Shared services are the integration of activities used in multiple offices or branches into a new organization, often a shared service centre (SSC). Now, sharing governance, standards, common processes and enabling technologies; companies can optimise their people, processes, technology, capital and time. Therefore, decreasing costs, increasing quality of operations and improving services throughout the company.
Shared services has immense capability, considering the technology able to facilitate SSC processes. Robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) are just the surface of technologies that cooperate with shared services and the possibilities for them are rapidly growing as new developments are made. Where RPA automates rule-based processes, AI leverages the capability of machine learning (where the computer is not programmed to intake the information but does) from outside the business environment.
RPA and AI have been described as the “next era of back-office transformation”, but what is it really capable of?
Robotic Process Automation
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the technology that allows individuals to configure computer software, or a ‘robot’ who behaves as a person would when interacting within a digital environment to execute a business process.
RPA robots utilize the user interface to obtain information and manipulate applications the way humans do. They analyse, trigger responses and communicate with other systems to perform repetitive tasks.
RPA allows departments such as business development, HR, finance and operations to save time from doing repetitive tasks, increase their productivity and move positively towards business objectives.
Artificial intelligence (AI) functions by replicating human cognitive functions. It is a step beyond RPA technology-wise and is not dependent on RPA. Although, still a fairly new technology, especially for shared services, the innovation and rapid development make it a viable option for companies as they expand their capabilities and increase their productivity.
Artificial intelligence can assist companies in expanding their service offerings and reinventing their operations processes.
AI is useful for structuring unstructured data and utilizing the information to make a decision or trigger a specific response. It can be used in combination with RPA to produce results, however is not a necessary duo as it can function individually.
Some examples of how AI can be used:
- HR: AI can be used to read CVs and choose the ones that match the job description and criteria depending on the set parameters
- Finance and accounting: AI can be used to select the right general ledger accounts depending on the invoice you’ve received and the specific accounting guidelines
- Customer service: AI can be used in chatbots to interact with people depending on their history of customer queries and unstructured market data to offer a solution.
Shared services is still developing technology-wise, however, these technologies are already being used globally, often in larger companies and the benefits are already evident.
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