How Machine Learning is Driving Business Process Automation

In recent years, machine learning has experienced rapid growth across nearly every sector and could soon be a key part of how organisations maintain their competitive edge across the digital age. One of the more practical ways that companies might leverage this method is by automating certain practices, letting the firm streamline its operations. Business process automation offers a number of benefits for both the company and its staff – especially with the help of machine learning.

Innovations by artificial intelligence companies such as SAP are transforming how organisations engage with AI and providing new business opportunities in the process. Firms of all kinds create tremendous amounts of data every single day, and machine learning can apply this information to improve efficiency across every area of the business. In this blog post, we look at how machine learning allows different industries to automate their usual practices, alongside the benefits this provides.


What is the definition of machine learning?

The definition of Machine learning refers to a subfield of artificial intelligence that uses algorithms and comprehensive analytics to identify a pattern. This particular technique is quickly becoming popular due to its ability to make intelligent conclusions, investigating high volumes of data in order to improve its accuracy. Machine learning is present in many of the products that we use every day – this is how streaming services determine which television shows and movies to recommend, for example. The overarching goal of this technique is to build an understanding of users, customers and even staff members to improve its own business capabilities.

Applications that make use of machine learning require little human input to analyse business data – and could even receive this information automatically, depending on the software’s functionality. There are many ways a firm can apply these analytics, such as by figuring out the most effective marketing tactics, forecasting demand for certain products, or even taking the human element out of some processes. However, the company decides to use machine learning, which leads to more efficient operations and better decision-making. Machine learning is a great way for any organisation to accommodate and keep pace with the digital age.


What is the definition of business process automation?


Business process automation is a technique which aims to lower the number of processes and duties that firms reserve for their staff members. The complexity of these tasks vary, and usually depend upon an organisation’s needs – but it’s possible to automate even complicated company procedures with the right solution. Most BPA approaches involve programming an application to run the same route process at desired intervals, allowing the staff to focus on other issues that might require their attention. Integrating machine learning alongside this is a great way to further increase the capabilities of automation.

BPA can take many forms, such as purchase orders, employee onboarding, service ticket generation, invoicing, recruitment procedures, and more. Organisations worldwide are using automation to optimise their processes and make sure they stay as efficient as their competitors. It’s important that companies implement this wisely; an improper approach without clearly defining short-term and long-term goals can lead to the company losing money instead of saving it. Machine learning may also improve the perspective of your company’s automation strategy, allowing them to engage with tasks that would otherwise require a human’s perspective for accurate results.


The benefits of business process automation

Automating your business processes can bring a number of advantages, including:


1. Higher profits

The need to manually perform certain processes that offer little direct value for customers could result in your company losing possible profit over time. If the firm’s devices are executing these menial tasks independently, staff members could devote their efforts to more critical processes, such as tending to customers. This also increases the value that employees provide to the company.


2. Faster completion

Automation can often conduct their processes faster than human employees – while also freeing up more time for the team to perform their other duties. This helps the business complete tasks at a quicker rate, resulting in entire projects finishing much sooner. A thorough automation strategy might also prevent significant delays by spotting errors or inefficiencies within the processes they automate.


3. No human error

By automating certain business processes, companies could massively reduce the risk of human error – as even experienced staff members make mistakes, especially during routine tasks. As machines follow a set path, they can reliably and consistently conduct their duties so long as they have accurate data. With fewer errors to worry about, the organisation can deliver a stronger service.


4. Greater efficiency

Automation, especially in conjunction with machine learning, could intelligently identify the most efficient way of completing a task. An automated approach could reveal that certain processes require fewer resources than previously estimated, saving time and money. The standardisation inherent to automated solutions also allows your firm to maintain these efficient processes long-term and ensure they can continue reaping these benefits.


5. Clear record-keeping

Documentation is important for any business process as this shows exactly what steps the team has taken; this also applies to the company’s automated machines. The software you use may also generate key performance indicators (or KPIs) to ensure you understand the organisation on a deeper level. Record-keeping also allows an organisation to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring regulatory compliance.


6. Scalability

Manual processes can change over time as the business grows, potentially leading to staff members becoming overwhelmed or requiring additional hires to accommodate this. Automated software is able to avoid this and can simply apply the same actions to a greater number of processes, perhaps even simultaneously. Regardless of how the company’s needs develop, automation could easily rise to meet this challenge.


Understanding SAP and Machine Learning

One of the main architects leading the integration of machine learning and business processes is SAP (Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing). As a leading provider of machine learning software, they have a range of products which could help businesses streamline (or otherwise improve) their business processes. It is important your firm investigates the many SAP machine-learning services available on the market to see which option is the best fit for your particular needs. With their innovations as a part of your organisation’s efficiency strategy, it’s possible to reap the benefits of process automation.

The SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) is a cloud-based approach which combines various services in one application to help companies leverage data to their advantage – such as through machine learning. Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (IRPA) is one of the BTP’s main features; this uses software robots to execute low-value and repetitive duties of all kinds. Robotic Process Automation is typically unable to become smarter over time, but integrating machine learning can circumvent these limitations, boosting the capabilities of this unique approach. Beyond this specific feature, a unified business strategy that incorporates artificial intelligence offers a range of benefits.

Another key aspect of the Business Technology Platform is SAP Build, which emphasises the importance of low-code development and automation. This transforms business process automation into a fully holistic strategy – massively accelerating the creation of new software and making sure the relevant workflow processes are able to execute themselves. This requires no formal scripting of any kind, allowing drag-and-drop simplicity in order to facilitate an easy solution. SAP Build’s in-built Process Automation feature has applications across a range of sectors, intelligently processing documents and other forms of data to deliver automated workflows fitting the specific requirements of your business.


When should firms implement business process automation?

Companies must intelligently select which processes require automation or machine learning – otherwise, their strategy could have diminishing returns. There are a number of factors that companies might use to determine the tasks that they automate. First and foremost, tasks which require frequent repetitions (potentially during a single workday) can benefit from automation as few variables are likely to change between operations. If there are time-sensitive duties, automation might perform these processes a lot more quickly without compromising on quality. The consistency of BPA also ensures a strong level of regulatory compliance bolstered by exhaustive documentation at every stage.

Business processes that involve transactions benefit from automation as well, as do those which intersect with other tasks; these are both instances where absolute reliability is essential for a well-functioning service. Firms commonly implement automation to create chatbots that handle customer service interactions, allowing users to get a human-like experience much more quickly without waiting for someone to become available. This can help speed up the overall resolution process, also potentially solving the query before a human agent needs to get involved. Business process automation could be an important component of customer satisfaction in many situations.

Automation can be a core part of the company’s employee onboarding procedure – ensuring that new recruits have a complete understanding of the organisation and how to conduct their duties. Hiring and onboarding an employee might be time-consuming for any business. Your firm may simply not have the time or manpower to offer a fully comprehensive introduction; internal business tools can streamline this and let the new recruit get to work. For example, the employee could quickly sign a digital contract and examine the necessary workflows with the help of process automation; this approach is adaptable to many industries and organisations.


The role of SAP and machine learning technologies in other industries

Companies can leverage machine learning to automate their business practices, no matter the specific industry; this technique is highly adaptable for a range of processes. Here are just a few examples of sectors which could apply machine learning technology for added efficiency:


1. Pharmaceutical

Machine learning represents much more than simply being able to reliably automate repetitive processes – it’s also able to intelligently perform complex procedures using the information that it collects. The technology has significant implications for the pharmaceutical industry, especially its drug development. SAP’s own algorithms can analyse clinical trial results and the raw data these trials produce to figure out which medications and even individual ingredients would provide patients with the highest chance of recovery.

The software may also use this information to simulate certain trials, allowing teams to predict how people will respond to prospective treatments. This cannot eliminate the drug testing stage entirely but is able to optimise it significantly, making the team less dependent on human candidates and validating the outcome of simulated or real trials. Machine learning could also identify ‘fallen angel drugs’ which would otherwise never surpass the testing stage – giving them a second chance.


2. Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry involves many rote tasks that are easy to automate – this could include data entry, quality control, inventory management, and more. Machine learning allows the company to go beyond making sure their practices continue as normal after implementing automation; organisations could instead use this to refine their processes. For example, machine learning can show firms the inefficiencies of their current storage techniques, including how to maximise space and avoid item shortages.

Intelligent Robotic Process Automation is particularly helpful in these scenarios; these software robots are able to understand an organisation’s goals and give information on how to accomplish them. A manufacturing plant would definitely benefit from implementing IRPA to facilitate data entry – which is usually highly repetitive and can take thousands of hours away from other tasks every year. On top of this, inputting data manually can lead to avoidable errors and costly delays.


3. Accountancy

IRPA and other SAP innovations can streamline the accounting process for any business by transforming typical invoice practices. In this context, software robots are able to read the correspondence between an accountant and their client, intelligently isolating the information relevant to invoicing. It then extracts the documents and uses a built-in machine learning program to process them as an invoice; IRPA can do this regardless of the business or industry that the client represents.

SAP’s software robot utilises the S4/HANA system to monitor these invoices after generating them – this entire process only takes a matter of seconds and is free of human error. For companies which process many invoices as well as the accountants that handle them every day, automating this through machine learning can improve operational efficiency and the overall quality of accounting. Implementing IRPA could lead to an incredibly high return on investment for all parties.


4. Distribution

The combination of automation and machine learning can also optimise the overall supply chain – making it an essential investment for distribution companies that wish to remain at the forefront of their industry. Machine learning algorithms can investigate supply chain and sales data to determine any likely shifts in demand, as well as how to accommodate them. For example, business process automation can independently order new goods if it believes a stock shortage is imminent.

Machine learning expertly interprets the company’s data and uses this to generate accurate suggestions which could offer the best returns. The system can also account for stock levels to ensure the business definitely sells items with expiration dates before they reach this point. Staff members can accomplish these duties with their experience and knowledge of long-term demand, though they may not have access to comprehensive analytics, which limits the accuracy of their deductions.


5. Automotive

The automotive industry significantly benefits from machine learning – the information it provides is important for determining the right preemptive maintenance checks. Businesses can use process automation to forecast and account for the risk of failure by comparing equipment specifications with current safety regulations. SAP’s Data Intelligence solution is at the core of this, promoting lower costs and greater efficiency while boosting the customer’s experience; companies can also use IRPA to help with service tickets.

Machine learning is one way that developers can build self-driving car systems with a human-like awareness of driving and its many nuances, though widespread implementation might be years away. Non-automotive firms could also use self-driving cars to deliver their products – automating a significant amount of their supply chain and reducing these expenses in the process. As business process automation continues to develop in time with major technological innovations, new opportunities will soon present themselves.


The future of business process automation

As machine learning solutions continuously grow and develop a better understanding of the world at large, we can expect their capabilities to similarly expand. New products are becoming available each year with even more features that accommodate common business practices and requirements. SAP is always refining its service to ensure every company can access high-quality machine learning and automation solutions – your organisation could massively streamline its strategies by implementing an SAP Business Technology Platform.


Bluestonex specialises in SAP technology, allowing us to unite it with companies across the United Kingdom so they can ensure a better experience for customers and staff alike. We work alongside every client to identify a support service that can match their exact needs, letting them embrace new innovations which can guarantee a return on investment. To begin your digital transformation journey and find the software that best suits your needs, feel free to <a href=””>get in touch with the Bluestonex team today</a>.