Beyond the buzz
By Lance Hattendorf
Harpyja Business Change Executive
As discussed in my previous blog post, A Case for Strategic Automation, whether developing as a part of a dedicated change programme or incorporating during a digital transformation, every modern company needs to have an Enterprise Automation Strategy. The main premise is that either through the addition to the Enterprise Architecture via in-built workflows in applications, or through purpose-built digital transformations, Automation will be a factor in the modern Enterprise and as such, each organisation should be prepared to make decision which will ultimately affect their people.
Digital automation seeks to give individuals who have authorization to do specific tasks the ability to make those tasks more efficient without the barrier of highly specialised technological skills by finding ways to use technology to release people from repetitive work which will no longer represent organisational value and enabling them to focus on high value activities. This can be seen for some organisation as essential to growth and a basis for strategic objectives. In this post I would like to lay out common automation terms and definitions. This is not intended to be an automation compendium but should include the most common terms to be understood on the way toward developing an automation strategy.
Automation Terminology Definitions
● Artificial Intelligence (AI)
○ Artificial Intelligence (AI) is intelligence demonstrated by machines and is often used to describe machines (or computers) that mimic cognitive functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as learning and problem solving.
○ Automation is a general term to describe the technology by which a process or procedure is performed with minimal human assistance.
● Business Process Management (BPM)
○ Business Process Management (BPM) is a discipline in which resources use various methods to discover, model, analyse, measure, improve, optimize, and automate business processes. BPM is aligned with an organisation’s operations management and sees processes as important assets of an organization that must be understood, managed, and developed to announce and deliver value-added products and services to clients or customers.
○ BPM is a strategic approach that concentrates on reshaping an organization’s existing business processes to achieve optimal efficiency and productivity.
● Centre of Excellence (CoE)
○ A Centre of Excellence (CoE) is a team, a shared facility or an entity that provides leadership, best practices, research, support and/or training for a focus area.
○ The RPA Centre of Excellence (CoE) is a GDS initiative to develop a source of Automation knowledge to drive RPA within the Enterprise and bring best practices to automation implementation. There are various models for CoEs ranging from a centralized delivery model, to a model where the CoE empowers other business units to build their own CoEs within a framework set out by a central CoE, or totally independent from each other:
■ Centralised Centre of Excellence (CoE)
● One RPA CoE serving all Business Units.
● One main RPA CoE linked to several smaller RPA CoEs dedicated to business units.
● Independent RPA CoEs “embedded” within each business unit.
● Cognitive Automation
○ The term Cognitive Automation is a general definition that refers to new hardware and/or software to mimic the functioning of the human brain with the goal of developing more accurate models of how the human brain/mind senses, reasons, and responds to stimulus. Cognitive Automation is based on software bringing intelligence to information-intensive processes. It is commonly associated with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as the conjunction between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cognitive Computing (CC).
● Cognitive Computing (CC)
○ Cognitive Computing (CC) describes technology platforms that are based on the scientific disciplines of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Signal Processing.
● Cultural Adoption
○ Cultural Adoption of RPA ensures strong and operationally efficient robotics operating models or enterprise automation strategies, engagement of active executive-level RPA sponsors using dedicated change management teams.
● Digital Process Automation (DPA)
○ Digital Process Automation (DPA) is an evolution of Business Process Management (BPM) to include the use of digital technology to perform a process or processes in order to accomplish a workflow or function. It describes the automation of an organisation’s procedures and processes using software.
● In-house Capability
○ By developing Automation In-house Capability, RPA aims to evolve, leverage scale and increase business value and define RPA as a strategic capability.
● Intelligent Process Automation (IPA)
○ Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) refers to the application of Artificial Intelligence and related new technologies, such as Machine Learning and Cognitive Automation, to Robotic Process Automation.
● IT Engagement
○ Through IT Engagement, the RPA Organisation will ensure requirements for security, scalability, auditability, business recovery and change management are properly met and will on-board IT function early-on to convey strong governance.
● Machine Learning (ML)
○ Machine Learning (ML) is the scientific study of algorithms and statistical models that computer systems use to perform a specific task without using explicit instructions, relying on patterns and inference instead. ML is an application of Artificial Intelligence that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. Machine Learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can access data and use it to learn for themselves.
○ A Pilot involves the implementation of a project on a small, controlled scale to allow for its full impact, benefits and weaknesses to be evaluated before implementation on a larger basis. Pilots are designed to test some limited set of functions usually specific to a business or business area.
● Process Mining
○ A group of techniques in the field of Business Process Management that support the analysis of business processes based on event logs or other structured data.
● Proof of Concept (PoC)
○ Proof of Concept is a realization of a certain method or idea in order to demonstrate its feasibility, or a demonstration in principle with the aim of verifying that some concept or theory has practical potential.
○ Robot (RPA bot or bot) executes the processes built in a studio, as a human would. Robots can work in both “attended” and “unattended” modes:
■ Attended RPA bots can work alongside humans to deliver attended automation. The actions of RPA bots can still be triggered by system-level events that can give and take data to and from human workers. Attended RPA bots are useful when the entire end-to-end process can’t be automated.
■ Unattended RPA bots execute tasks and interact with applications independent of human involvement. Unattended bots can be triggered by events and they can be scheduled.
● Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
○ Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a form of business process automation technology based on metaphorical software robots (bots), artificial intelligence (AI) workers or intelligent agents.
○ RPA aims to replace repetitive tasks performed by humans leaving humans to make judgmental calls, handle exceptions and provide oversight. RPA uses automation to run application software in the exact same way that a person works with that software.
● RPA Implementation Scenarios
■ The organisation purchases a license for the RPA tool.
■ The RPA provider operates as technical support (optionally).
■ The implementation is led by the organisation.
■ The client involves a consultancy partner to be able to deliver a seamless RPA Implementation.
■ The organizational transition and KT is ensured by the service provider.
○ RPA As A Service (RAAS)
■ The client buys the RPA solution as a service.
■ The service provider takes responsibility of the entire implementation.
■ The client focuses only on the business value-add.
● RPA Platform
○ The RPA platform is the software package designed to give the human operator input and control over robotic process automation. The platform allows the human operator to:
■ Orchestrate automation in order to deploy, schedule, monitor and manage robots and processes.
■ The studio function is a tool that enables the human operator to design automation processes in a visual manner, through diagrams.
■ The RPA platform allows the human operator to monitor that the automated system is operating correctly, and take over control if it is not.
● RPA Project Team (Organisation)
○ RPA Solutions Architect
■ Defines the architecture of the automation solution and is a guardian of the overall performance of the agreed solution.
○ RPA Programme Manager
■ Forms the RPA team to build the setup and deliver the program across business units. Manages the RPA team and the business stakeholders to achieve the expected automation results.
○ RPA Developer
■ Designs, develops and tests the automation artefacts.
● Signal Processing
○ Signal processing is an electrical engineering subfield that focuses on analysing, modifying and synthesizing signals to improve transmission, storage efficiency and subjective quality and to also emphasize or detect components of interest in a measured signal.
○ Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is a subfield of signal processing and involves the use of digital processing, such as by computers or more specialized digital signal processors, to perform a wide variety of signal processing operations.
It would be interesting to hear from you about terminology that has been encountered in your digital transformation. Please get in touch!
Written by Lance Hattendorf
Business Change Executive