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Hybrid RPA: Human Machine Collaboration in 2024

RPA software spending worldwide has almost quadrupled in the last four years. However, 1/3 to 1/2 of the enterprises that transitioned into RPA failed in their projects.

One of the reasons behind such failure is the attempt to completely remove human intervention from the process.

In order to understand if your expectations of RPA automation coincide with your goals and process structure, it is vital to understand different types of RPA.

Code-based RPA might is not easy to implement and maintain; low-code RPA is not that customizable. Enter, hybrid RPA that leverages both attended and unattended automation to deliver the best of both worlds.

In this article, we discuss what hybrid RPA is, its benefits, and its use cases.

What is Hybrid RPA?

Hybrid RPA combines the two types of Robotic Process Automation (RPA): attended automation and unattended automation:

1. Attended automation

This software only operates through human triggers and works alongside a professional to optimize performance by minimizing repetitive tasks. The primary use of attended automation is for jobs that require human intervention. Attended automation plays the role of a virtual assistant on front-office tasks and is designed for specific user tasks.

Learn more about front office automation.

2. Unattended automation

This software focuses on more repetitive tasks that would otherwise slow down because of human intervention due to their large quantity. Hence, unattended RPA tools contribute more to the back-office functions of businesses. Examples of tasks that would require unattended automation include web scraping, manual data entry, record maintenance, etc. 

3. Hybrid automation 

This could best be described as the automation tool and the human workforce working in tandem on a repetitive process. This combined approach is preferred in workplaces where it is too difficult to utilize unattended automation as the process requires some sort of human intervention and is error-prone to have attended automation because of the large quantity of the task.

Hybrid automation improves work quality by bringing human creativity and decision-making ability together with the efficiency of automation tools. In this way, human input to automation brings more innovative solutions and paves the way for thorough strategic decisions. Hybrid Automation tools work both on front-end and back-end tasks. 

What are the differences between hybrid RPA vs hybrid automation?

These are both recently introduced terms so both of their meanings are not set in stone. However, RPA is one of the automation technologies. Broader use of automation technologies beyond RPA (e.g. process mining, business process management, machine learning) in combination with human expertise is better called hybrid automation.

What are the benefits of hybrid automation?

1. Customer satisfaction

As hybrid automation is often used in customer-facing roles, eliminating repetitive tasks enables customer service employees to work more efficiently. Efficiency, in this case, includes both the quality of the work done as a result of using both attended and unattended bots and a decrease in average call-handling time.

2. An optimized mix of human intervention vs automation

Attended and Unattended automation does not reckon with complicated business processes and edge cases where it is too difficult to structure the work process for codifying the workload. Over-reliance on attended or unattended automation in these cases would not only produce undesired results but also overload the responsibilities of the human workforce with detecting and fixing errors.

While these cases do not account for the majority of businesses, hybrid automation is more effective in optimizing automation choices for enterprises that can benefit from more human intervention in automation. 

3. Increased automation scope

By combining the best of the capabilities of humans and machines, more processes can be automated. As a result, companies can reap the benefits of RPA / automation from more processes.

Hybrid automation challenges

1. Lack of skilled employees

As Hybrid Automation requires human assistance to start and complete the task, it is necessary for enterprises using this type of automation to train their staff and ensure that their technical expertise is up to the level needed to operate the automation tools.

Recommendation: Make sure that your team acquires the right training before implementing any automation solution. There are many vendors that provide a service of employee training for the implementation of the tools.

2. The complexity of solution implementation

While Hybrid Automation may seem like the optimal option as it uses the advantages of both types of automation, in practice, it is a complicated process to integrate hybrid automation into the business processes.

It is also challenging to choose the right tool. As an enterprise grows, the business requirements and workload may significantly change. Hence, it is essential to find a tool that can adapt to the changes in your work environment. 

Recommendation: Businesses can rely on RPA consultants’ expertise to help them identify processes to automate and the right tool to do so.

Hybrid automation use cases

Hybrid automation is most often used for customer-facing tasks, such as customer services, call centers, and hotels, to optimize repetitive tasks and create more time for users to cater to their customers’ needs. 

1. Customer service

Customer service teams can benefit significantly from the hybrid approach to automation. Although some companies in the last year opted for complete automation of the customer service experience by adopting chatbots, many believe that even with the help of AI, chatbots cannot completely replace humans. According to research, people do not like to share their important problems with chatbots.

This is where hybrid automation comes into the picture. Hybrid automation tools allow customer service employees to talk with the customer, collect the otherwise unorganized and unstructured data and feed it into the bot. The software, in return, analyzes the input and offers solutions. 

2. Sales

Hybrid automation is also effectively used in sales. Sales agents can use hybrid automation to improve their performance through automated data entry and interpretation and job schedulers.

For example, hybrid automation is used for client and prospect management. The RPA bot creates a contact information list of potential leads to input CRM. For the missing contacts, the tool also searches on the internet for further contact information of the potential client. It can also be used also in the later stages of the sales process, where the RPA bot automates contract designing and customization process based on past experience. 

3. Other

Hybrid automation is also used in other fields such as supply chain management, inventory management, human resources, onboarding, screening applicants, etc. 

For more on RPA

Check out RPA articles on our website and feel free to check our data-driven lists of RPA software and RPA consultants.

For more information on different automation technologies, visit our automation section.

If you have other questions about hybrid RPA and automation, feel free to ask:

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Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst

Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.

Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.

He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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