Robotics revolutionises office work, too

Text: Kreetta Haaslahti Photos: Julia Hannula

Automation challenges us even more vehemently to ponder how we work at production facilities and offices. For example, already approximately 2,000 jobs are estimated to have been lost to automation in the insurance industry. In addition to industrial applications, robotics is constantly gaining a foothold in office automation as well. The Pori-based Festum Software Oy intends to participate in this conquest.

Festum Software focuses on the automation of financial administration and business processes. The company has offices in Pori and Vantaa and it currently employs 28 people.
- One of our new growth areas is process automation with the help of software robotics. Previously, we emphasised the utilisation of the multi-channel approach and smart technology – nowadays that approach accompanies communication between information systems with the help of software robotics, says Jorma Messo, Business Director at Festum Software Oy.

We are talking about big data and the utilisation of massive amounts of data.
– We place a keen focus on this kind of automation by continuously training our staff and collaborating with the leading international players in this field.

Machine work for machines

A software robot is an application that works like a person by repeating various tasks via interfaces in different programs. In practice, it automates routines such as data entry, data retrieval and merging without interfaces between applications.
- The use of robots is based on instructions. In other words, the system shows how tasks are performed in different programs. Robots learn and repeat tasks, asking experts for advice when needed.

Tasks that are cheaper, faster and error-free when completed by robots, should be handed over to machines, whether they are industrial or software robots. 
- Of course, employees' roles will change. People can focus on listening, understanding and other tasks that require expertise while machines take care of routine tasks.

Automation – even of long chains

Particularly robotics makes the work of service centres easier, especially in financial or personnel management. When new employees are recruited, the payroll, HR and access control receive information about the new person automatically instead of several people entering information into the system. Salary details are collected and calculated automatically, the processing of receipts and payables will become automated and details for reporting can be collected from various Excel files and systems even faster than before.
– If we include the Internet of Things (IoT) as well, we can automate fairly long operational chains.

For example, if a smart boat motor connected to the internet detects a failure, it can automatically order a spare part to the next port. The order is automatically received, the shipment is automatically dispatched from an automatic warehouse and a courier delivers the spare part to the customer.  
– At the same time, the software robot has taken care of order processing, invoicing and placement of an order with a supplier to get a new spare part in the warehouse.

Better service and competitiveness

As an example of integration with smart devices, Messo brings up the technology already incorporated in the new A8 models manufactured by Audi. 
– The car's info screen brings to the dashboard real-time information based on location and the driver's preferences of, for example, nearby services or weather forecasts. In the future, it may even book maintenance appointments, reserve a temporary rental car and enter the booking in its owner's calendar. 
– The same technology can even be used to automate the daycare application process for children. Parents fill out an electronic application form, after which a robot verifies the information, adds details if needed and compares the application to the current availability. Applicants instantly receive a notification on whether their desired daycare has availability and what the alternative options are.

In addition to increased efficiency, robotics gives new kinds of opportunities to sales, when the concept of big data and social media are combined with company data. 
– For example, a bank can follow car and residence sales ads online and compare the details to their lists of customers. Based on these details, it is easy to offer loans, investment advice or insurance policies. In the future, it will be possible to collect information about the markets, demand and competition on a completely new level.