RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is based on setting instructions and rules for a bot to follow to complete a certain repetitive, mundane, and time-consuming computer-based task. RPA bots work directly from a computer applications’ user interface, mimicking human actions, including logging in and out, copying and pasting data from and into different systems, opening emails and attachments, filling out forms, and interacting with multiple applications at once.
Let’s take an example of a retail store that takes complaints via email. Instead of a human having to open the email, read it, open any attachments, extract customer and complaint information into an ERP system and then send the details to a manager who will decide to escalate the situation or not, an RPA bot can do all the mentioned steps in seconds to multiple complaint emails at once, saving labor costs and time.
What are the benefits of Robotic Process Automation?
It’s very accurate and precise, with less of a chance to make human errors like typos. RPA also has a low barrier to entry, as programming skills are not necessary to configure an RPA bot. It can be facilitated through softwares, such as UiPath and Automation Anywhere, that offer a drag-and-drop user experience. RPA bots are also compliant and only follow instructions that they have been configured to follow. Another benefit is that RPA is non-invasive technology, meaning that it does not require any changes to your existing software and can be deployed as an underlying layer of technology.
With the correct use, RPA bots can improve employee morale and experience, as employees can be tasked to other responsibilities more suited to their talents and not spend time on mundane tasks. This eventually also leads to increased productivity within a company, as employee morale improves and RPA bots efficiently run through tasks that used to take hours, in minutes. Lastly, RPA bots are reliable and can work 24/7 around the clock, enabling a consistent and efficient business process.
So is Robotic Process Automation considered artificial intelligence? No, let’s take a deeper look into the matter. AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by computer systems. These include learning (acquiring information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using context and rules to reach conclusions), and self-correction (learning from both successes and failures). Applications of AI include image recognition, machine vision, speech recognition, chatbots, natural language generation, and sentiment analysis.
While RPA is used to work in conjunction with people by automating repetitive “attended” processes, AI is viewed as a form of technology to replace human labor and automate end-to-end, otherwise known as unattended automation. RPA uses structured inputs and logic, while AI uses unstructured inputs and develops its logic. Combining both RPA and artificial intelligence can create a fully autonomous process.
Since organizations have both structured data (e.g., form fields) and unstructured data (e.g. natural speech), many processes require both RPA and AI to fully automate a process from end to end or to improve a robotic process once it has been deployed.