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GCN : January and February 2017
BUILDING BOTS FOR GOVERNMENT IT A revolution is underway that empowers bots and end users — and frees IT workers to focus on more complex challenges By Paul McCloskey G overnment agencies and systems integrators are moving into an era of streamlined applications and workforce ef- ficiency, thanks to new tools for capturing data and re- placing key software-based business processes. At the heart of that revolution is the adoption of software ro- bots and other tools that automate basic business applications and processes and save agencies from having to build the applications themselves. By consolidating the steps for carrying out thousands of basic processes — managing email or creating spreadsheets, for exam- ple — and having bots carry out those tasks, agencies stand to reap considerable savings. “This is not just a modest improvement of the status quo,” said John Timar, vice president of worldwide sales and business devel- opment at TerraGo, a mobile-computing software firm that serves government agencies. “Rather, it is a completely disruptive innova- tion that dramatically lowers the cost of fielding high-end, tailored software solutions.” The tools for creating the bots to perform software integrations have evolved from a subset of artificial intelligence advances called robotic process automation. RPA is designed to make it easier for technology and business managers to use bots to automate interconnected activities, such as the procurement and invoicing processes that many govern- ment agencies use. It can also automate processes such as driver’s license registrations, license renewals and background verifica- tions — all of which can go much faster because bots typically outperform people at such tasks. “RPA provides you with a very simple way to automate a lot of transactions that humans are doing today so that bots can take GCN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 • GCN.COM 15 0217gcn_014-017.indd 15 2/1/17 3:45 PM
October and November 2016