The ROLE OF A SOLUTION ARCHITECT: Here’s How an RPA Solutions Architect Plays an Integral Role in the Automation Process

“A good design will actually design the company,” says Donald Norman.

Especially so, when a company desires the company of bots. All along, we have been telling you how RPA is the need of the hour, and the various processes and trivia involved in the project framework delivery. It is no surprise that the actual development and deployment process in RPA forms an extremely integral part of the entire project; and any errors in these processes can result in the creation of faulty bots. However, are processes directly handed over to the developers in order for them to bestow life on the process robots? Just as a home needs an architect to design its various chambers, automation also requires one to carefully construct a systematic framework to be implemented in the project. Let’s welcome the architects of automation, solution architects! In our earlier blog, we’ve already discussed, in a nutshell, 5 different job profiles in the RPA domain. We’re back with a blog, and today, it’s time to dedicate a few minutes and paragraphs to the persons who form the pillars of automation.

1. HAVE WE PLANNED OUT OUR PLAN ADEQUATELY?

While planning is a crucial step, one must ensure that the plan addresses all important and intricate phases and aspects of the venture, so that the implementation can be smooth and hassle-free. It is the responsibility of a Business Analyst to study the various processes of a business and then decide which of these processes may be automated. It is here that the Solution Architect steps in. The role of a Solution Architect begins when this automation idea needs to be put into practice, but requires a systematic approach for this implementation to be carried out.

2.CAPTURING THE AUTOMATION PROCESS FOR YOUR BUSINESS PROCESS

The Solution Architect devices effective process maps and comes up with relevant solutions that can boost the automation process to a great extent, and act as a framework for the RPA developers to easily step into their roles. The solution architect essentially designs two types of process maps or designs – PDD or Process Design Document; and TDD, or Technical Design Document. While the former design is aimed at addressing the ‘as-is process’ of the RPA project, the latter one attempts at capturing the ‘to-be process’.
Once the processes to be automated have been earmarked by the Business Analyst, the Solution Architect then carefully studies these processes, and determines how the automation can be carried out in order to meet the requirements of the company as evaluated by the Business Analyst. The Solution Architect has to constantly keep in mind the aims and objectives of the automation process that have already been agreed upon by the clients as well as the automation providers; while also presenting a tangible and plausible solution for automating the rule-based task in question.

3.PROCESS DESIGN DOCUMENT

The Process Design Document focuses on the overall automation process, from data gathering, process standardization and recommendations, to development, testing and deployment of the process robots. The solution architect constantly communicates with the Business Analysts and Project Managers in order to ensure that there is no disagreement between the persons involved in the process; and to bridge any discrepancies in the process.
It is after the development of the Process Design Document capturing the as-is process, that the Standard Operating Procedure or SOP may be devised in order to break down the complex processes and sequences of the plan and ensure easy programming. One also needs to design the process capture template, modeling standards and process maps, before the actual development procedures commence.

4.LET’S GET TECHNICAL!

Now, we have successfully completed the as-is process, and received a thumbs-up for the same from the clients, as well as the various other persons involved in the project. We have also successfully completed the recommendations phase, wherein the specific RPA processes to be carried out are earmarked, and the unnecessary ones are eliminated, with detailed analyses of cost benefits and feasibility. Now, our RPA developers are almost all set to take the RPA project to the next level by actually creating our bots. But…are we missing out on something?
The role of the solution architect does not simply end at producing the Process Design Document. While the PDD helps in identifying the various stages and phases of the project, this document is not sufficient in itself for the RPA developers to take over their herculean task. The Solution Architect now has to create and document another design specially dedicated to the RPA developers; namely, the Technical Design Document or TDD. The Technical Design Document focuses specifically on the guidelines to be followed by the RPA developers while developing the bot; as well as the technical specifications to be employed in the software. This document enables our able RPA developers to follow the plan through with ease, and with a systematic framework to fall back on during times of confusion or doubt. Along with the TDD, a Target Operating Model is also designed in order to chalk out the vision or aim of the RPA development project.

CONCLUSION

In this way, the Solution Architect acts as the backbone of the RPA development process; carefully setting up the foundation of the RPA project so that the construction may become easier and hassle-free. The solution architects ensure that the plan does not simply remain a shallow idea, but is made viable, plausible and accessible to all the persons involved in the project.

THE PROS AND CONS OF AI: A tightrope walk

With respect to Artificial Intelligence, the buzzword of the 21st Century, Dave Waters says:

“Artificial Intelligence is an infant at best. Once it becomes a teenager and believes it is smarter than its parents, will AI rebel?”

In today’s rapidly advancing world, the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is not uncommon to hear or read, in magazines and blog posts (such as those posted by XLNC!); at business meetings and on television. In our everyday lives, a lot of us apply AI technology to our mundane organizational as well as other personal tasks. However, a lot of individuals and groups are still very skeptical about this technology, and the idea of machines functioning autonomously.

While AI enthusiasts often sound gung-ho about the fields of Machine Learning and Automation – claiming these to make life more efficient and dynamic – a lot of others still struggle with getting over the apprehension that AI might take complete control of human life.
We’re back with a blog; and today, let’s evaluate AI’s benefits and drawbacks against the backdrop of the 21st Century world:

I.HEY! AI AIN’T ALL THAT BAD, AFTER ALL…

For those of you who are apprehensive and skeptical about embracing a technology as “frightening” and “overpowering” as AI, we’re here to break the ice between AI and you. Here we are, with the positive side of AI:

a.Artificial Intelligence does not recognize intellectual laziness

While human intelligence has managed to achieve leaps and bounds in various fields at different levels, it is always highly susceptible to spells of complacence and “intellectual laziness”. That’s where AI steps in. Siri, Alexa and Cortana do not tire of assisting you regardless of the time of day or night (check out our previous blog on chat-bots); and your personalized AI tutors will never tire of teaching you or helping you with teaching others. This is one of the reasons for Artificial Intelligence being promoted over manual task completion.

b.To err is human, so humans created Artificial Intelligence.

Einstein famously said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

As living beings, mistakes have always been a simultaneous process alongside the successes. But Artificial Intelligence is definitely not a blunder (okay, hang on…we’re coming to the cons!). When programmed accurately, an AI technology is less likely to commit errors; and is usually flexible across different platforms.

c.‘Cause humans are so quick, they find themselves too slow…

Today, the world is now resorting to quickness in whatever it does – so much so, that the natural speed of humans is sometimes too slow for this world. And so, AI bridges the gap between the fast progressing world and the people residing in it. It provides faster and more efficient ways of reaching the desired ends. AI is being widely used in almost all sectors today, including healthcare, education, transportation and communication, and defense and military. It ensures speed and accuracy with minimal compromise on either.

d.Your AI is sensitive, but not emotional.

While chat-bots and GPS may be courteous and sensitive to your needs, they certainly do not possess deeper emotions and mood-swings; and you can rest assured that they will not complain of overwork and fatigue. And such a detached concern for the customers ensures that they can be reliable, diligent and caring, even when the work is strenuous and hectic.

II. AI AIN’T ALL THAT GOOD EITHER!

But, are we headed towards utopia? Is AI really so perfect that one can totally overlook possibilities of disadvantages? Most definitely not! Just like everything else on this earth, AI, too, has two sides. And a lot of people are skeptical about applying this technology for this reason. Come, let’s evaluate the various drawbacks of AI:

a.Yes, my processes will be more efficient, but at what ‘cost’?

Once we install and apply AI to our day-to-day lives, Artificial Intelligence can certainly be quite viable and cost effective. However, in the first place, it is important to install it to our already existing systems and ensure that it functions independently. And these processes are not exactly economical. Designing the specific tool of AI and then training the machine to operate without human intervention can be an expensive task, and one needs to be prepared to incur the expenditure in order to enjoy the results later.

b.Your AI is emotionally intelligent, but sometimes not intelligently emotional

Yes, AI may have been designed to understand human emotions and analyze sentiments. AI may also be able to carry out complex tasks that humans may never be able to undertake. However, there is a certain depth in perception and perspective that no machine has ever been able to touch, at least till now. And so, AI ventures can sometimes turn into not-so-pleasant adventures.

For example, in 2016, Microsoft’s Twitter chat-bot created havoc when it began abusing, and passing pro-Nazi comments such as “Hitler was right.” While this experimental chat-bot, Tay, was only imitating some humans who had been playing mischief, the situation was certainly alarming. Had the AI device been entirely controlled and mediated by a human, the situation may have probably been handled better.
We may consider AI as an innocent child whose active mind is a clean slate. It is the responsibility of humans to ensure it doesn’t waiver from the right path.

c.“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Einstein meant this only for human intelligence.

AI apparently can’t have fun beyond a certain extent – intrinsic creativity does not figure anywhere here. That’s a faculty exclusive to humans – and processes sans human intervention can, well, only do so much to help matters.

d.While taking the help of machines, are we becoming machines ourselves?

This is one of the greatest concerns that the modern world is having to face. There is always a threat that AI can replace human intelligence in a big way; however, a lot of us don’t realize that as creators of AI, it is we who have the upper-hand over our creations. As users, one must realize that machines and technology are not meant for encouraging intellectual laziness and procrastination; but rather, for facilitating increased efficiency and application of one’s intellect. And any device, when misused, can be detrimental to society and individuals. AI is no different.

Source:

Infoworld

WELCOMING DIGITAL EDUCATION: How Digitization is Transforming the Education Sector Today

With the advent of modern technology and a communication revolution of sorts, the world is shrinking and shrinking and shrinking till it all gets compressed into your phone. And amidst all this hullabaloo, can the education sector stay far behind?

From Gurukuls and Ashrams to schools and classrooms to Udemy and Coursera, education has come a long way. A decade ago, the sight of blackboards and chalks and dusters and worksheets was more common than it is now; and it’s no surprise that it might be an even rarer phenomenon in the next decade. A lot of philosophers have often reiterated the oneness of the entire world, and the universality of existence. The emergence and establishment of e-learning and virtual classroom has ensured the practical implementation of this idea.

Today, teaching has become a way more flexible and virtual phenomenon, where teachers are earning double the amount while teaching with the same zest and passion, while students are able to access the educational content at their convenience, as opposed to having rigid timetables to abide by. According to Learndash, approximately 4.6 billion students are taking at least one online course today. On that note, here are some of the defining features of digitization in education:

1) ATE (Any Time Education):

The limitless reach of e-learning has ensured that teachers and students hailing from extremely diverse backgrounds can interact and hold discussions, and the ocean of knowledge can transcend all boundaries of geographical locations and time-zones.

2) Say goodbye to that ‘AB’ marking:

Teachers can safely bury their thick attendance registers. With e-learning, one can monitor and reduce absenteeism and truancy, since teachers can upload and students can view their content as per their convenience. The teacher’s sick leave, or the student’s day out will not affect the education process.

3) They learn more, you earn more:

Across the globe, teaching has always been regarded as a noble profession, but a thankless job. With e-learning, teaching continues to be as noble as ever, only with the teacher being rewarded handsomely for his/her efforts. Teachers can now earn double their usual amount, while teaching with the same zest.

4) Now, no more “raise hand to answer”!

With many e-learning platforms offering discussion panels and internal chat facilities, classrooms discussions could never have gotten easier and less chaotic. Enjoy peaceful discussions in your online classroom today.

5) Three hours of lectures, five hours of travel? Not anymore.

E-learning helps you get somewhere, without going anywhere for it. You may be at home, inside a café, at your hometown…doesn’t matter. Teachers and students can operate from anywhere.

6) Learn while you earn!

As a busy employee, e-learning values the employee’s lack of time, and need for further development. And so, organizations and industries can train and educate employees using e-learning.

While e-learning has received an overwhelming response across the globe, and is rewriting the age-old definitions of education, personal contact and face-to-face interactions are still of immense value and relevance in today’s era. It’s probably best to conclude with the golden words of Professor Pierre Dussauge:

“The beauty is in finding the right balance between online and in-class learning, and the best way to make progress is to experiment with different combinations.”

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