Claire Wiggill, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, PMG
Although we live in the Age of Automation, it’s surprising how many business procedures are still manual. As marketers, we juggle numerous tasks, projects and assignments at any given time, so when we can automate activities, we really benefit.
One such beneficial automation technology is Robotic Process Automation. RPA is used to minimize and even eliminate manual tasks while reducing overall cost. Late last year, Gartner reported that by the end of 2022, 85 percent of large and very large organizations will have deployed some form of RPA, and that global spending on RPA software was estimated to reach $680 million in 2018 alone.
While this trend continues to gain momentum and companies explore how, where, when and whether they should implement RPA, some are finding that it isn’t living up to the hype received from the press and from RPA vendors. Before jumping on the RPA bandwagon, know that it’s not a one-stop, fix-all solution. But, paired with the right low-code process automation platform, RPA can be a critical tool for enterprises and, more specifically, a game-changer for those of us in marketing.
What Is RPA and How Can It Help?
RPA is leveraged to carry out manual tasks via an interface with a system or application. By mimicking human actions, these software robots reduce the burden of simple, repetitive, time-consuming tasks — think data entry where there’s a long list of records that need to be entered into a system, and the fields and formats are the same for each one.
RPA allows you to scale frequently executed manual activities that follow a well-defined process. It increases the speed of clerical work, while reducing the human error that often occurs when re-keying the same information into multiple systems. And because it uses existing IT infrastructure and automates existing business processes, implementing an RPA tool is a cheaper alternative to a full-scale business process management (BPM) project.
What RPA isn’t? – a means to reduce technical debt or improve inefficient business processes. According to Craig Le Clair, vice president and analyst for Forrester, “Some bad processes are getting robotized. RPA plugs gaps in legacy systems and will sometimes delay needed system modernization.”
Rote Marketing Tasks Simplified with RPA
So, how can marketers benefit from RPA? With programmed bots enabling you to execute manual, time-consuming tasks much faster, imagine how much more you could accomplish by eliminating these once-laborious tasks.
Working in Salesforce is a prime example since oftentimes, marketing is granted user but not administrative rights. One advantage of RPA, and a big reason for its popularity, is that it operates just like a human user, so a regular user’s login credentials are sufficient. No system account needs to be provisioned by IT. So, in this scenario, RPA makes it feasible for marketing teams to update a lot of records as a batch, instead of one at a time.
Another use case for RPA in marketing is with Google Analytics. Perhaps you’re on a marketing team within a large, global company and part of your job involves managing thousands of website assets. What do you do when your team needs to configure demographics settings and curtail tracking for EU sites to ensure GDPR compliance, and it’s taking weeks to complete the work? Here, RPA can perform these tasks, with significantly less human interaction – less of your team’s touch.
Fantastic! So, what’s the catch? Well, RPA is prone to errors when something unexpected happens, like the page takes longer to load on the web browser than usual. Other common bot failures occur from issues with optical character recognition (OCR) and intelligent character recognition (ICR), which come into play when a bot is deployed to automate data entry from manually completed forms.
How Can a Broader Automation Tool Fill-In RPA Gaps?
What’s the secret ingredient? Many organizations have found that implementing a low-code automation platform in conjunction with an RPA tool gives them the full benefit of the RPA technology. In our Google Analytics scenario, an automation platform will further increase efficiencies by extending error-handling capabilities and even minimizing bot failures by orchestrating re-tries. And automation of Google Analytics configuration and management can be expanded to streamline even more marketing processes.
Other benefits of adding an automation platform to your RPA tool include:
- Efficiency improvements from automating the processes around the bots;
- Built-in governance and audit trail capture to augment the security of utilizing RPA; and
- Flexibility to handle more complex, non-linear processes than RPA alone.
All these benefits can be added while still enjoying a fast and easy implementation when you choose a low-code platform that lets members of the marketing team build and deploy their own solutions – no need to get bogged down with bureaucratic project coordination. And rather than circumventing IT, in this case, marketing is simply maintaining their activities and independence. All while IT specialists can focus on what matters the most to them.
Increase Efficiencies and Success with an Automation Combo
So, if you’re worried about reaching the numerous marketing goals you’ve likely set for your team because everyone is time-pressed with too many repetitive low-value tasks, consider RPA to help. By carrying out basic tasks someone would normally have to do manually, RPA tools drive both efficiency and cost savings.
But don’t stop the automation there. If you do, you’re missing an opportunity to streamline so much more than basic tasks. When you combine RPA with the right automation platform, you’ll experience efficiencies that enable marketing to focus on projects within your competencies, such as driving brand awareness and customer loyalty.
About the Author: Claire brings over 20 years of experience to PMG, where she is responsible for leading the company’s strategic marketing initiatives as well as for demand generation. Prior to this role, she spent three years as service delivery manager, leading customer projects from inception to delivery, including the company’s largest ITFM implementation for a leading Fortune 200 company. Claire’s broad business experience includes a range of management, marketing, finance and advisory roles for companies large and small, public and private.