Ready for Robots: Using robotics to automate the workplace

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If you’re reading this blog post, there’s a good chance you’ve already automated your financial processes with paperless automation software, like MetaViewer. And if you’ve been enjoying the benefits of said automation software, you’re probably looking around like a kid in a toy store wondering, “What else can I automate!?!”

In the Harvard Business Review’s article, “The 3 Ways Work Can Be Automated,” George Zarkadakis, Ravin Jesuthasan and Tracey Malcolm dive into three unique types of automation: Robotic Process Automation, Cognitive Automation and Social Robotics. If you’re looking to automate other parts of your business, one of these options may be for you. Here’s the breakdown:

Robotic Process Automation

This type of automation is “used to automate high-volume, low-complexity, and routine tasks,” and tasks that are typically done by humans, like transferring data from one software system to another. An example of this includes taking data from emails or spreadsheets, processing this information by applying specific business rules, then entering the information into another business system, like an ERP system.

Cognitive Automation

Unlike Robotic Process Automation, Cognitive Automation sets out to “replace humans in nonroutine, complex, creative, and often exploratory tasks – in other words, systems that can automate human cognition, or cognitive automation.” Developments in IT are making computers that are capable of recognizing patterns, as well as understanding and analyzing big data. Referred to as “recognition intelligence,” this includes things like voice recognition, voice-to-text, etc. Today, companies are using Cognitive Automation in the form of apps with image recognition intelligence, as well as through chatbots to provide on-demand customer service and advice to customers. Cognitive Automation can also be used to analyze and predict big data, helping companies strategize for the future of their work.

Social Robotics

These robots are much more similar to the sci-fi robots you are likely envisioning. According to the Harvard Business Review, “they are mobile and move around in our everyday world.” These include devices like drones; devices that are programmable and adaptable and can complete new tasks as they learn them. They combine the functionality of both Cognitive and Process Automation, automating routine and nonroutine tasks. These robots are often used in the order fulfillment process but, in the case of Amazon, the robots haven’t replaced humans, but make them more productive by helping them complete tasks faster and more accurately. The Harvard Business Review found that Amazon employees now take 15 minutes to fulfill some orders rather than 90 minutes, while also allowing Amazon to increase its inventory by 50 percent.


Have you gone beyond document management to automate some of your other processes or aspects of your business? Can you see any of these three automation types as a potential benefit to your company?

1 thought on “Ready for Robots: Using robotics to automate the workplace”

  1. Robotic process automation (RPA) is the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a “robot” to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.

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