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Yet Another Article on So Called “Digital Transformation” But This Time in the Context of Robotic Process Automation

“Digital Transformation” is one of the buzzwords that has been thrown around quite frequently these days. It seems everyone has their own answer to the question “What is Digital Transformation?” A better way to think about it is to address the “Why/How?” questions around Digital Transformation first. In this article, we try to address these questions and also talk about what role Robotic Process Automation (RPA) plays within an enterprise’s digital transformation journey.

At a high level it’s actually quite simple; A Business that is “born” Digital, is naturally a “Low/No Friction” or “Low/No Touch” business. Most enterprises that provide goods or services to customers still rely on traditional goods or services delivery models which inherently have a high overhead and costs built in.

For consumer goods, the traditional delivery model is the retail store or a wholesale network as compared to a digital delivery, for e.g. Amazon was born Digital vs. the traditional “Big Box” retailers who have always had large investments in retail real estate. Everyone already knows that only a few “Big Box” retailers have made a relatively successful transition to digital while many have folded (and some continue to fold).

For service businesses, the traditional service delivery model is a “middle man” based model. By the time the value exchange happens between a customer and an individual or group with the subject matter expertise, a big chunk of the value has already disappeared. This is where online services/SME based marketplaces are redefining the services delivery models. For e.g. GoCatalant for Management Consulting, UpCounsel for Lawyers, and Gigster for Developers etc.

The good news is that many businesses already have and are in the process of making a successful transformation into the digital world. It’s not just about enabling your product or services to be sold digitally but also about removing the “friction points” within your business processes through streamlined omni-channel digital experience. For e.g. if you are a financial institution and you allow your customer to provide/update their information through your digital channels (Web, Mobile, etc.) but your back-end processes/systems are not synced up with your digital channels, then your customers will feel the “friction” eventually. If I fill out a form for a Credit Card, Insurance or a Loan application, I am not going to wait for a few days or even hours before someone comes back to me with a decision. There are plenty of financial institutions that will take my information, guide me through the process and give me a decision on the spot (For e.g. GEICO Insurance vs. a local Broker based Insurance Application process). In addition, a “digital” business is always learning more about the customer from the data they gather and are making their products and services better based on that data. So, the digital transformation journey is about: the application of front-facing friction-less digital customer channels, the streamlining of front, middle and back office business processes, and it’s about using the “Digital Trail” of customer data to continue to enhance the “friction-less” experience.

Robotic Process Automation is a technology that can quickly address many digital gaps within front, middle and back office business processes by implementing software robots to carry out processes which are bogged down by patchy IT implementations and manual human-based processes. Although the technology projects to automate these business processes will continue in many cases, the fact is that RPA can give the business the “time to market” advantage that they need to differentiate themselves in the Digital World.