Robotic Process Automation



What Is It?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an automation technology that uses computer software as a robot, to capture and analyze applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses, and communicating with other digital systems.  It is an emerging form of automation of business processes that relies on software robots or artificial intelligence. Such software robots would be able to emulate and integrate human actions and interactions with digital systems while executing a business process.

Robotic Process Automation

These robots replicate the way humans capture data and manipulate applications using a user interface.  They are used to perform a vast variety of repetitive tasks by interpreting, triggering responses, and communicating with other systems.  

How Is It Different From Other Automation Technologies?

The tools used for RPA are very similar to the graphical user interfaces (GUI) of testing tools.  These tools can also automate the interactions with the GUI by repeating a set of actions as demonstrated by the user.  Actions like receiving an email with an attached invoice, extracting the data, and then typing that into a ledger for accounts, can be automated using a RPA.  Some of the differences that make RPA standout from other automation systems are:

  • It allows organizations to automate processes at a fraction of the cost and time compared to other technologies.
  • It is absolutely non-intrusive in nature.
  • It maximizes the use of existing infrastructure without disrupting the existing systems.
  • It is more cost efficient and has no compliance issues.


How Can It Be Used?

RPA can be used to automate any process that is labor intensive, involving high-volume work and involves highly transactional process functions.  The cost and time advantages offered by RPA would boost organizational capabilities and save money and time with robotic process automation software.  The can be used to cover the entire gamut of business processes like IT support, workflow, remote infrastructure, and back-office work accurately.  This results in increased productivity and helps remove people from dull, repetitive tasks. RPA systems learn tasks by watching a human perform that task, using the application’s GUI.  They then automate such tasks by repeating those tasks directly in the GUI, thereby lowering barriers to the use of automation in products and services that might not be designed for automation.  Therefore, RPA robots can mimic many, if not most, human user actions like logging into applications, move files and folders, cut, copy and paste data, fill forms, extract structured and semi-structured data from documents, scrape browsers, and much more.

Giving Organizations The Edge

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RPA offers technologically superior solutions to global businesses, which will result in substantial cost-cutting.  Organizations embracing automation, whether in-house or outsourced, will stand to gain significantly by way of reduced costs, higher efficiency, and improved quality.  Some of the areas where RPA would give an edge to early adopters are listed below:

  • Process automation
  • IT support and management
  • Automated assistant

Automation of these areas would enable organizations to reap the following benefits:

  • Better accuracy
  • Improved compliance
  • Faster cost-savings
  • Vastly improved scalability
  • Increased speed and productivity
  • Faster returns on investment
  • Improved customer service in the front-office

What Are The Risks Involved?

RPA has given a huge edge to businesses by dramatic cost reductions.  However, there are several risks associated in adopting this technology.   These are listed below:

  • Stifling innovation
  • Increasing the complexity of maintenance of existing software
  • It is seen as a possible threat to the Business Process Outsourcing industry since RPA would enable organizations to move their offshore processes into local data centers.
  • The repatriation of outsourced offshore processes would result in fewer opportunities to low-skilled workers in those offshore locations.

Impact on Society

Taking a wholesome view of the effects of RPA on an organization’s profitability and productivity, we can arrive at the following understanding of the impact of RPA on the social environment:

  • Workers would be relieved from the drudgery of boring and monotonous work.
  • Being given more interesting work would result in better job satisfaction among workers.
  • Increased job satisfaction would result in increased productivity.
  • Increased productivity would lead to lowering of cost of goods and services.
  • Increase opportunities for personalization of services.

Should You Jump Onto The RPA Bandwagon?

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From the above discussion, it is evident that RPA is a revolutionary technology which would enhance the life of workers by ridding them of monotonous and repetitive tasks.  In other words, RPA would “take the robot out of the human” and allow them to be redeployed in more interpersonal roles and concentrate on the more meaningful portions of the day.

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