Technology is constantly evolving. Better, faster, more efficient ways of doing things are seemingly in continuous supply. Finding time to research each trend and the potential implications for the meetings and events industry-that can be harder to do. But, the BCD Meetings & Events Technology Team have it in hand.
Here, they answer a few questions about Robotic Process Automation. What it is, what it does, and how it could be of assistance to meeting and event professionals.
The basics of robotic process automation (RPA)
What is RPA?
Simply put, Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, is the clear definition of a set of instructions for a “robot”, often referred to as a “bot”, to perform.
These instructions allow the bot to mimic human-computer interactions in order to carry out lots of error-free actions at high volume and speed. RPA is all about automating simple, mundane tasks and actions in order to increase efficiency and free up time for humans.
What processes are good to automate?
RPA is ideal for tasks that involve a high level of repetitive human data processing, are data-intensive, and where logic-based outcomes are expected.
Four key checkpoints:
- The process must be rule-based and repeatable.
- The process must be repeated at regular intervals or have a pre-defined trigger.
- The process must have defined inputs and outputs.
- The task should have sufficient volume.
For events such processes might be:
- Invoice recs to allow quicker closedown of projects and billing improving cash flow.
- Data consolidation across different systems for reporting.
- Automated delegate alerting to event activities.
- Automate SLA tracking with prompts to ensure delegate's queries are dealt with quickly to avoid escalations.
What types of organizations may benefit from RPA?
Support services such as finance teams are likely to benefit from RPA; accounts receivable and payables tend to have a lot of files to move, read, and re-key into finance software solutions.
It is the repetitive, low-skill tasks executed frequently by skilled people where value can be added to the business. RPA allows teams to focus their energies on more thoughtful and interesting tasks, eliminates data entry errors and can improve the team’s morale.
For meeting and event teams, RPA would:
- Free up time, allowing teams to focus on specialist value add activities providing even greater value for money.
- Speed up data entry from/to multiple sources, while avoiding manual duplication of rekeying data.
- Enable timely notifications to be sent for key events. This would allow departments to respond quickly avoiding SLA breaches or charges.
Does automation equate to job loss?
When the word automation is raised what staff often hear is “robots are coming for your job”. This can be exacerbated when the focus is on technology alone and does not mention how people can genuinely benefit from the introduction of automation.
The truth is that automation will impact jobs over time but in a positive way, by allowing teams to focus on more strategic activities. It's important teams are engaged early in communicating the benefits of automation to them not just to the business’s bottom line.