Cognitive robots at work: Impacts of RPA and cognitive technologies

The fourth industrial revolution

Robotic process automation or RPA, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are opening up opportunities for cost savings, reducing errors, increasing scalability, and sharpening compliance. The cloud can help you take advantage by virtualizing resources, connecting discrete systems, and crunching big data at incredible speed. In theory, this combination can help free your business from repetitive tasks and empower your people to be more innovative and strategic. But to harness this exponential opportunity, organizations may need to rethink business cases and operating models wherever people and technology intersect.

Our perspective

The impact of bots and cognitive technologies

Modern analytics can yield actionable insight into what has already happened, what is happening now, and what is likely to happen next. But that's just the beginning of what's possible. Robotics spans a spectrum from the routine process automation of repeatable tasks to cognitive technologies where machine learning can develop voice and data recognition capabilities that learn and improve as they recognize new patterns that get coded into new rules. Today's voice-activated assistants may tomorrow be extracting and structuring information requiring perception and judgment.

Where bots work best

For all of its potential, it's still essential to focus efforts where cognitive technologies can work best. Bots do tend to do these things well: Gather, collate, and validate data; synthesize and analyze data; record and transport data; calculate a value and decide what to do next; communicate with and assist people; orchestrate and manage activities; monitor, detect, and/or report on performance; and learn, anticipate, and forecast behaviors or outcomes. The more bots can do for you in these areas, the more time you can free up for your people to perform higher value investigative, innovative, and due diligence tasks. But is your organization ready for this way of working?

How to organize for success

RPA has potentially exponential benefits. Harnessing those benefits demands new operating and talent models, new business cases, and a firm hand guiding transformation efforts. Routine rules-based tasks can be encoded; algorithms can be built to perform most effectively. Cognitive robots can provide a machine intelligent extension that complements the human capabilities of your organization. So while automation can bring big dividends, be careful not to underestimate the organizational transformation imperatives required to put it on a solid foundation.

How to get there?

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Unveiling what's next

With ever-growing troves of data still unexplored, and with the cloud tools powering new ways to find, assess, and act on that data in the moment, the allure of big data, analytics, and IoT is anything but misplaced. At the same time, it's important to stay grounded in specific business challenges, questions, and opportunities. Focus on establishing bounded scope and measurable, attributable value—without wandering into risk, compliance, and security minefields.

Every enterprise needs to map out how to blend business strategy with technology opportunity: innovate, or face inevitable disruption. What’s the reward on the horizon for those who succeed? The more you can move to the cloud securely and compliantly, the faster your speed to market, the greater your control of scalability and costs. And the more you can reduce time spent on configuring and increase time spent on innovative new releases and enhanced customer experience.

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