Dell Launches Robotics Process Automation Initiative

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    IT over the years has been credited with automating any number of business processes, but it may very well be that the world “ain’t seen nothing yet.” Dell today unveiled its robotic process automation offering that promises to automate much of the drudgery associated with the processing of forms and other types of paperwork throughout the enterprise.

    Tanvir Khan, vice president and global head for Dell Business Process Outsourcing, says the majority of the tasks associated with managing documents involves people applying rules to make some basic decision about the next step in the process. The Automated Full Time Equivalent (AFTE) and AFTE Command Center make use of machine-learning algorithms to automatically make that decision based on the content in the form.

    The productivity benefits of a robotic approach to processing documents are obviously profound. But so, too, are the social implications. Many of the tasks that office workers now handle manually would disappear. The amount of work each office worker can process would clearly increase, but many organizations would conclude they will need fewer office workers or perhaps none at all.

    On the plus side, Khan says robotics process automation will give workers the time needed to provide a superior customer experience. Instead of spending all their time on routine processes, Khan says AFTE and the AFTE Command Center will give workers more time to handle complex processes that tend to have more exceptions than actual rules.

    In the meantime, Dell says the next generation of AFTE software will make use of cognitive intelligence and predictive analytics to enable the development of self-service functions that learn how to optimize a process even further.

    While the economic impact of robotic process automation remains to be seen, Khan says that Dell doesn’t recommend using robotics process automation to replace workers just yet. Employees tend to embrace robotics process automation, notes Khan, when it is viewed as making their job a better experience rather than replacing them altogether. That approach, adds Khan, provides the added benefit of letting the organization over time determine exactly where in the future the relationship between machines and humans beings needs to begin and end.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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