Business processes are the series of activities that companies put in place to create a product or to benefit another internal workflow. Business processes can cut across various departments and often impact customer satisfaction. Workflows are visual diagrams that help automate these processes by increasing ease of use, speed of production, and consistency.
Here you might ask, Just who is augmenting whom (or what) in this situation? It’s a good moment to emphasize that in an augmentation environment, support is mutual. The human ensures that the computer is doing a good job and makes it better. This is the point being made by all those people who encourage more STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. They envision a work world largely made up of stepping-in positions. But if this is your strategy, you’ll also need to develop your powers of observation, translation, and human connection.
During my three years at Socialtext, I helped maintain a test tooling system through a user interface that was advanced for its time. O'Reilly took it as a case study in the book Beautiful Testing. The team at Socialtext uses the same framework today, although it now has several tests running at one time on Amazon's Electric Compute Cloud. Although we had a great deal of GUI-driving tests, we also had developer-facing (unit) and web services (integration) tests, a visual slideshow that testers could watch for every browser, and a strategy to explore by hand for each release. This combination of methods to reduce risk meant we found problems early.
“Many companies are also using zonal OCR and barcode scanning to automate document filing. Zonal OCR lets the user set a predefined area from which information is automatically captured, indexed, and added to a specific database. Many companies employ Zonal OCR on their purchase orders so that scanning the document will transfer the invoice number and shipping and billing information directly to a database. Adding barcode recognition to a document automates the filing process by telling the computer where and how to file a document and its content. These capabilities help these large, established companies compete today.”
COOs working for financial services firms were at the vanguard of RPA adoption, figuring out ways to use software to facilitate business processes without increasing headcount or costs, says Regina Viadro, vice president at EPAM Systems and adviser of the company’s IA practice. Viadro has worked on RPA engagements for clients in financial services, healthcare, retail and human resources, showing the breadth of RPA use today.
When digital computers became available, being general-purpose programmable devices, they were soon applied to control sequential and combinatorial logic in industrial processes. However these early computers required specialist programmers and stringent operating environmental control for temperature, cleanliness, and power quality. To meet these challenges this the PLC was developed with several key attributes. It would tolerate the shop-floor environment, it would support discrete (bit-form) input and output in an easily extensible manner, it would not require years of training to use, and it would permit its operation to be monitored. Since many industrial processes have timescales easily addressed by millisecond response times, modern (fast, small, reliable) electronics greatly facilitate building reliable controllers, and performance could be traded off for reliability.
The truth is, business will become less and less reliant on humans to do mundane, repetitive tasks. Automation will take over and we will be able to use our minds and our creatively ability to make a difference in business and ultimately the world. We will be able to create more, innovate more, and achieve more when we have more time to focus on other things. I can’t wait to see how the creatives, composers, and coaches thrive in the future. Rather than titles, it will be these categories that best setup individuals for long term success. Begging the question, what category do you think you will fall under?
Business process automation (BPA) is defined as the automation of complex business processes and functions beyond conventional data manipulation and record-keeping activities, usually through the use of advanced technologies. It focuses on “run the business” as opposed to “count the business” types of automation efforts and often deals with event-driven, mission-critical, core processes. BPA usually supports an enterprise’s knowledge workers in satisfying the needs of its many constituencies.