Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been on top of our customer’s mind when it comes to enterprise transformation to run businesses in an increasingly digital world, and SAP is providing a unique approach of combiningAI and automation skillsto help customers accelerate their digital journey. This will be a first in a series of blogs looking at this topic in the run up to SAP TechEd 2018.
Without modifying the underlying system, classic way of automation typically starts by looking at repetitive, manual steps that are done by humans on a daily basis; and maps those tasks with rules by programs. These programs (or so called “digital workers”) can further replace human workers by mimicking what they do on a computer screen, hence allowing them to play more value driven roles. Example of RPA tasks areextracting data from invoice, entering a purchase order, downloading reports from various systems and inputting data into an SAP backend.
Adding Intelligence to Automation
As new technologies evolve in the area of machine learning (ML) and natural language intelligence (NLI), and with data processing at a scale we have never seen before, our solution is moving beyond automation of just routine tasks.
In fact, many use cases around business and process automation center around data collection, processing, consolidation, analytics and predictions. Consider a typical sales order process, where most of the order requests come in various formats, such as email, PDF, EDI or fax. The content of the data is often inconsistent with company standard, hence ordering parameters need to be referenced, correlated before they can be submitted to a backend system. Human clerks thus spend a huge amount of time on data entry and error handling; and this is just a beginning of an end-to-end order to cash process.
As ML and NLI work with data, the opportunity to combine machine learning algorithm with an RPA platform to address the above use case is obvious. At SAP, we offer a set of ML Services to add intelligence to the “digital workers”, thus enabling them to learn from data inputs, draw inferences from historic experience, and make initial decisions. Over time, the “digital workers” will become more cognitive to understand business intend and deliver results.
Equip Digital Workers with Pre-defined Skills
For automation within SAP system, such as S/4HANA and S/4HANA Cloud, we can accelerate and simplify customer’s RPA implementation with SAP Best Practice of pre-defined automation scenarios, which are called “skills”. For example, one does not need to program a “digital worker” and teach him how to post a purchase order or an invoice to SAP. By leveraging the SAP ML services and automation “skills” out of the box from S/4HANA, customers or partners can build complex automation workflows quickly. Furthermore, these “skills” are developed and maintained by SAP, based on underlying integration APIs and metadata properties, ensuring their stability during system upgrades as customers move from on-premises systems to the cloud.
We are excited to bring a new intelligent process automation platform to the customer, in the next blog I will talk about how to scale the digital workers in the cloud.
We want to hear from you – comment, ask questions and join the discussion in the coming weeks.
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