RPA Bots: Understanding The Chatbot and RPA Integration

“As AI becomes more common, applications that employ it must work effectively with others employing similar technologies, which will result in chains and meshes of AI systems that work simultaneously toward their individual goals in a cooperative but decoupled fashion” 

Gartner

If you’re following the latest trends in the enterprise AI ecosystem you’re probably aware that chatbots and RPA are two of the most popular and widely adopted AI  technologies today. In the 2019 Gartner CIO Survey, CIOs identified chatbots as the main AI-based application used in their enterprises. But have you ever wondered about the possibility of integrating these two powerful technologies together to build an even advanced technological powerhouse? 

We’ll explore this thought further in this article and discuss how this super-interesting combination of AI technologies can solve some major challenges for enterprises.

While there are several trends impacting the chatbot ecosystem, an extremely important and interesting trend is the integration of a chatbot with Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Enterprise chatbots already solve many challenges pertaining to customer service, employee self-service, and scalability that organizations are facing today. Now, by combining the power of automation from RPA and cognitive intelligence from chatbots the entire experience can be taken to the next level, improving productivity and business advantage. This can happen when chatbots are integrated with RPA to provide an intelligent, automated and end-to-end customer and employee experience.

As chatbots are increasingly being used to perform a range of tasks across various functions, they will need back office RPA robots that are capable of quickly finding information and performing transactions on behalf of users.

Before learning more about chatbot and RPA integration, let’s have a quick overview of RPA.

RPA and its growing importance

So how does RPA work? RPA is the use of AI software and machine learning capabilities to perform diverse, repeatable tasks such as handling queries, record transactions, entering data, perform calculations etc. that were so far being manually performed by humans. RPA is currently being used to streamline and automate back-office operations in HR, Finance, accounting, etc. 

According to Gartner, Robotic process automation (RPA) software revenue grew 63.1% in 2018 to $846 million, making it the fastest-growing segment of the global enterprise software market. By the end of 2019, it is expected to reach $1.3 billion. RPA is being adopted so widely today that Gartner estimates RPA software spending to total $2.4 billion in 2022.

Implementing RPA software does not require changing the existing infrastructure and systems. RPA software sits on top of your existing IT infrastructure – as a layer, as opposed to being a part of it.

Hence, RPA technology can quickly be integrated with the existing infrastructure and systems.

But what makes RPA different from a traditional IT automation system?

Unlike traditional IT automation, RPA technology is capable of adapting to changing circumstances and new situations. Once trained to understand the actions of specific processes in the required applications, RPA software can then manipulate data, trigger responses, initiate new actions and communicate with other systems autonomously.

Chatbots Integration With RPA

Chatbots (front office bots) converse with customers or employees to send information, complete tasks or capture their requests. Based on the use case, a bot needs to integrate with and access information from different enterprise systems. These systems can be around help desk, intranet, CRM, Business Intelligence, LOB, HR knowledge bases and so on. 

If these systems have modern APIs, then the chatbot can access the required information independently and without any issue. However, if the systems lack modern APIs, the chatbot may not be able to integrate and retrieve information. 

This is where RPA comes into play. Integration of RPA helps chatbots effectively navigate through legacy enterprise systems that do not have modern APIs. 

The RPA-chatbot integration is a powerful combination and serious game-changer for two reasons

  1.  An RPA powered chatbot can integrate with disparate and multiple back-end enterprise systems. RPA enables chatbots to retrieve information from these systems and handle more complex and real-time customer/employee requests and queries at scale.
  2. In the same way, chatbots, upon a user’s request, can trigger RPA to perform specific mundane tasks without routing them to a human agent.

The combination of chatbots and RPA can solve several common problems enterprises are facing today. It helps organizations to meet the rising customer expectations at lower costs by combining the automation capabilities of RPA and the self-service features of a chatbot.  This also results in increased agent productivity as agents don’t have to spend time on mundane and routine activities like gathering customer data, copying information, completing paperwork, etc. 

In addition, with RPA, bots can become more proactive and take the personalization of customer experience to the next level. By leveraging machine learning, RPA bots can harness and analyze large volumes of customer data and send meaningful, contextual and individualized up-sell and cross-sell offers to customers. 

BUSINESS BENEFITS

Some key benefits of RPA bots include

  • Improved employee and customer experience
  • Reduce business costs
  • Reduced time to complete tasks
  • Increased employee productivity
  • Increased competitive advantage

The Road Ahead

Both RPA and bot technologies are still evolving.  As the technology of RPA bots matures further, organizations can create intelligent conversational experiences for customers and employees, reduce business costs and increase the productivity of agents. RPA and chatbots complement each others’ functionality. Chatbots need the power of RPA to complete complex tasks and support meaningful conversations and RPA needs the conversational interface of chatbots to take automation to the next level – self-service automation.

Acuvate helps enterprises with a range of RPA and chatbot solutions and services. If you’re interested to explore this topic further and want to discuss the possibility of deploying RPA bots for your organization, please feel free to get in touch with one of our RPA and chatbot consultants.

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