Robot typing on a keyboard
Courtesy of business.unsw.edu.au

The image above is a good metaphor for RPA. Though most people are looking forward to seeing intelligent humanoid robotic companions, they are still years away. However, software is already capable of using our keyboards and mouses just like we do. And that opens a wide range of possibilities

What is RPA?

There are quite a few RPA definitions out there:

Institute for Robotic Process Automation & Artificial Intelligence:

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a “robot” to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.

RPA provider Symphony:

any capability (software and services) that allows you to transact in any IT application or website, typically in the same way a human would, to automate complex, rule-based work

Wikipedia

Robotic process automation (or RPA or RPAAI) is an emerging form of clerical process automation technology based on the notion of software robots or artificial intelligence (AI) workers.

I think we provide the simplest definiton:

RPA is a generic tool to create specialized agents which can automate clerical tasks

 

As its definitions clarify, RPA is a very flexible tool. The more important step in understanding RPA is understanding how your business can use RPA. Browse our comprehensive list of RPA use cases in business to identify how your business can benefit from RPA.

Why do I need to know about RPA?

If you are part of a business that relies on any repetitive tasks, you need to know how RPA works. Your team and your customers would be grateful. Because the specialized agents that we explained above, can take on boring repetitive tasks even better than humans can.

Most non-tech companies have hundreds of repetitive processes that are too simple to be engaging for humans. Implementing RPA can increase your company’s efficiency and improve customer experience while allowing employees to work on meaningful tasks.

Why is RPA a thing when any system can provide automation?

RPA’s power lies in its 4 super powers:

  1. Flexibility: You can program an RPA bot to complete almost any repetitive task. Consider most daily jobs. Workers receive some input whether it is an email or a system notification. In response, they conduct a rule-based analysis and take an action like making changes on files or programs. An RPA bot is also capable of doing all of these things.
  2. Ease of integration: RPA bots do not need to be integrated with most software. Thanks to screen scraping and existing integrations, they can input and evaluate the output of almost all Windows applications.
  3. Ease of implementation: RPA can set up as simple as setting up a macro by recording your actions. There are also drag&drop interfaces for setting up automation. The next generation RPA bots, also called cognitive or intelligent automation, take this one step further, learning activities to be automated based on employee’s actions.
  4. Cost: Robots are cheaper than humans! Business process outsourcing solutions are no longer economical when those processes can be automated yielding better results and requiring less cost than outsourcing. However, BPO firms also smartly embraced RPA reducing their costs even further. So some BPO solutions can be considered as outsourced RPA solutions and they can be very efficient as they leverage a BPO’s economies of scale.

Unfortunately, none of possible alternatives to RPA can provide all of these. Now that you know what RPA is, read more on what RPA can do for your business depending on your industry or business function or get all your RPA related questions answered.

If you feel like you know enough about RPA, we can help you explore the right RPA vendors for your business or find any AI vendor to solve your business problems.

 

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