What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

RPA - Robotic Process Automation

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the use of digital robots (bots) to perform repetitive tasks previously performed by people.

Most RPA tools run on standalone workstations and are trained to perform routine tasks like moving rows from a database to a spreadsheet. While individual robots focus only on simple tasks, together they generate many benefits. As part of an organization ‘s business process management (BPM) strategy , RPA can play a key role in increasing the efficiency of operations.

Uses and Advantages of RPA Software

The term “robotic process automation” may feel like we’re talking about something like the mechanization of work in a factory, but it’s about the use of digital robots (bots). RPA automates repetitive tasks that would previously require human actions, including simple jobs like entering entries into a form and more complex jobs like customer service and troubleshooting.

A common RPA use case is to automate data transfer interactions between siled applications. The robot works in the same user interface as people and simulates actions such as clicking, copying and pasting.

One of the main advantages of RPA is simplicity. Typically, an end user can train and deploy a robot without needing to have development skills. This robot can be put into operation immediately, 24 hours a day, at a very low cost. RPA solutions are low risk and typically yield a high return on investment.

Generally, RPA solutions are divided into two categories: assisted and unassisted.

Assisted RPA robots

Assisted RPA robots run locally on a workstation and perform front-office activities. They need human supervision but can be triggered by system events.

Unattended RPA robots

Unattended robots manipulate business data in the background on back-end servers. Since they don’t need human intervention, they can be triggered by events or scheduled to run.

How do RPA and business process management work together?

RPA promises to increase the efficiency of teams, freeing employees from routine and time-consuming tasks so they can focus on the most relevant work.

As such, it is perfect for a business process management (BPM) automation strategy. 

BPM is the practice of modeling, analyzing and optimizing end-to-end business processes to meet strategic objectives. Its methodology can be applied to repetitive, predictable or already running tasks and processes.

BPM aims to replace ad-hoc workflow management practices with optimized business operations to improve the quality of solutions and services. It is an ongoing process that generates improvements over time.

With an automation approach that includes BPM and RPA, you can completely optimize and improve business processes.

What is the relationship between RPA and artificial intelligence (AI)?

Digital RPA robots and artificial intelligence may look like similar technologies – especially now that more and more AI capabilities are being integrated into RPAs. However, most RPA robots today do not have the ability to learn and improve artificial intelligence characteristics.

RPA robots are trained to follow a series of repetitive, rules-based tasks. Usually, they don’t learn during this process. When something changes in the automated task, a typical RPA robot does not recognize the change and needs to be retrained.

But there are cases where RPA and AI complement each other. For example, the use of a deep neural network to recognize images during decision making in an RPA process. There are more and more solutions that attempt to combine AI’s decision-making capabilities with RPA’s productivity improvements.

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