Software that automates basic tasks is catching hold in large enterprises, where CIOs are seeking to inject greater efficiency into business processes.
Robotic process automation (RPA) technology enables IT departments to configure or train software to perform routine tasks, such as generating an automatic response to an email, or to tackle more complex jobs, such as process flows in insurance systems. Unlike machine learning and artificial intelligence, which organizations also use to automate workloads, RPA is governed by set business logic and structured inputs.
Accelerating legal case management
RPA is also replacing grunt work at immigration law firm Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP, which has seen a sharp uptick in business thanks to tech clients scrambling to hire staff on H-1B visas, reports CIO.com.
The firm uses UiPath’s software to collect information, including wage data, as well as resumes and passports, from government websites such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor and enter it into its case management platform, Vince DiMascio, the firm’s CIO, told CIO.com at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in May.
Paraprofessionals who previously went site by site to collect the data focus on more complex policy work.
The learning curve for UiPath is brief. Staff can “self-certify,” or train themselves to use UiPath, even building and deploying a bot within two weeks. Its implementations are managed by Ashley Fleischer, a project manager and business analyst by training.
Overall, RPA enables DiMascio’s staff to focus on other efforts, which includes adopting serverless computing, chatbots and machine learning software to simulate hiring scenarios or predict outcomes based on large data sets.
Insurance claims, now processed by bots
State Auto Financial is using RPA to cut the time the insurance company’s staff spends manually processing claims and other tasks, says Greg Tacchetti, State Auto CIO, reports to cio.com
The process for calculating vehicle total loss is historically labor intensive, requiring several humans to log into insurance systems, order loss letters, insert loss letters into envelopes and FedEx them to customers and other parties.
Now, many of those steps are “recorded” and executed by bots, which can work 24-7, boosting claims processing speeds. Ultimately, State Auto automated approximately 80 full-time equivalents of work, resulting in faster handling and higher-quality service for customers. State Auto also uses bots in HR, customer services and finance, among other business lines.
Overall, State Auto has saved more than 60,000 labor hours per year, says Holly Uhl, the company’s director of operational excellence and robotics.
The RPA work is part of a broader business transformation intended to improve the customer experience for the provider of property and casualty insurance, which serves thousands of customers across 30 states, while doubling sales to $3 billion.
Software automates travel management
David Thompson, CIO of American Express Global Business Travel, enjoyed early success with RPA after assigning a handful of engineers to explore the technology, reports cio.com
Early wins included automating the process for canceling an airline ticket and issuing refunds, a task previously performed by employees. The company is also exploring how it might facilitate automatic rebook recommendations in the event of an airport shutdown, and to automate certain expense management tasks.
“We’ve taken RPA and trained it on how employees do those tasks,” said Thompson, at the 2018 Forbes CIO Summit, as reported by cio.com “The list of things we could automate is getting longer and longer.”
Implementing RPA requires serious change management. For example, Thompson’s team had to teach business leaders how the technology works and have them evaluate their operations to see where RPA might fit. Then there is the challenge associated with reassuring 12,500 traveler counselors, some of whose tasks are being assumed by software, that they still have a job