What is BPA?
BPA, or business process automation, can significantly improve an organization’s performance, cut costs, and more.
In this post, we’ll cover the basics of BPA, including:
- A definition of BPA
- The benefits and drawbacks of BPA
- When to use BPA and when not to
While BPA can generate significant ROI for an organization – and some even suggest automation will reshape the way businesses operate – it is first necessary to understand the fundamentals of this concept.
What Is BPA?
Business process automation (BPA) refers to the use of digital tools to perform tasks normally done by humans.
These tasks can range in complexity from simple data activities, such as data entry, to more complex tasks, such as decision-making and analysis.
As digital innovation continues to drive more and more change in today’s economy, digital tools are automating an increasing number of job duties. Artificial intelligence (AI), for instance, enables new levels of automation that weren’t possible just a few years ago.
There is a subtle distinction between the term BPA and automation – which is a more general term that refers to any type of automation, not just digital automation. Yet when examining BPA, it is useful to understand it in the context of automation, digital innovation, and digital transformation.
Should Your Organization Use BPA?
Here are just a few of the many reasons why organizations are adopting BPA solutions:
- Accuracy. BPA tools don’t make mistakes, while humans can and do.
- Efficiency and speed. Software can perform tasks many times faster than humans, at only a fraction the cost.
- Reliability. Automation can operate continuously, 24 hours a day, without getting tired.
- Business performance. The productivity boosts generated by BPA can create a competitive advantage for organizations that adopt early and innovate.
Despite these benefits, it is important to recognize that BPA does have drawbacks.
- AI cannot think. Automation platforms cannot perform certain types of cognitive tasks, such as those that require human judgment, so they must still be operated by humans.
- BPA tools are limited in scope. AI and automation tools can only perform narrow, repetitive tasks. While this can save time for certain types of job activities, it also means BPA solutions cannot be used for certain types of jobs or tasks.
- Customized automation tools can be costly. Certain types of automation tools, such as DAPs, are flexible and can be deployed easily. Others, such as customized enterprise-grade BPA solutions, require more time and money to set up.
This last point brings up an important point about automation tools: not all tools have the same scope or scale. Some focus on day-to-day workflows, others are designed to handle high-level business activities, and others fall somewhere in the middle.
Examples of BPA and Automation in the Workplace
Here are just a few of many examples of how BPA and automation tools are impacting the workplace:
- Chatbots are being used to automate customer service, technical support, and user interfaces
- Workflow automation platforms, such as digital adoption solutions, allow employees to automate repetitive job tasks
- Optical character recognition (OCR), along with other natural language processing capabilities, can automate job tasks that revolve around the reading and analysis of text
- AI is being used to automate financial services tasks, such as loan accreditation and fraud detection
- In the field of cybersecurity, AI and automation tools can perform tedious and time-intensive tasks such as anomaly detection
The list could go on and on – and in the years ahead, it will become even lengthier. In fact, according to many, automation will become a standard part of the work environment and it may very well change the shape of many workplaces.
How BPA and Automation Will Affect the Future of Work
Most experts agree that we are currently in the midst of a technological revolution. Like the industrial revolution, the current technological revolution will reshape the way we live, work, and do business. Automation tools, therefore, will have a significant impact on the future of work – and we are already seeing these trends emerge today.
Here are just a few examples:
- AI, BPA, and automation will create new jobs, while destroying old ones. Many research studies suggest that tomorrow’s job composition will differ significantly from today’s. Primarily, this will be due to technology-driven innovation. Automation will eliminate certain jobs, change others, and give rise to new ones. For example: retail, office support, and customer service jobs will decline, while jobs that require computer science skills will increase.
- Automation’s impact will grow as technology-driven change accelerates. Not only will BPA absorb more business tasks, BPA and AI-powered digital automation will continue to expand its influence into the physical realm. According to major research firms such as PwC, among others, when robotics becomes more common, AI and BPA will enable the use of autonomous robots within business.
- Automation is contributing to a skills gap in the workplace. While automation is not the sole cause of today’s workplace skills gap, it is a contributing factor. To keep up and stay relevant, many have realized the need to upgrade their skills in order to stay relevant in their jobs – or to find new ones.
BPA, AI, and automation will all have a very substantial impact on not only the business world, but on customer experiences, products and services, and even the quality of life for people around the globe.