A look at the digital workbench: How we want to use robotics

Digitalization & innovation, 19.01.2018

The readers of this blog already know: We at ERGO have decided to set up a “Robotics Competence Centre” in order to establish the necessary expertise for national and international implementation. Today, I’d like to provide a glimpse at our digital workbench and describe exactly how we at ERGO go about dealing with this topic.

In selecting a technology partner, we made sure to use a synergistic solution in the group that has been tried and tested within the insurance industry; At the same time, we have worked closely with our IT colleagues to set up the necessary structures and to integrate the solution into our existing IT landscape. Robotics is no classic IT project, but in order for the implementation to be successful various prerequisites within the IT infrastructure have to be fulfilled.
We are currently identifying processes that suitable for the use of robotics. Colleagues from different divisions at ERGO can contribute to this search – because the appropriate processes can relate to diverse topics. It is fundamentally important that the processes have a so-called structured digital input format. That means: If paper letters or free text mail without a clear structure come into play, they are not optimally suitable for robotics. Conversely, it is precisely such processes that are of interest to us, namely ones in which the individual processing steps follow definable rules. That means: Anything that can be described in terms of “if-then-else” is a good candidate for robotics.
If such a process is found, it is analysed and documented in detail by the Robotics Competence Centre and the respective departments. The IT associates help to analyse all facets of the  IT systems concerned – as well as the feasibility, potential risks and alternative possibilities for automation. One of the greatest challenges is the detailed and complete documentation of the process – including the description of exceptional cases. This documentation later serves as the foundation for our programmers for developing the robotic process. In the daily work process, the robot then precisely follows the defined rules. If information is incomplete or incorrect, they cause the process to stop or lead to faulty processing.
Currently, we are preparing for the productive use of robotics with various departments. The spectrum of the processes is large: Among these are more complex processes such as the transferring of inventory, but also simple process sequences such as the modification of address data or the ordering of medical devices.

One thing is clear: As a result of these new processes, the work of colleagues will also change – they will at various points in the future be playing one-two with the virtual robot. For example, in cases in which the robot is unable to fully complete a business transaction, such as in a special case, in which human judgement is necessary. These business transactions will then be relayed by the robot to the defined employee for final processing.

I am convinced that as a fully developed technology, robotics will relieve our qualified colleagues of the burden of standard routines and make their work tasks more interesting. For this to be successful we need the help or our colleagues by perhaps having them recognise automatable processes and getting the colleagues of the Robotics Competence Centre on board.

The example of robotics demonstrates: Digital transformation is not only about technology or IT – without a cultural transformation, it is unthinkable! I have faith in the inquisitiveness and openness of the colleagues and their desire to together tackle the opportunities that robotics and all the facets of digitisation offer.

I look very much forward to your comments, questions or suggestions.
Best regards, Mark Klein

Author: Mark Klein

Mark Klein is Chief Digital Officer ERGO Group and Chairman of the Board of Management of ERGO Digital Ventures AG. Here you find Mark Klein on LinkedIn.
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