A recent research report we ran highlighted that manual document processing can take up to 48% of a customer service representative’s day, on average. This costly and time-intensive process not only creates costs and hinders cash flow, but detracts from customer service. In fact, it may be the reason you lose up to 82% of existing revenue.
While many manufacturers view a fully digital supply chain as a pipe dream, starting the journey to automation by implementing technologies to streamline manual processes can be an effective first step.
In the past, companies have often turned to Robotic Process Automation (RPA), but post 2020—the year of the pandemic—it is becoming abundantly clear that RPA alone can’t solve this problem. However, RPA and AI working together can.
Simple Appeal of RPA
More than 85% of major enterprises around the world leverage RPA in some way, and the industry is expected to grow from $250 million in 2016 to $2.9 billion in 2021, according to Forrester. With this trend, it’s no surprise that many businesses assume RPA translates well to sales order processing.
If so much money is being spent on RPA, and it’s a type of automation, it must be a smart choice, right? Things aren’t that simple.
RPA is effective for simple business processes involving straightforward, linear logic. As you add complexity, however, the disadvantages of RPA come into focus, and what’s more complex than processing unique and varied purchase orders?
Disadvantages of RPA
Gartner reports that 50% of RPA software implementations will fail to deliver a sustainable ROI this year. Why? Primarily because enterprises try to bring RPA to bear on processes for which RPA isn’t suited, or where the situation is just too complex for “robotic” automation to handle.
- RPA customisation is restricted. While RPA can automate repetitive, fixed tasks with inputs or data formats that stay consistent, RPA doesn’t play well with unexpected or frequent changes in its code integration. (This is why McKinsey senior partners have seen several robotics programs badly delayed.)
- RPA bots can’t keep up with changes. New business rules are constantly applied when processing sales orders, and this involves many updates and changes of complex business rules.
- Troubleshooting can be tedious. With the problems that come with reconfiguring RPA bots, companies are forced to allocate staff to protect purchase order fulfilments. Teams end up servicing bots so frequently that they could have manually processed the task themselves… quicker.
- RPA requires 24/7 maintenance for order management as bots continue to fail. This may result in more technical debt, as companies struggle to assign resources outside of standard business hours.
- RPA typically uses OCR technology to process purchase orders, which fails to delivery 100% data accuracy.
More Intelligent Automation: ML and AI
When you’re researching sales order automation, it’s important to be aware that not all technology is equal. While RPA is a broad, horizontal solution that has its place in some tech stacks, Conexiom Sales Order Automation is a purpose-built SaaS automation solution specifically for manufacturers and distributors.
Because Conexiom is purpose-built, it uses machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to build machine models based on an extremely large dataset. And because the technology processes more than 1 million documents every month, there’s plenty of data to go round. Therefore, the ML improves quickly to solve any varied document.
As a self–learning system, AI makes informed decisions and recommendations based on data. Therefore, it can make decisions and iterate through changes faster, disregarding the changes that do not work and building and improving on the changes that do work.
This mix of modern tech gives Conexiom “True Automation”—complex data transformation and touchless document processing with 100% data accuracy.
A sales order automation solution with this capability can process up to 80% of incoming orders without human intervention, which is called touchless document processing. True Automation delivers a nearly touchless experience, giving your CSRs their time back to:
- Focus on delivering unparalleled customer service
- Cross- and upsell
- Execute high-value-added tasks
- Generate revenue
- Analyse data to discover customer/market trends and take action