What Is Digital Process Automation (DPA)?

What Is Digital Process Automation (DPA)

What is digital process automation?

Digital process automation (DPA) is the use of advanced technologies to execute complex business processes from beginning to end, with and without human participation.


Researchers studying digital process automation (DPA) have developed competing terms for this emerging field. Digital process automation technology—and the language used to describe it—has simply moved too fast to have established conventions, at least so far. For this reason, you may see DPA referred to as:

DPA streamlines business processes using advanced technology, including Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Business Process Management (BPM), and Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI technologies involved include (but are not limited to) machine learning, computer vision, predictive analytics, and Natural Language Processing (NLP).

This combination of technologies allows for automation of many use cases that were not previously possible; it also greatly reduces the amount of exception handling required.

The goal of DPA: to free up human workers so they can complete higher-value tasks.


DPA optimizes human contributions to core business goals while orchestrating people and automated systems into a seamless whole, with proven results (see examples below).

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The Difference Between Robotic Process Automation, Business Process Management, and Digital Process Automation

To understand how DPA platforms accomplish these goals, it helps to understand the technologies and how they work together to automate complex processes from beginning to end.


Robotic process automation involves the use of “bots”—software trained to automate rules-based tasks through existing software applications. These tasks are often very repetitive and time-consuming, and would typically be completed by a human. Bots work sort of like people work, accessing user interfaces in a variety of digital systems—and thereby avoiding code-heavy custom integrations.

For instance, a bot may go through your email, identify invoices, copy relevant data from those invoices, and paste that data into accounting software and an ERP—all without accessing the back-end code of any of those systems. Having bots do these tasks frees up time for the people that were doing them. RPA bots automate individual activities within a process, not entire processes themselves.


Most business processes consist of strings of individual tasks, often including human participation or review. Business process management (BPM) is the practice of automating and orchestrating these complex end-to-end processes.

You might use a BPM system to fully automate a multi-step business process, whether that’s tracking shipments or approving loans. Tasks can be assigned to an individual role or queue and tracked and reported on from end to end. A BPM system—like the Control Center on the Nividous platform—can also be used to orchestrate the workflow for a complete enterprise process that consists of tasks performed by humans and tasks performed by RPA bots. It can also be used to:

  • Trigger bot actions on local and remote systems
  • Notify human participants to complete a task
  • Allow human participants to record a completed task
  • Track every step of the process
  • Provide detailed, customized dashboards and reporting

While BPM is related to DPA, DPA does not require the same level of human intervention BPM does.

Long story short: DPA leverages a combination of RPA, BPM, and AI. The latter continues to evolve, allowing DPA to help turn more forms of information into structured data easily. With DPA, organizations can address problems including high error-rate, low customer satisfaction, poor employee engagement, and high turnover by improving efficiencies organization-wide.

DPA in Action: 3 Example Use Cases

DPA has countless use cases—let’s take a closer look at three in particular.

Use Case #1: Data Management

Using human workers to manually isolate, capture, and transfer data between systems is unnecessarily time- and labor-intensive. With DPA, businesses of all kinds can automate data extraction to increase productivity and conserve resources.

A good example of this is one specialty healthcare organization’s process automation. Before the automation, ten team members were consistently occupied with manually extracting and reviewing patient data. This data was unstructured, contained in multiple formats, and high volume. Manual data management facilitated errors and resulted in delayed claim filings.

Using Nividous Bots with cognitive capabilities to automate data extraction, review, and claim submission end-to-end, the provider reduced manual work by 80% with DPA, resulting in a 65% increase in productivity and a 45% decrease in operational costs.

Use Case #2: Accounts Payable

The accounts payable (AP) process involves multiple steps that are highly adaptable to automation.

DPA can be used to automate a range of manual AP tasks, including touchless invoice processing, invoice data entry, two-way and three-way purchase order matching, and invoice/AP approval processes. In fact, manually processing one invoice can cost as much as $23. With automation, the process cost can be reduced to $4—a savings of 80%.

Small to mid-sized companies across industries (from consumer goods to media) can leverage DPA to significantly reduce manual work and enhance business performance. Case in point: When a premier accounting advisory firm implemented Nividous RPA Bots with AI capabilities, BPM, and embedded analytics, it improved its client invoice validation process turnaround time by 85% and reduced errors by 100%).

Use Case #3: Underwriting

The underwriting process is most often characterized by rigorous due diligence. From financial and legal validations to operations checks, underwriting performed by human workers requires substantial time and energy. Using DPA, financial services companies and insurance providers can streamline and improve the process dramatically.

Consider an insurance company that, prior to deploying intelligent automation, relied on 25 full-time workers to perform hundreds of validations manually in an error-prone and tedious process requiring several business days. With RPA Bots and Smart Bots (the latter with Computer Vision-based Optical Character Recognition capabilities), Nividous DPA saved the company 6,000 hours of staff time per month and raised throughput by 75%, dramatically increasing business value.

How To Get Started With Digital Process Automation

By streamlining work and freeing staff from rote tasks, DPA has shown powerful benefits, including:

  • Heavily reduced back-office costs
  • Higher productivity and more efficient operation
  • Greater data accuracy across the board
  • More valuable staff utilization
  • Faster turnaround for customer-facing processes
  • Increased customer satisfaction

The Nividous DPA platform can bring these benefits to your operation, whether the goal is to simply eliminate manual data entry or fully automate your accounts payable (or other) processes. Talk to us to see if DPA offers a solution for your workflow bottlenecks—or schedule a demo to see the Nividous DPA platform in action.

Once you determine that DPA is right for you, you’ll probably need to prove a business value to fellow decision-makers. The Nividous Quick Start program is the ideal next step. Our team works with you to deploy a customized RPA bot in just three or four weeks for a fixed price. That first RPA bot proves the value of full digital process automation in terms that everyone can understand—an easily discernible return on investment.

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