Imagine you had a colleague that was always up for the boring, mundane, repetitive work. That you could just drop an email to, tell them what you need, and they would email you back, with the work completed. They’d never get bored, never make mistakes, will flag exceptions that you should look at, and always be up for more work, all day, every day.
Well, I’d like to introduce you to Rob Sparke, that colleague, and what Open Box calls its Real Estate Automation Engine. Instead of a flesh and blood colleague, Rob is a software robot that interacts with systems in a similar way that humans do. Otherwise known as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), this is the application of technology that allows companies to teach, or program, software robots to understand processes and then consistently replicate them. This gives companies the ability to map out business processes that are definable, repeatable and rules-based, and then assign a software robot to take care of the execution.
Rob is a software robot that interacts with systems in a similar way that humans do
Most of our clients start with using RPA to tackle simple, repetitive, admin-style tasks seeking to drive efficiency gains in operational processing, system connectivity, data management, compliance and risk management. The real estate teams initially with the most engagement have been Property Management and Occupier Services.
But we are seeing this evolve rapidly with the growing understanding of what automation can do. Other real estate teams, such as valuation, rating, research and even agency, start engaging with RPA. As they start exploring the power of automation they start wondering if it can help them with more complex tasks that expand their services or innovate their offering. This could be reporting solutions, website management and multi-source data gathering through to decision support solutions.
To be sure, RPA is not artificial intelligence or machine learning, although it can work closely with these advanced technologies, but we are pushing the boundaries with our clients where RPA is being applied. For instance, take a look at how RPA can automate research:
- Rob Sparke logs onto several sites and extracts data from multiple data sources including FTP sites, client sites, third party systems and web applications.
- Rob compiles the data and validates against a set of pre-set algorithms.
- Rob checks validation errors with a human controller and processes the approval and changes by updating a database of core records.
- Rob then generates a report in a prescribed format and automatically distributes this to a defined list by email, via a portal or via FTP.
You’ll notice that the only human involvement in this entire process is around validation.
Clients have seen staggering efficiency gains of up to 90% thanks to using RPA
Clients have seen staggering efficiency gains of up to 90% thanks to using RPA. In addition automation frees up your human colleagues to focus on strategic, customer-centric and revenue generation activities: up to 40% of employee time has been reclaimed from doing boring work. This makes for happier employees as well. Rob is also a fast worker, and our clients have seen a 40% reduction in handling and cycle time.
If you are looking at how you can improve the efficiency of your processes, reduce risk within your business, connect systems and data that cannot currently speak to each other or expand your services into areas that have been too costly, then it might be time to get Rob Sparke to join your team. He’ll not only give you all the advantages of automation, boosting your productivity while reducing risk and cost, he also never steals your lunch out the fridge.