NICE Robotic Automation Review

Connectivity with other programs is a strong point although there are bugs that need attention

What is our primary use case?

We use it for automating processes, of course. We use it quite a lot in our contact centers, as well as within finance, IT, HR, etc. So it's used in quite a lot of departments. Our biggest use case is the robotics area, not desktop automation.

Our deployment model is on-prem.

We have both unattended and attended robots. We have an unattended robot for canceling orders from customers. They fill in a webform and the webform triggers the robots and the robots cancel orders in any systems where we need them canceled. No workers touch that process in any way. The customer receives an email, in the end, indicating whether it succeeded or not. That is completely robotic. 

The attended bots are more in our contact centers, for desktop automation. A customer calls in and asks about their order number, for instance. The agent enters it into our automation and the automation itself finds all the information that's in our systems and displays it to the agent.

How has it helped my organization?

Using NICE, we've reduced quite a lot of man-hours and saved a lot of money already, with the automations we have running now. One of the automations deals with canceling customers' orders. We have it live in six countries and, in four weeks' time, we have saved about 500 man-hours with it, processing over 4,000 requests. Of those, 2,500 were successfully canceled, and the rest were not because the status of the order was too advanced, so we couldn't cancel it anymore. Only about five percent failed because of the robot itself. So that is quite a high success rate. In those four weeks it has saved us about €14,500, from just that one process. It has substantial value.

There are quite a number of similar examples. One that is specific to the organization is creating a case. If a customer calls in, normally the agent would go into that case and do it manually, of course. Now, they still need to fill in some information, but the robot itself will pick it up afterward. That one just went live and is still a work in progress.

We also have a refund robot. If a customer cancels his order and he has already paid for it, we need to refund his money, of course. In just our UK operation, for instance, they have about 4,000 such requests a month. That process will save six or eight minutes for each one.

The solution also definitely reduces the number of systems our employees need to know or need to eventually touch, so it has increased employee productivity and accuracy. It reduces employee errors because a robot will never make a mistake filling something in, whereas agents do that - sometimes quite a lot. It definitely helps with user errors. I would estimate it has reduced errors by 60 to 80 percent, as that is the percentage of cases that are now being created with the help of NICE. It fills in the data the way we want it. There is still a chance of human error because a human still triggers it. But once the robot touches it, it fills it in the way we want it to and the data quality is going up quite signficantly.

I would also say that customer satisfaction will go up because we now provide self-service tools, something we did not have previously. From a customer-service-agent perspective, satisfaction will probably go up as well because agents should be done quicker with their calls with the customer. And that, in turn, should make the customer happier too.

As far as employee satisfaction goes from automating routine processes, it's hard to know because a lot of factors weigh in. It's not only the automation area that influences a worker's satisfaction. But I would say "yes," because automation will take away the boring, time-consuming tasks, the repetitive tasks, from their desks and give them to a robot, so employees can focus on other stuff.

What is most valuable?

The ability to capture screens and do whatever you want with them is one of the most valuable features.

Also, I haven't seen a lot of issues with the connectivity of NICE. The program, itself, is able to connect to quite a lot, and that's their strong point. At times the connectivity has not been stable, but that's probably more due to the systems we use. We've had quite good support from NICE to build some custom DLLs to get the connectivity working, because we use a lot of programs that are built in-house, so no other company has them. But they managed quite well with that. We haven't had any issues as far as I know. Beyond that, their library of programs to connect to is quite big. Currently, we're mainly focusing on the stuff that we have built in-house, so I haven't really tried the rest of it, but from what I hear and read, it's quite good.

Data collection is also valuable, if you know how to use it. It's quite tricky but can come in handy if you need it.

What needs improvement?

Community-wise, NICE is not really big, especially if you compare it with competitors like UiPath, which is the biggest right now in terms of community. NICE opened their Dojo, their learning platform, for us as we are an enterprise client, so we can use that. I don't know how it is for other customers, but I can imagine it's quite hard to find any documentation about NICE or how about how to use the tool, so that that can be improved.

In version 6.6 there are some bugs, and sometimes it's shaky when you touch stuff. For example, you can't undo something with one particular function; you'll break everything. There are some bugs in there that could be fixed, but you'll probably have that in any software you use.

For how long have I used the solution?

Personally, I've been using NICE for about three years now, and our organization has been using it for almost six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been good.

It can be hard to determine if an issue is the NICE solution or the way we installed it. It might be that because the installation of the previous version was done by one of our employees himself, he missed some settings. And that was the reason we asked NICE to support us, so that we have a correct installation from their end. So it's quite hard for me to determine whether it's the NICE platform, v6.6, that is buggy, or if it is because of the installation.

In the designer itself, there are a few bugs which are known about by NICE. If you look at the robotic queue, for instance, sometimes it takes some time before the robot picks up tasks. I'm not sure if that's because of the installation or because of the version that we have right now.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is good. Because we have the enterprise agreement, we have unlimited licenses so that's not an issue on our end. Scaling up is not an issue.

How are customer service and technical support?

Personally, I haven't reached out to NICE tech support a lot, but from what I've heard from my colleagues, if we have any issues we post a ticket in their system and they pick it up quite quickly. The support from their end is okay. When we have issues with our locally-developed systems, we reach out to them and they help us with support of the DLL or fixing other things. Their tech support is quite okay.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

NICE is the only automation program that we've used in this organization. Before that, it was VBA macros, really low-profile. Because we have a lot of repetitive costs, we needed to have more efficiency. Eventually, we need to save money as well. There are a lot of use cases for RPA in the organization.

NICE is way easier to scale up than VBA macros. You build it once and you can roll it out to any user or country that you want, as long as the process is the same. For that, it definitely has an impact.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't involved in the initial setup. As a company, we started with version 4.4 or something like that. We had that for about two years. Then we upgraded to 6.6 and we have had that for three to four years. We're going to 6.7, and that's been ongoing for about half a year.

We have NICE supporting us on the upgrade. They do the installation, they do the database setup, etc. They do everything, together with our Capgemini team.

What about the implementation team?

Capgemini is quite okay. As always, there are variations in quality that we get from them. They're quite broad in their knowledge, but sometimes it's not as specific as we need. But overall, it's okay.

What was our ROI?

I'm still working on our overall ROI. Ideally we want to have the costs in there as well, the total NICE costs, the licenses and all the hardware that we need for it.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I wasn't here from the start, so I don't know what we actually paid for all the licenses.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There has been an assessment, where they assessed all the big solutions: UiPath, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, and NICE. I wasn't involved in the assessment, but NICE came out on top. I don't know where they assessed on, but from that assessment, they decided to go with NICE.

What other advice do I have?

If I look only at accounts, we have about 80 robotic accounts. They don't all have solutions running but we have the accounts. We have about 200 people working in each of our contact centers, on average, and we have about 20 such sites.

We're working hard on rolling out new solutions because it's not being used as much as we want it to be. The background is that we started developing a lot of desktop automation solutions which, looking back at it, was not the right way to do it. It's probably better to start with robotic solutions because they are easier to maintain. You don't have the human error, etc. We lost quite a lot of time in that area. So we're trying to scale up as much as possible.

The biggest lesson we've learned from using NICE is to pick the right process to automate. That's more general advice, of course, which applies to any automation program. But as I mentioned, we lost a lot of time by looking into the wrong process. You need to know what is possible with the program and what the best way to do it is and what is the best process to automate. From my experience, managers pick the biggest process there is, because it saves a lot of money, but nine out of ten times it's better to pick a smaller process which you can automate way faster. Developing a solution for half a year is not really worth it.

Also, find good developers and, when you roll out a solution, you need to have your hyper-care in place. You need to train your people because there could be quite a big change involved. You need to do change management quite well, because it will impact your coworkers' way of working of course. They can have a feeling that they're no longer necessary, so you need to make sure that they don't get that feeling. You need to make sure your coworkers are still happy with the solution.

We have not yet used the Nice Employee Virtual Assistant (NEVA). It's only in 7.0 and we don't have that version. I've seen it at conferences in presentations, but we can't use it right now. Not yet. Similarly, we have not used the Automation Finder to identify processes best suited for automation because it's also in 7.0.

User-friendly-wise, I'm quite okay with it, personally. You need to learn any automation program. Whether you learn NICE or UiPath or Automation Anywhere, it doesn't really matter. You need to learn it.

I would rate NICE at seven out of ten, overall. There's room for improvement. I'm only looking at the version that we have, of course. I can't talk about 7.0, but in the robotics area, the robotic control room in 6.6 is not perfect. I know they improved it with 6.7 and 7.0. Overall, NICE is a good solution.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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