How to Accelerate Digital Transformation - American Technology Consulting

Software

How to Accelerate Digital Transformation

Nick Reddin

Published December 23, 2019

Subscribe to the blog

Click here to view the full webinar.

Businesses are experiencing their fourth technological evolution, or disruption. This is when technology is changing at such lightning speed that keeping up feels impossible. Technology is once again changing how we work, but this time instead of helping humans do work quicker and more accurately, robotic process automation, or RPA, is doing the work for them. 

It’s time to start embracing this new era of digital transformation. ATC’s Nick Reddin walks you through this latest evolution and explains how working with technology, instead of running from it, can lead your company to greater success and a more satisfied workforce.

Interested in being a speaker on our webinar?
Let us know!

Introduction

Kelsey Meyer: Let's go ahead and get started. Today we're going to talk about accelerating digital transformation, specifically in the realms of HR and finance. We have some demos of work that we've been completing recently as well, so that's going to be really exciting. Our vice president here at ATC, Nick Reddin is going to be the person presenting today. Our partner for RPA, or robotic process automation, is UiPath. Nick and UiPath put together this presentation that he's going to present to us today, which is going to be great. We are very lucky to have Nick here at ATC. He has over 25 years of experience in technology that we're able to take advantage of. He works with Fortune 500 companies and specializes in innovation and disrupting business. 

That's a little bit about Nick and now a shameless plug for ATC. We are a business solutions company that helps our clients bridge technology and process gaps in order to accelerate their growth and scale their business.The solution to do that is broad. It can be RPA, it could be staffing, it could be cloud transformation, SAFe training, all kinds of stuff. But today, specifically, we're going to talk about RPA. With that I'm going to go ahead and hand it over to you, Nick. 

Nick Reddin: Great. Thanks a lot Kelsey. I appreciate it and thank you everybody for attending today. We have a great turnout so obviously this is a topic that I thought would be interesting to folks and apparently it is. Let me walk through the agenda briefly with you. 

We're going to talk about RPA and one of the reasons we're going talk about RPA. It's called accelerating digital transformation. As Kelsey said, a lot of what we do here is helping companies with their digital transformation. RPA sits at the heart of that. I'm going to make the case for that as we go through this. But then I'm also going to show a couple of different demos, about three demos altogether, as we go through the presentation and, specifically, how RPA can apply to HR. The two segments that I am getting the most interest in from companies that I'm meeting with are finance and HR, simply because there's just a lot of processes there and a lot of things that are redundant that can be fixed or sped up, or flat out automated. 

That's going to be what we talk about today. This is going to be the agenda. And so we're just going to get going through it. If you have any questions along the way, please feel free to submit those questions. And I'll either try to answer them as we go, or we'll answer them towards the end or at the end of the presentation. 

So are you keeping up with digital transformation? This is a word that is everywhere. Almost to the point that it' has kind of lost its meaning in some senses. Not everybody understands what digital transformation means or really what it is. A lot of companies I've met with said they're doing digital transformation, that they're committed to it. But really all they mean is they're just bringing in new types of technology, they're not doing an end-to-end transformation of their enterprise from a technological standpoint. 

They're just adding new cloud or SaaS based platforms into the organization. Real digital transformation is much more than that. Everybody faces pressures from all kinds of sources, and all of these sources have a direct impact on the bottom line. Cost containment, meeting the main initiatives set by your board, the existing processes you have in place today all have a direct impact on the speed and number of resources needed to maintain operational efficiency. Does this sound right to you? Which ones are causing you the most issues? All the companies I meet with are struggling somewhere within one of these circles. Whether it's the customer expectations, because we know customer expectations have changed, especially if you're in retail and you have brick and mortar. Those expectations are completely different than they were before. 

Market saturation, more companies springing up, more competition springing up in newer companies and newer technologies. All of these pressures, while companies have to perform and have to be able to make dollars, keep the stock prices, keep shareholder value. It's just a tremendous amount of pressure coming from all over the place. But with all that pressure, the core priorities stay the same. While the challenges have multiplied, the basic requirements of business have not changed. Any new technology that you bring on board should not only help you with the former, but has to help you with the latter as well. So when you look at these four boxes, all these things are still things that have to be focused on. Every company has to focus on increasing revenue, lowering costs, employee engagement, compliance risk. 

All of these things are still core. Now is not the first time that the business world is evolving. Some people are calling this the fourth evolution or the fourth disruption. There's a lot of different terms that people are calling it. The fourth industrial revolution. I've heard it about a million different ways to be honest with you. Previous technological disruptions had a profound effect on the world and work just like you would expect. When you think about how the PC or the internet have changed our approach to work or processes or workflows, everything changed. And now we believe that AI, computer vision, cloud, big data, that these things are now converging to create another disruption point. So when you take all this into account, you have to think what is the world of work going to look like 10 years from now? What is going to change? 

We're putting all these kids into STEM and forcing STEM all over the place. But what if automation, the speed of transformation, of how programming is done and technological disruption happens doesn't really have the need for them by the time they're actually ready to go to work because programming itself will have an AI component? And so things are becoming low code, no code, drag and drop, and very graphical. So the level of training and the level of sophistication that you need to program and make these things work for you is not nearly what it was three or four or five years ago. It's changed dramatically and it's going to keep changing. So they say automation is the next disruption of work and I absolutely agree with that. Everybody is writing about it. All the top analysts from McKinsey to Gartner. You'll see a lot of those quotes as we go through this, but everybody is writing about it and everybody is saying it because it's actually happening and we're seeing it, starting slowly and now we're starting to see it even more at scale. 

We're seeing growth within true automation at unbelievable rates, at a precedent where we've never before experienced. When you look at this quote from McKinsey, it's very telling. This was back in 2017 before they really understood what was going to be happening and how effective robotic process automation would be in speeding up the automation of work. 

What is Process Mining?

Nick Reddin: Automate all that is possible. Business processes, end-to-end, hyper automation. That's the number one trend on Gartner's list for "Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020." When you look at these boxes on the right and you look at all these things that are in there, the AI skills, the machine learning process, mining, long running workflows, native integration, advanced analytics, these are things that people are doing every day in some form. And when we look at a workflow, when I go into a company and I talk to them and they ask, "Can we automate this? What can we do do? What do you need to know in order to understand what this workflow looks like? That's where process mining comes in. 

Process mining is a program that sits on a computer and basically watches every move that a person makes at their desktop in order to understand the workflow. It then recommends what the best automation would be. Now that said, somebody's job 100% typically can't be automated, but maybe 70% of what they do can be automated. Maybe 50% or only 30% of it can be automated. But that's where process mining has really helped speed up adoption and speed up the path to automation by its ability to watch and see. You let it run for about a month on a lot of different desktops within the same departments. Then you walk away with a kind of heat map of the processes that are most apt to be automated and would seemingly make the most sense. We then work back with the client and with the people doing the work to see if that really makes sense for what they think and what their job is. 

Ninety-three percent of organizations say that automation kickstarts digital transformation. I don't think that's being disingenuous. I think that's pretty true. When we've started a project like this, especially within the larger organizations, it starts to add a lot more breadth in what they're thinking about when it comes to automation. It gets them excited and then it kicks things up quite a bit because they start to see tangible results. Typically, like any company, they're looking for tangible results within the PLCs. They want to make sure that there's going to be ROI. Everybody loves the shiny new thing, but if it doesn't have ROI attached to it, we know it's not going to go very far. 

But it's bigger than that. When a technology like this emerges and it's so disruptive, it becomes a matter of survival for many companies we've seen in previous eras and previous massive disruptions that had come and fall to the wayside because they were outpaced by competitors who adopted those technologies or were born in those technologies. That's what happens. You look at that bottom right corner and you have to think to yourself or about your company, "What's going to keep us out of that era? How can I begin our automation journey using a bot?" 

It's kind of funny when you look at Blockbuster or taxis. While taxis are still around, they're not nearly thriving as they were of course. Blockbuster has gone by the wayside so much that when my kids watched Captain Marvel and she flies into Blockbuster, they had no idea what it was. I had to explain to them what a Blockbuster was. That's how much things have changed. That's also how much things have forgotten. When you look at businesses that have started, it's hard enough to stay in business. 

Why Fear Hurts Businesses

Nick Reddin: From 1994 to today of the 595,000 businesses that were started in 1994, only 16% of those businesses are still in business today. They're being replaced or they're going away. A lot of it stems from not understanding the competitive landscape. A lot of it stems from fear of implementing technology. They don't understand, aren't sure they can afford it or don't know that it's really going to change things. Microsoft is an unfortunate example of that early on when when Bill Gates completely disregarded the internet and it took them years to catch up, to get a foothold and to really take advantage of the position that they had. 

Unfortunately they lost a lot of ground along the way. Fear can be a great motivator either to do something, but fear can also be a motivator to just sit, stay stagnant, and then ultimately get passed by your competitors. That's something that today with the speed of transformation and the speed of transition with technology, companies need to be paying attention to and be very aware of. RPA robots are capable of mimicking many, if not most, human user interactions. They can log into applications, they can move files and folders, they can copy and paste data, they can fill in forms, they can extract structured and semi-structured data from documents, scrape browsers, and more. Essentially any high-volume, business-rules-driven repeatable process qualifies for automation. 

I'm going to show you a demo right now that's going to walk you through a robot at work. 

Demo voice-over: We're about to see a robot performing the following activities: Monitoring a dedicated folder where invoices are saved in PDF format. Reading invoices from that folder one by one. Extracting key information from the invoices. Opening SAP. Filling in invoice details in SAP. Sending email notifications. 

Demo voice-over: Please note that the robot will do some activities in the background, such as: most of the invoice-related actions. Monitoring a folder or checking its email address. Now let's see it working! Right now it's monitoring a folder where three invoices are stored and collecting all the information needed so it can register them one by one. It then asks the tester to introduce the email address where the posting notification will be sent and also performs basic checks to see if the SAP is open and runs it on its own. If not logging into SAP using its credentials, it then starts processing the invoices one by one. We can see it filling in data such as vendor code, invoice date, invoice number, invoice amount, invoice description and GL account and ends up by filling the payment term. Following that, it registers the remaining two invoices in the assigned Company code. An email containing the SAP registration number is sent automatically by the robot after successfully registering each invoice. Checking in the background, the robot verifies whether the VAT on the invoice matches the one in our database and if so, will post it automatically. Otherwise, it will park it and send a dedicated email to the responsible person highlighting this difference and asking what to do: post the invoice or to cancel it and send it back to the vendor. 

Demo voice-over: All the invoice's details are visible in the email it sends so let's reply with "YES" to the message for an invoice with a VAT difference. Finally, it will check its email address in the background, access SAP using the appropriate transaction code and post the invoice. And that's it. The robot has successfully posted the three invoices in SAP! 

Nick Reddin: That just gives you a brief example of what a robot can do. I'm going to show you a couple more demos towards the end of some HR-related functions. When you look at that and you see what the robot is able to do, it's pretty powerful, especially if you're running a large finance operation. You look at the companies that are out there, the big finance organizations, like PWC. They have the largest robot deployment so far of anybody. They have 30,000 at work every day internally doing just a tremendous amount of work on invoicing and processing and all those functions that you just saw. The Axiom that I do believe is anything that can be automated will be. I believe that because that's what I see when companies start. They start small and then they see what can be accomplished. 

It doesn't take long to start to move to other areas and start to then become an automation first company that before they put a job out there, before they make that next hire, they start to think about what part of this or can this job be automated and what can be done here. Automation touches everything. Again, it's invisible robots that are doing all this work. A lot of times when you watch these demos, they're not really exciting because it's like standing behind somebody looking over their shoulder and watching them do their work. It's the bot doing all the actions and the bot doing all the work. It's pretty impressive when you think about what can be accomplished that way. 

Customers have really responded well. It's now a C-Level priority. One of the things I always tell people is anything that's a C-Level priority and it starts at the top is going to go all the way down through the organization. The people that I meet with and the people that want to speak about this the most are typically at the C-Level. Of all the engagements that we've had. C-Level is very engaged, very interested, and very aware. 

The number one title, if you will, bringing RPA into the company or at least researching it at a very high level are the CFOs. That may or may not be a surprise, but again, finance is a great application for it as well as just wanting to help the company save money and being as efficient as humanly possible.

You look at State Auto. This is a great quote because they've gone from people not even having heard of RPA to being one of the most talked about things in our planning meetings. Time and time again that's what I see within organizations. They get a taste of it once they start to understand what it can do. Once the culture understands it's not there to take their jobs away, but it's there to enhance their work and add to their work and in some ways act more as an assistant, then they're not fearful of it and they start to want to take advantage of it and become more engaged with it. They want to help lead with the best practices if you will. 

These are some of the companies that are using it right now. These are innovative companies that are wanting to take the latest technology and put it to work because of its ability around governance. That's why companies really like it because it's highly governed. It doesn't upset the internal IT infrastructure. It complements it if anything. There's about every vertical you can think of using RPA at some form or at some level. Typically the bigger the company, the more they're wanting to do a POC to try it out in their organization and start to see what it can ultimately do for them. 

I'll talk a little bit about some of these directly in a few minutes, but increasing employee satisfaction, engagement, that's really what it's about. It's taking the robot out of the human. It's about rebooting work. If I have somebody that is doing the same mundane processes every single day and I can have them do more high touch, high value work and have a bot do 30% of that person's job, that's going to make that employee a lot happier. That's going to increase satisfaction. That's going to increase employee engagement. But not only that, it also is going to increase customer satisfaction on the other end, whether it's an internal customer or another department or an external customer that they're working with. 

So you've got this fast time to value. Typically ROI is achieved anywhere between 9 and 12 months. What we see, depending on how much a company wants to scale, a disruption and errors typically become a thing of the past. We see that fast adoption and then we follow up with training and helping companies own their bots so to speak. At the end of the day, they have people internally that can program them, that can work with them, that can fine tune them if a process changes from when it originally started. 

As Kelsey said early on, and as you have seen through the presentation, we are a gold partner with UiPath and it's what they call an Enterprise RPA Platform. And that's kind of misleading a little bit because it's a platform for everybody. We've implemented in smaller companies, medium companies, as well as enterprise companies. So it's able to be used by anybody really. 

There are three components that make up the platform. You have the studio, which is where you design the work that is going to be done and all the workflows, everything that's going to happen takes place within the studio. Then you have the orchestrator. The orchestrator manages all of the bots and all the work:when they function, when they don't, when they're on, when they're off. It's all of that that it does. Basically the orchestrator is the manager for the robots and it makes sure that they're doing what they're supposed to be doing. Bots can run in a multitude of ways. And we'll talk about that a little bit here in just a second. 

A Look Inside the UiPath Studio

Nick Reddin: This is what the UiPath Studio looks like. This is where you are able to design your automation. A lot of it is drag and drop. It's visual. It's not very difficult. If somebody is a really strong Excel power user, they would feel very comfortable after getting training on studio in order to be able to be very effective in it. I've seen really strong Excel power users able to start programming robots within three to four hours. Again, this would be minimal programming, not a huge workflow or anything like that, but they tend to get comfortable really quickly. It doesn't take a tremendous amount of technical in house skill in order to do this or a huge outlay of dollars for salary either. 

These are the robots that we have out there and you're able to run them from a desktop, a data center in the cloud. So no matter how your company is set up, governance-wise or security-wise, there's a lot of ways for the robots to be able to work. UiPath supports the widest set of back office and front office processes and synchronization even with legacy systems and is also of course ready for what we would say our future applications. It supports both straight through processing, which would be unintended robots, and human-in-the-loop. That's attended robots so that they can avoid conflict between human and the mouse, so to speak. Sometimes a process needs human intervention, what we call human-in-the-loop. Maybe it is an invoicing, and the person at the desk has to take a look at it. 

The robot would then pause at that point, the person goes in, reviews it, makes sure everything is correct or whatever tasks that they have assigned to it, and then they click OK. Then the robot continues the process for the rest of that workflow. That's where you see what we call attended or attended in tandem. Then UiPath computer vision reads the screen documents in a humanlike manner so that we are able to have more robust automations. We think it's the most accurate, fastest automation, especially if a Citrix based virtual desktop environment. We've seen that work really well. They're highly efficient, very low memory footprint. You don't have to get special laptops or special computers typically. Any standard desktop that's two, three or four years old does not have a problem running the bots, and these high density robots deliver multiple on a single server or virtual machine. So again, a very low footprint, very non- intrusive into a technological environment or into your infrastructure and then can run really clean. 

These are some of the ways I was referring to and how they can work together. We want humans to focus on high value, cognitive or creative work or interacting with people. I know that's what I want from my job. I know with my kids, that's what they want from their jobs and our employees, that's what they want from their jobs. So when we're able to automate that mundane, repetitive tasks that frees them up to doing things that they may not have had as much time for. Whether it's reaching out to customers and making sure they're happy from a phone instead of through email or just other high value touches and functions that they typically aren't able to do. When you see these attended robots, they're at an employee's workstation. They're triggered by specific events, actions or command, and then the employee engages within a specific workflow. You have a lot of different ways that the bots can interact. 

Fully unattended is just what it says. It's where the robot is handling an end-to-end workflow and it's doing 100% of it. If there's an exception or something that it can't do or see because information is missing, it puts it in a queue and then it alerts whoever the assigned user is. It can alert them either on their desktop, in a queue or even on a mobile app. And they can clear the exception from their phone while they're out doing something else in the field. 

The orchestrator is what I had talked about. This is where you're able to control, manage, and monitor the digital workforce. There's multiple options for deployment that are available. It can be on-prem, it can be a private cloud, public cloud, UiPath cloud. There's a multitude of ways that we're able to deploy and secure and make sure that it's working well within the environment. One of the keys that I talk about quite a bit is governance. Making sure that you have a really strong governance around your robots and around who's able to access them, program them. Because just like anything in technology, if you have somebody go rogue and program a robot to do things that it shouldn't be doing, or transferring funds, doing an offshore account, which we don't want, then that would be due to a lack of governance. 

You want to make sure that you have really strong governance and we help companies put that into place to make sure that not just anybody can just access and start programming robots and then sending them loose to do nefarious things.

So where do you start? That's always the question I get. We'll walk through that. Even though it's called an enterprise product, the various options available for setup and scaling the project mean that you can start with a cloud account that allows you to build a proof of concept in days rather than weeks. At the other end of the scale we can build your own infrastructure as an on-prem solution that gives you full control over the implementation. There's a lot of different ways to approach it, and I've probably approached it from just about every way you can think of from a departmental level, a regional level, kind of slice the pie however you want. Grow at scale how you want. We're committed to our customers with this journey and making sure that everything is working, that it's put into place, and that the transition is very smooth. 

The way that we typically recommend when we're doing a POC with companies is you'll start with something small, start with kind of an easy process, start with something that is very structured, very redundant. The process doesn't change a whole lot. Then let's watch that process run so that you can see how well it's able to work, how well it's able to move through the workflows, and how fast it's able to get things done. Once we kind of see that and we deploy that, then we start to see to scale from there. We might start in one department. Maybe it's the finance department and then we go to HR. Then there is a multitude of departments. Sometimes it's customer service next, it just really depends on the company. It doesn't take long to start to scale up. 

Four Key UiPath Skills

Nick Reddin: Within UiPath, there's four key skills that are embedded into it. First, we have visual understanding. That's AI that automatically identifies and completes the UI element. So that's menus, login, scrolling, things like that. That lowers the need for technical selectors or APIs. It also maintains automation robustness even after software upgrades. That's really important to it. Second, we have document understanding. That's including template-less less processing of receipts and expenses, invoice extraction and processing, email classification for service centers. The third is conversational understanding. That's the ability to analyze sentiment of text, chat, and voice inputs. It can classify inputs in order to automatically route them to the right team, execute requests. We can work with chat bots, voice assistance, but then even within email, that visual understanding, it can also understand intent and sentiment within an email. 

It knows if somebody's angry based on the wording that's in that email and then can route that email to the appropriate person or escalate it appropriately. It can also understand an email that just says thank you, and then they know that's an email that really doesn't need to be routed anywhere. The fourth one is process understanding. We're visually learned from the user behavior, so it observes the inner departmental patterns and processes and then it automatically identifies new automations and new efficiency opportunities. We think that these capabilities really solve the most common and urgent customer needs. It is where we're focusing and where UiPath is focusing to continue to grow because between these four things, we're really seeing that we're able to meet the customers at small or enterprise level. 

The technology here enables security to get better, faster, and cover more areas than ever before. Something that everybody is concerned with is the security, the scope of audits. Usually, before RPA, you have a standard audit coverage on average of about 10% or less, especially within banks, which we've worked with a few of them. Post RPA audit coverage can be 100% if they want. Every action that the robot takes is documented in video and also documented within the ledger, within the database, etc. But you can always go back to it to see exactly what happened. And these are little small files so they don't take up a lot of room, but you're able to have 100% audit coverage. When we're working with banks or even finance departments, that's one of the things that they get really excited about for reasons that you could probably understand. 

Then we have process design and execution. So pre RPA you've got multiple processes across geographies for same activity, invoicing or server creation. Then after RPA we have a standardized, single process by robot that can be modified based on a controlled environment. So everything changed. Then you have an ecosystem that pre RPA has all these manual interfaces to create automations via middleware, risk to servers, access, and systems. Afterwards, RPA utilizes the UI elements to interact with the system, so there's no coding changes in the systems at all. Then of course there's manual error before RPA. Human input processes can contain multiple manual errors from typing, the timing, to all kinds of things. Afterwards, you have attended automation that can again have humans in the loop if needed or not. Then it's controlling what's inputted into the system as well. So you start to see errors go down tremendously. Efficiencies pick up and thoroughly put a drive forward at levels that you're not used to. 

The ecosystem is massive. The reason it is is because companies are understanding the value of RPA, so they're wanting to get on board and add to what RPA can do. There's a tremendous amount of native integrations that can take place. Almost any platform, even platforms that are not API friendly can be logged into. I worked with a number of nonprofits, and a lot of their systems are really old, legacy, and very locked. We have a bot that is acting as a user. It's able to log in, download files, and then send those files automatically to their business intelligence solution to create reports. Then the bots are able to pick up from there and continue to do those automatically to serve up weekly reports, whether it be for donors, justifying the grants that they've received, for all kinds of things that the nonprofits need reporting for. So for a lot of them, if depending on their size, have had one person that their whole job was basically reporting, pulling information out, creating reports, doing ad hoc reports, all these things in order to get the information to folks that needed it. With RPA coming into the infrastructure that goes away. 

We see a lot of different cases. You look at at Walmart, one robot alone here created 350,000 hours annualized. Now again, I get Walmart is a massive company, but when you look at the 160 plus FTEs, that is tremendous. Or you look at Equifax and the quality, speed of costs, the compliance. Like they say, it's not a cost play, but you look at a company like an Equifax where compliance is really everything. Or Suncoast Credit Union, 11x higher lending following Hurricane Irma. We look at all these things, deploying robots to speed lending and then Generali, West Monroe, everything we see really does a great job. I had a chance to speak with the head of Walmart's division that handles digital transformation. The robots and the stories I've heard are just amazing. How the culture has embraced the bots instead of being afraid of them.They did a really good job up front preparing their culture for the bots coming in. 

When you look at this list, there's a tremendous amount of companies out there that are doing it. Over 14,000 people have attended the events just last year alone. When you look at the very last segment there, federal and public sector. That speaks to the security, that speaks to the compliance, whether it's the GDPR or anything else, the bots are 100% compliant and they're only becoming more so, which is good. 

Let's talk about HR and RPA and where HR really kind of kind of fits into this. As we know, HR has a lot of redundant processes. I think it was McKinsey had said 93% of what HR does is a redundant process, which makes it really ripe for RPA. Now, just because the process is redundant doesn't mean that 93% of everything they do can be automated. It just means that they've got 93% redundant processes, which means there's a lot of opportunity there for automation. So when we look at HR, we look at the market realities, we've got shifting employee workplace expectations. We're seeing that all over the place, whether it's work from home. Plenty of people, let's pick on the millennials for all the demands that they make. And you know, we've just got so many things. Again, you've got the dynamic market climate, the accessibility, and new technologies. But HR has a lot of priorities. They're the linchpin for most organizations. They've got to drive employee engagement, enhance talent targeting, implement individualized employee development plans. There's so much they have to do. 

RPA - The Ultimate HR Resource

Nick Reddin: I've worked with so many HR companies or HR folks over the past 20 some years, and I just spoke at Disrupt HR a couple of weeks ago. This is what I hear. I've never heard anything different than they are absolutely always stretched super thin. They're always having to take work home. It's just always how it seems to be because the business demands are always there and they've never been able to fill all their positions. They've got all these challenges that they're trying to meet and they're doing it with what they say is limited staff. They are very welcoming to RPA as well. That's one of the things I've really seen. Again, after I spoke at Disrupt HR, the amount of people that wanted to hear more about RPA was good and interesting. It gives me just a lot more anecdotal information about how RPA is going to be playing in the future of work. 

This is not the first time the business world has evolved. We talked about those previous technical disruptions. This is an opportunity for human resources to become employee experience architects, so they can reclaim their team's time to focus on employee experience by automating the operational tasks that are weighing them down. When you look at some of these tasks that are here, they aren't going away, especially when it relates to employee engagement and talent optimization. Those are huge things. Even workforce re-skilling as technology changes the way companies do their work, that means that the employees have to be re-skilled because what we don't have the luxury for in most markets is firing a workforce to hire a new, more skilled workforce because they can't even hire who they need right now. 

Unemployment is so low. Then we don't have enough workers coming into the workforce. There's a lot of forces that companies are having to navigate with filling their talent pipelines. Talent optimization, workforce re-skilling, and retention is going to only increase in its importance. The more tasks that they can take off their plate to focus on those things will show that HR can really add more value long-term. When we look at adopting it's about efficiency, effectiveness, but it's also really about accelerating human achievement. It's driving that digital employee transformation, focusing on the culture, cross- functional alignment, and individual effectiveness. Nobody wants to go to work and just sit there staring at a screen doing the same thing over and over again for 8 hours a day and then go home and come back and do it all again for 5, 10, 15 years. The goal here is to help people do things that are more interesting to them that require more thought process, more knowledge work than just rote, showing up, doing the same function every day and then going home and then coming back and doing it all over again. 

HR Use Cases for RPA

Nick Reddin: Let's talk about some use cases. What is preventing an HR team from transforming? They've got all these things, all these responses, and when you look across the scope of what takes place within the HR department, such as managing human intensive request processes for payroll benefits and compensation. Too much time answering frequent questions about the same subjects and working on repetitive HR activities bogged down by common requests and questions, status updates, compliance activities. Too focused on managing schedules, tracking attendance, and ensuring compliance of training mandates. These are all the things that bog them down on a daily basis and these are the things that in a proper environment can go away. It allows them to have what I would call an agile HR operation where they're now able to spend less time sourcing and assessing candidates and more time meaning qualified candidates and attending talent scouting or recruiting events. 

I'm going to show a demo in a minute that's going to walk through what that looks like or for the benefits professionals allows them to focus more on wellbeing initiatives rather than on health and wellness program administration. Then again for the employee relations folks, focus on developing programs that prevent issues from happening rather than investigating cases after incidents have occurred. Then with the business partners participating in business unit unique initiatives, they never would have had the luxury to attend before and then allow the learning and development people to focus on re-skilling. The current and future workforce is for that digitally transforming enterprise. Every company really struggles with career pathing. They all say they want to do it, they all put out some effort. Very few are really good at following through with it. If you're able to have an agile HR operation, you're able to actually get there and create real workflows and real work paths and career paths for people to be able to follow based on things that they're able to achieve and milestones that are set within the company. That's something that I think is really exciting for employees and for companies as well. It's something they want to talk about. Again, as unemployment is so low, having actual ways for people to move up and through and across an organization is becoming more and more important. 

Then we look at what that ultimately looks like from a robotic perspective with UiPath and with having an agile operation. Robots provide the unbiased scoring of candidates, automate new hire paperwork and onboarding activities. Then you can see all the different ways that the robots are able to work. Employee relations, that's a huge one that we've implemented numerous times where the chat bot is able to sit on Slack, Business Skype or a multitude of different platforms that the company may have, or even just as a character on a desktop. It's able to answer just about every question that anybody can ask that they would normally email HR about. The bot can automatically respond to everything from how much PTO do I currently have, what is our company's current holiday schedule, to how much am I contributing to my 401k? Being able to change that percentage that they're contributing if they want to through the chat bot. So it can be really robust, it can be really complex, or it can be really simple. It just depends on what the company wants. 

When you look at the questions that typically get asked over and over, they get asked the same 75 to 80 questions typically from new employees over the course of the first 3 weeks. And the bots are able to respond to those questions as well as the chatbots. So even if they email in a question, they're going to get a response from the bot first. And if the bot doesn't have a response for it, then it's going to cue an HR rep, and the HR rep will then respond to them. If the bot can't answer or shouldn't answer certain questions as it relates to health or medical care or benefits plan, then it pushes back to the user to say, "Hey, actually call so-and-so who is in the compensation or benefits department. And they'll be able to answer this question for you." So you also have to be careful not only what questions the bots can answer, but making sure they're not answering questions that could create a legal problem down the road or giving bad advice by building too big of a knowledge base or too many answers or having it give too much direction to people. 

When you look at the impact of the disjointed onboarding process, all the things that take place when you've got somebody who's sending out all of the welcome to the company, emails, all the things that go on from the interviews. That's in the past a little bit, but you've got all the things that are going on. It takes a tremendous amount of time, a tremendous amount of coordination. Even if you have some of the things already orchestrated, maybe through a ServiceNow or something like that, there's still a lot of process that can be automated and it has to be worked with. That can still be taken off of HR's plate. You see about 300+ hours of lost productivity ultimately, so when you have bots in play, that changes. 

That changes dramatically. If you were to reimagine what that onboarding experience looks like, the bot says, "Hey found 20 new employees in the spreadsheet. Begin onboarding." So you have a spreadsheet that's dedicated to the new hires and when they're all going to be starting on the same day. Then it tells you when the onboarding is complete and it sends the update email to the new employees. Yes, everything goes out. It creates an email that creates the account. It can request badges from facilities, it can set up all the relevant systems, it can email them their first day passwords. It can request laptops and other technical equipment or anything else that they're going to need. Everything is done for them automatically so that when they show up on that first day and there's a laptop waiting for them and they log into their laptop, everything has already been provisioned. The image for the desktop is already correct in their email waiting for them or all the passwords and logins and everything they're going to need for all their systems. They're basically ready to go to work and it's all been done automatically. 

Next I'm going to show a demo, and I'm going to show a process of being able to automate your job post on social media and job boards. What I wanted to do was kind of show something a little different than what we've typically shown companies, which a lot of times involves their ATS. I thought a little bit differently as a lot of companies are posting to social media in order to hire people. The most ubiquitous platform out there is HubSpot. So we thought we could do it from HubSpot and show people how a bot could effectively place job postings on LinkedIn and out on Facebook automatically and that would be something interesting. 

That's what we've put together here, so I'm going to run through that with you. What you're going to see in this video is there's the studio where the workflow has been designed. Then you're going to see it log into HubSpot, and then it's going to go to the social media section of HubSpot there. It's going to then select the latest posts from the social media section. That's Facebook in this case. Then of course we're going to do LinkedIn as well. Everything you see right now is the bot doing the work. It's going to select and pick the latest posts. Then it's going to copy the text and image from that post, which is what you see going on right now. 

It's then logging into Facebook and it's then going to post the job, the job description, the image in the relevant group based on job title. Then it can be multiple groups. For this example, I'm just showing one group just to show what that would look like, but it can be multiple groups. Depending on who you're hiring, there may be 50 groups out on Facebook that you want to make sure you post your job ads on a somewhat regular basis. And so this would be able to go do that. So now we see it doing the same thing with LinkedIn. It's logging in, it's going to post the job description and image in the right group based on the job title again. And then it's going to post it to that group. And again, even within LinkedIn, it's able to go through numerous groups in order to get that posting out there. 

So again, if you've got 50 some groups, 60 groups, whatever it is that you may have your recruiters currently posting to, that's how it does it. So what happens is you take those groups, you save them into the Excel file, and then the robot goes back to the Excel file to go and find that group and then post in that group. It just goes back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. It's a very simple process. Then you see the posting is out there for people. 

The next one I'm going to show is for metrics. Every recruiter has metrics. We're going to show what that looks like from data scraping metrics and then being able to send out an email to folks about those metrics. So the bot is now running and it's going to log into the email program, and then it's going to scrape the email stats from the email program into a data table. Then it's going to create an Excel file and it's going to paste that into the data table. And then it deletes the emails from the campaigns not related to recruiting so it gets the right numbers. Then it's going to log into our business intelligence platform, and then it's going to go to the existing daily email data source that is saved in there. It's going to update it with the new data from the Excel file. Then it's going to go do a daily email report that now shows the email stats, and it's going to save the email report as a PDF. It's then going to go out and resend it through email to the intended recipient, so it can pull from multiple systems if need be. So in this example, I'm just showing it pulling from the one system, but it could pull from 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 systems. 

Create a single pane of glass report if that's what you need in order to see recruiting from LinkedIn, in order to see recruiting from Facebook, in order to see recruiting from your ATS, in order to see recruiting from any other tools that you may use. You'll see the email shows up. There's the email with the report, you click the report, and then you're able to see it. Then you'd have that in a single pane of glass and then that would go out to whoever in the organization needs to see that report. So those are just some really simple demos, but I think they're pretty powerful in showing what bots can do. Again, these demos can be expanded to multiple, systems inside any environment with any platform, any tool that needs to see these reporting or need to be pulled from. 

Thank you for attending. If you have any questions please feel free to submit those. So Kelsey, how are we doing? 

Kelsey Meyer: Good. So do submit questions. We do have a couple, but not very many. We have about seven minutes, so that's a good amount of time to go through some of this. While we're waiting for some more questions to file in, I do want everyone to know that on a monthly basis, on the second Thursday, we do an open Q&A forum for ATC where we invite people to come and join us for a half an hour. We are just open to any questions that you have, whether it's RPA related, whether you want to learn about SAFe training or some of the other items that we've touched on today. This month we are going to be sharing some more demos, similar to what we talked about today. I just thought that this would be a good place to go ahead and extend that invitation while we wait for some questions to come in. Let me take a look at the questions that we have. This one came in, how do we know that the robot won't make a mistake? Is it going to be more work for me to monitor my robot or does a human get a job monitoring the robot? 

Nick Reddin: That's a good question. Really, it is within the workflow. When you first do the workflow and you do the design, one of the things we do is process mining. So we watched to see what exactly is the process that's taking place and then we do almost a Six Sigma kind of a function to streamline that process to make it as efficient and linear as humanly possible. Once that's done, we make sure that it works and it's doing what we want it to do. We run it for 24 to 48 hours and make sure it's doing everything that we need. Once it's done it really isn't able to change course. 

Now the only thing that's going to throw off the bot or throw off your systems internally is if there's a process change and if that process changes before the bot is updated. Other than that, the bot isn't going to make any mistakes, it's going to continue to do the same work in the same way. If there is an exception it will put that exception in a queue, and there will be a user assigned to that queue. Whoever that user is would then look at that. What that typically means is there's some kind of information missing. For example, if it's taking emails that are coming in and all those emails are supposed to have some kind of an account number. If for some reason one of the emails comes in without an account number and the bots not able to use it, it's going to put that email in the queue for the person to work through it. But the bot is still going to continue to work. The bots do not typically need to be babysat at all. They run without issue. 

Will a Robot Take my Job?

Kelsey Meyer: So the next one is kind of funny. I had to laugh when I saw this. Why would I tell my boss to automate my job? What benefit do I see? Won't I risk getting replaced and fired? 

Nick Reddin: That is a common thought that's out there. I haven't seen that yet. Most of what I have seen is where they're only being able to take over a part of somebody's job, and then they're able to add more functions to them or more interesting work to them is typically what we see. I haven't seen anybody honestly being replaced. I've seen them, if anything, being upskilled more than anything else. I'll be honest. In today's atmosphere with technology, with the need of having to get work done and companies need for efficiency and scale, technology always wins. It's just a matter of time. So what I would do is embrace it. Again, companies that have been really good preparing their culture for it have really overcome the fear of, "Hey, this is going to replace my job. Hey, this is going to take my job away. It's really taking that away, and what people have seen is more interesting. There's a lot of videos and things I have in commentary from people that I didn't include today just because of the length of them. It's really interesting to hear people's take on it once it's implemented and kind of the before and after of what they thought it was going to be like. They thought they were going to end up losing their job just a few weeks later. That's exactly what didn't happen. A lot of people named their bots because they like them and they loved the work that they're doing for them, so that typically just hasn't been something that I've seen. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but it's not something that I've seen. 

Kelsey Meyer: I know from previous conversations that HR is a particularly interesting opportunity to grow your career. When you spoke at Disrupt HR, you talked a little bit about the new responsibilities that an HR individual could have in the realm of compliance and that kind of thing. Would you share a little bit with our audience today about that? 

Nick Reddin: Sure. With everything that's coming into the companies today, especially around AI, aka artificial intelligence and machine learning, there is a lack of understanding around the ethics and everything that's behind it and how that's really going to play within an environment. So especially as it relates to employee selection, employee performance reviews, there's a lot of tools that are first to market and they're really cool seemingly, but they also have a lot of bias built into them just because of the historical data that was being used is old. What that basically means is you're just going to repeat the past over and over again, which also includes those past preferences, those past biases, all of that. So HR is having to kind of wear a new hat as an ethics officer that needs to vet and validate the platforms that anybody else wants to bring into the organization that has an AI or an ML component to it simply because it could put the organization at risk when you have people being excluded or disqualified based on being a man or a woman, based on, various factors that shouldn't even be looked at or considered. That puts a company at risk and it's HR's job to protect the company. That's a large part of what they have to do. So as technology changes and that ebbs and flows, HR is going to have to pick up some new responsibilities and some new skills in order to be able to vet these platforms. 

Kelsey Meyer: I think that's really interesting. That was all the questions that I had. I'm glad we got a chance to touch on that for HR specifically because I know we have some HR folks in the crowd today. Was there anything you wanted to share with the group now as we wrap up? 

Nick Reddin: No, I appreciate it. If you are interested in RPA, please reach out to us. We'd love to help you, love to talk to you more about it and your particular domain and how it could be useful for you. 

Next Steps?

Does this still seem hard to believe? We understand skepticism. Actually, we invite it so when we prove how RPA can accelerate your digital transformation you’re blown away. Ready to be impressed? Contact Nick today for more information or reach out to ATC here.

Be sure to check out our webinars each month for timely technological topics.

Upcoming Webinars Include:

January 9: The Best of AWS Re:Invent

More from our blog

A Complete Breakdown of CI/CD: Differences, Benefits, and Tools

Kelsey Meyer

July 12, 2019 | 7 min read
When Software Glitches Kill

Kelsey Meyer

June 28, 2019 | 3 min read

Let's talk about your project.

Contact Us