The swift evolution of the technology terrain presents a formidable challenge, requiring not only an adept response to keep pace but also a proactive stance to lead the curve. Strategic investments in Research and Development (R&D) are paramount, particularly in the exploration of emerging technologies and innovative approaches that possess the potential to either disrupt or elevate the industry landscape. This proactive approach serves not only to navigate the current technological milieu but also to actively shape the trajectory of the swiftly evolving business environment.

What’s your perspective on the future role of RPA and intelligent automation in reshaping financial operations and broader business strategies?
In navigating the automation journey, organizations confront a pivotal decision: initiating with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or Intelligent Automation. Swiftly establishing an Automation Center of Excellence (CoE) is vital for optimal outcomes. The CoE, as the hub of automation expertise, should encompass a range of tools—RPA, scripting, API integration, open-source tech, OCR-driven document automation, Omnichannel voice/chat bots—culminating in advanced cognitive tools like AI and ML.

Our journey started with RPA and expanded to incorporate open-source tools, empowering us to tackle diverse automation challenges. Currently, our focus is on exploring generative AI applications, like leveraging ChatGPT, recognizing its significant potential. Our evolution has been remarkable. We've transformed our organization, embedding automation at its core for enhanced efficiency. However, this path isn't devoid of challenges. There are peaks and valleys; perseverance and unwavering commitment are crucial.

Automation is the future, accelerated by the recent pandemic. Any automatable process will inevitably be automated. Our ethos: innovate constantly, disrupt, or risk obsolescence. If we don't, someone else will, leaving us behind.