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It’s no flying car, but robotic process automation (RPA) is exciting in its own right

Earlier this month, we at Ventiv introduced our brand-new robotic process automation (RPA) solution. RPA is an exciting new approach to automating manual processes and integrating disparate applications and systems. Although still emerging, RPA is a proven technology already in wide use across sectors and industries. 

The 20-second summary:
  • RPA (robotic process automation) is an exciting new way to automate manual processes by integrating disparate applications and systems.
  • But wait, why are we still talking about automation? Haven't we been promised that for a long time?
  • The reality is, applications and systems usually still need programming before they can interact. RPA leapfrogs this challenge—cost-effectively and with strong return on investment. 

As a new technology, RPA in general is legitimately exciting and is already known for delivering strong return on investment—indeed, ROI is one of RPA’s biggest selling points. But it does beg the question: “In this golden age of technology, why are we still talking about automating manual processes?” To paraphrase Peter Thiel, we were promised flying cars, and instead we’re getting…bots? I prefer to call them “digital workers,” but the point remains.

It’s true: Despite advances in technology and business process management, tedious manual processes are still a fact of life in the risk and insurance world. The typical claim organization and risk management group still devote a great deal of staff resources to gathering external data, pointing-and-clicking, typing, double entry of information, values checking, and other repetitive actions that require people to “swivel” from one application to another. 

Why is this the case? 

The answer starts with the fact that most corporate teams (including claims and risk and insurance management) use or interface with numerous different systems and applications. Now consider that a typical business process could involve many of those systems or applications. If we’re talking about a legacy system, however, it might not have the application programming interfaces (APIs) necessary to integrate with a business process management system. And even if a system or application (legacy or otherwise) has the necessary APIs, the cost of programming against the APIs for automation might be too high, or the time to market might be too long. 

Promises of flying cars (or fully automated, paperless offices) to the contrary, organizations still operate in a multi-system, multi-application environment. Technology evangelists may be guilty of pushing the notion of full, seamless system integration; the reality, however, is more mundane: we’re just not quite there yet. 


But now the good news! RPA is truly an elegant, cost-effective solution to the challenges of integrating systems or applications with each other (with the result being cost-effective process automation). In most cases, RPA can interact with systems and applications just like a human worker does, without the need for programming. 

To set up RPA processes, there’s no programming or sophisticated system interfaces required. Instead, we study the process from the perspective of the end user and then deploy bots (or digital workers, if you prefer) to mimic the actions of a person. Ventiv RPA automates processes like claims assignment, claims-severity coding, and certificate management. 

RPA frees staff to perform tasks that require uniquely human strengths, like providing attentive customer service and processing complex claims. And because RPA automates tedious, repetitive tasks—the ones that people least like to perform—staff members usually see their job satisfaction increase. 

Ventiv clients can automate virtually any process with RPA, especially risk management system and claims management system related processes. Part of the beauty of Ventiv RPA is that clients can choose relatively small-scale processes to automate and still see strong return on investment. As clients add more bots, automate more processes, and integrate more applications and systems that were once disparate, the value of Ventiv RPA multiplies. 

So, we might not be at the flying-car stage yet, but I’m excited by what Ventiv RPA will do for our clients. Automating processes, integrating systems, and relieving staff of the tasks they least like to perform is a great value proposition. As we’ve been showing Ventiv RPA, we’ve been getting a great reception because, once people see it in action, the potential in RPA speaks for itself. 

Ventiv Technology CIO Peter YangPeter Yang is Ventiv Technology’s Chief Information Officer. Contact Peter at peter.yang@ventivtech.com

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Apr 17, 2018

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