Technologies like machine learning and AI make business process automation (BPA) increasingly achievable for companies that want to streamline key business functions — customer service or knowledge management, for example — while improving both employee and customer experiences.

But what exactly is BPA, and how can businesses go about implementing it? And what are the potential benefits of leaning into BPA? At Botpress, we’re excited about the potential of BPA and conversational AI. This article offers an introductory look at what BPA is, why it’s good for your business, and how you can get started working with it.

What is BPA or Business Process Automation?

In simplest terms, BPA is the use of technology to automate business processes that are complex, repetitive, and data-heavy. It’s a methodology that businesses use to streamline and integrate their operations, and it can be applied to any part of a business. You might choose to narrow your focus and automate key processes, or you might develop a wider strategy centered around BPA to help manage your business.

Increased efficiency and reduced costs are the key benefits of BPA. Simply put, it allows you to do more with less. That’s part of the reason why so many companies are leaning into BPA and why it’s set to play a large role in the future of industry. A recent survey conducted by UiPath found that more than 90% of organizations surveyed were already using business process automation, and 73% of those organizations reported that they were happy or very happy with the benefits offered by BPA.

People often confuse business process automation (BPA) with business process management (BPM). Technically they’re two separate strategies, but there is some overlap. BPM is all about managing processes. BPA has the same goal but relies on automation to do it. In other words, all BPA is a form of BPM, but not all BPM includes BPA. Process management and automation are related but not identical.

One prominent form of business process automation is conversational AI. But what exactly is conversational AI? Think of it this way. When you have a conversation with a computer, you want it to feel like a human conversation. You want it to respond accurately to your questions, to demonstrate comprehension, and to offer up relevant solutions. Conversational AI is the technology that allows this to happen. Chatbots, for instance, rely on conversational AI to bridge the divide between our language and the language of computers.

How Conversational AI Drives Successful BPA in Any Industry

From a practical standpoint, business process automation can take many shapes. From streamlining human resources onboarding processes to optimizing a bank’s customer service and outreach, BPA can help integrate information systems and workflow to provide a more reliable and efficient service.

Conversational AI is an integral aspect of many BPA functions, precisely because it automates processes, like conversation, that would ordinarily need to take place between two humans. Some of the most common use cases of conversational AI for BPA include:

  • Customer support. Banks, financial centers, and similar businesses often take advantage of conversational AI to provide efficient and timely customer support services. Whether that means quickly answering FAQs, directing users to a relevant service, or automating voice-mail follow-up, conversational AI takes complex and personal interactions and effectively automates them.
  • Conversational marketing. Because chatbots can carry on conversations with multiple users at a time, they’re an ideal tool to fulfill easy sales. Conversational AI can recognize a customer’s intent and provide a seamless and immediate transaction, which is critical when you realize that on average it takes more than 20 clicks to complete an online transaction.
  • Data collection. Conversational AI can be integrated with analytics platforms and communications systems to simplify data collection and aggregation. Every time your conversational AI interacts with a customer, it collects information about the interaction, including data on customer preferences, that can help you fine-tune your services.

There are several other use cases that companies are taking advantage of. Apple, Google, and other tech giants, for instance, are investing heavily in personal assistants capable of carrying on actionable conversations.

With the value of the conversational AI market set to increase to $15 billion by 2024, more and more businesses are adopting the technology. Investment banking has also recently seen a turn to conversational AI, one that’s allowed them to cut down on losses while streamlining customer service and trading operations.

But it’s not just banks and tech giants leaning into conversational AI. The technology itself is suitable for a wide variety of businesses. Circle K, the popular convenience store and fuel station chain, saw success implementing a multilingual conversational assistant to reduce and manage call volume. It only took Circle K a few months to develop and implement its conversational AI, an impressive speed that boosted its ROI.

Because conversational AI and business process automation have as their endgame optimization, they make it easy to establish a sustainable ROI. Implementing conversational AI can quickly yield high reductions in customer service costs and churn rates, decreases in staff hours per day, and increases in the number of interactions and transactions handled.

Getting Started with Your First BPA Project Using Conversational AI

At first glance, business process automation can seem overwhelming. You might worry about how to integrate it into your chatbot business model, but that would be missing the point. BPA is all about integration and simplification, taking your existing business practices and refining them until they’re running at peak efficiency.

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to BPA, consider implementing conversational AI as a first step. The potential rewards of investing in conversational AI are self-evident. From streamlining customer interactions to boosting data collection — all while cutting costs — conversational AI all but promises an impressive ROI. Learn more about the benefits of conversational AI by reaching out to Botpress.

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