While the exterior mechanics of a robot may be fascinating, it is their programming and software that has the most utility for future workforces.
Why the Future of Robotics Lies in the Code
Neil Kinson | Redwood Software
Almost every industry today has greatly benefited from embracing technology, most notably as the digitization of information has allowed many tasks to become automated. However, although automated to a degree, most industries still face the challenges brought about by a large amount of people still having to perform slow manual tasks and manage a complex web of interdependent parts. This leaves senior decision makers scratching their heads as to where to look for process efficiency gains – enter Robotic Process Automation (RPA), or software robotics.
Asking anyone on the street what their perception of the future of robots is and you’ll receive an enormous range of answers – anywhere from malevolent robot overlords seen in the movie Terminator, to the friendly, domestic servants from The Jetsons. Either way, the term robot always conjures up a physical, mechanical being.
What makes robots so fascinating is not their mechanical, physical form, but the fact that they can do things as well as, or often better, than a human. Whether it be raining destruction on civilization, or simply taking the dog for a walk, the most telling indicator of their future role in society resonates from our awe at their ability to mimic and replace a human’s tasks – no matter how boring or menial they may be.
To this end, it is clear that while the exterior mechanics of a robot may be fascinating, it is their programming and software that has the most utility for future workforces. The fact that a robot’s software allows it to act independently has an enormous potential for humanity – with robotic process automation being the first stepping stone towards our Jetsons-like future.
Enterprise Process Robotics differs from traditional “automation software” by automating entire workflows from end-to-end, as opposed to individual tasks – enabling all different sections to be managed in tandem and a full, 100% accurate audit trail to be maintained. The adoption of software robotics allows professionals to focus less time on day-to-day processes and provides more time to drive value for the entire business.
Enterprise Process Robotics is a highly important evolutionary next step that businesses simply can’t ignore. This is especially true when you consider that most skilled professionals must spend much of their valuable time on repetitive processes such as planning, monitoring and coordination, when they could be focusing on finding new and more profitable avenues for progression and growth, or delivering better value for clients.
How robotization works
The majority of modern industries already use efficiency tools, most of which only function on one specific task. Due to the complexity of many interdependent tasks, these tools can become a burden to managers – often taking longer to audit than they save in time. What they really need is a solution that takes a process-centric view rather than a user centric view and automates the entire business function from end-to-end rather than a limited, siloed approach.
This removal of silos between business processes effectively creates an almost “hive-mind” approach to an organization’s workflow. Beehives, like modern workflows, have thousands of tasks that must be done just to simply continue functioning. No bee works in a vacuum, but instead all members of the hive are part of an incredibly complex and intertwined system that relies heavily on each part fulfilling its role perfectly, if the rest are to continue doing theirs. After all, the incredibly complex process of creating honey requires thousands of different bees doing very specific jobs, over and over, for the duration of their entire life. Like a beehive, not only does an Enterprise Process Robotics solution make sure that each task is being done correctly, but ensures that the relationships between these are managed correctly as well.
While completely automating all tasks across the processes is the most efficient and convenient method of managing a workflow, managers will still want to be able to track and monitor actions and output. For this reason, many solutions offer a comprehensive dashboard – a tool that supervisors can use to monitor and track all activities at a bird’s eye view. These dashboards allow full transparency of the process for additional information.
When tied in with an ERP, dashboards not only allow the instant identification of problems, but provide the ability to see how this will affect the rest of the workflow and act upon this immediately. For example, the temporary cessation of production would cause the robot to alert a supervisor to the change, and, with approval, automatically increase purchasing from other suppliers, thereby shifting transport resources to overcome these areas.
The robot is instructed by defined rules, policies, and contingency procedures, according to best practice, which are policed and monitored by an organization’s own specialists. This periodic human intervention means that processes are kept up-to-date and compliant with changing market conditions and governing operating procedures.
What does this mean for employees who work in industries about to be automated?
According to the Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index, American workers are chronically overworked, something that all of us can relate to. Not only are skilled professionals being pushed to manage the day-to-day minutia and data entry, but they have to actively drive increases in value and efficiencies for the entire organization. Enterprise Process Robotics does not replace people, but instead offers businesses a way to improve coordination and efficiency of the staff it already has, and help the business be the best it possibly can.
Redwood Software was founded in 1993 with a single-minded mission - to help organizations eliminate the costs, risks and wasted time associated with manual tasks. Redwood robotizes all processes within R2R, O2C, P2P and those within Human Capital and in the Supply Chain. Today more than 3,000 customers worldwide use Redwood's solutions to automate their business processes.
The content & opinions in this article are the authorâ€™s and do not necessarily represent the views of RoboticsTomorrow
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