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Using Robotic Process Automation for competitor research

By August 19, 2019

Successful businesses invest considerable time and resources in determining what their competitors are up to. What are they selling? What strategies and tactics have they implemented? What’s trending? Organizations need data and business intelligence to answer these important questions.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a relatively new tool that offers a more efficient and cost-effective way to gather business intelligence than traditional market research techniques. Let’s take a look at its practical implications.

Read more: How RPA is changing your role in the workplace

RPA in a nutshell

When you implement RPA, you train “bots” to perform the same sequences of tasks that your employees perform on their computers. These aren’t physical robots like the ones on manufacturing assembly lines or on your favorite sci-fi show. Bots are snippets that wait for an email, online sale, alert, or other digital event, and then they compare their training instructions with the situation at hand to decide what to do.

For example, a bot can be trained to check incoming emails for purchase orders, automatically process orders under $1,000, and send larger orders to a person for approval. Bots accurately type, click, copy, paste, compare values, and navigate through web pages and other software up to fifteen times faster than humans… and they cost much less.

You can even integrate bots with voice and handwriting recognition, natural language processing engines, chatbots, machine learning solutions, and other software to expand their abilities into territory that was considered “humans-only” when this decade began. Your talent workforce will spend less time copying and collecting information, and will have more time to drive sales, craft creative business solutions, and perform other tasks that add increased value to your organization.

Using bots for competitor analysis

How does your business determine product pricing today? Among other factors, you need to discover the going rate for similar products on the market. Smaller companies that sell a handful of products might not find it difficult to monitor their competitors’ pricing. However, larger businesses that sell thousands of products and have ten, twenty, or even hundreds competitors can’t track their competition manually. RPA is an excellent solution for helping you obtain competitor data, optimize pricing, and improve profitability as changes arise.

Instead of directing a small team of employees to visit multiple competitors’ websites to determine what they’re selling and for how much, you can train a bot to do the same thing, except much faster. A single bot can compile as much competitor research in a day as a team of ten or more human workers. Since bots don’t need rest, they operate around the clock, which is especially useful for international organizations.

Using RPA eliminates the need for your talent workers to painstakingly compare your prices for hundreds of items against your competitors’. Bots can also identify products that are currently trending so you can source, manufacture, and market your wares to maximum effect.

The importance of choosing the right RPA implementation partner

Working with an experienced RPA implementation partner will help you quickly move from piloting your first bot to automating most of your organization’s repetitive manual tasks. Choose a team of experts that can help you extract the most benefit from your bots instead of offering half measures.

For example, a less experienced RPA partner might train a bot to email you whenever a product’s price changes on a competitor’s website, leaving you to compile reports by yourself. They might even collect competitors’ price updates in an Excel spreadsheet, but that still doesn’t take full advantage of what RPA offers. A competent RPA implementation partner will train bots to automatically send price updates to your ERP system or enterprise reporting solution, which will allow you to review price fluctuations and other trends via a dynamic dashboard.

Partnering with a technology provider that’s intimately familiar with your industry will help increase ROI and process efficiency. Visionet can help your organization build a strong foundation for future RPA implementations. For more information about implementing an RPA solution, contact Visionet for a complimentary session with one of our experts.