What is RPA? Everything you need to know about Robotic Process Automation


Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been around for several years, but as newer software platforms and services are being delivered this form of automation is becoming more widely adopted.

Despite all the apocalyptic soothsaying about robotics and automation bringing forward the end of jobs as we know them, there is a strong case for these new technologies being put to work to complement rather than supplant our daily work.

A survey conducted by OnePoll for Ultima found that 77 percent of business respondents are likely to use RPA to automate mundane and transactional tasks, while 56 percent say it frees up staff time to focus on more strategic work. Read on for what RPA is and why it matters.

What is RPA & How does it work?

RPA is a form of business process technology, which is governed by software robots (bots) or artificial intelligence. It can be used in a number of ways, typically to gather and interpret applications and systems data.

The RPA systems are integrated into a business to develop an action list. This is done by watching a performance of the task in the application’s graphical user interface (GUI), which RPA then repeats directly into the GUI. Therefore, RPA tools can be used to automate any interactions with the GUI.

Read next: How BP drives automation at scale across supply and trading business

Uses of RPA vary from simply delivering automated email responses, to handling other mundane tasks across a business. The software tends to sit on top of an organisation's IT infrastructure so it can be implemented quickly and easily without changing the existing systems.

There are three stages to implementing RPA in an organisation. These usually are the initial proof of concept, the pilot, and the leverage phase, all of which are important to get right to see the benefits in adopting RPA.

Different types of RPA

According to Capgemini, there are three types of robots for the different process automation roles that organisations tend to require.

Although they are all known as RPA, each is selected depending on the processes or tasks the organisation wants the robots to handle.

There are 'probots', which process data, 'knowbots' to gather and store data, and 'chatbots' which act as virtual agents to respond to customer queries in real time.

What are the benefits of RPA?

As mentioned above, RPA offers a range of benefits for organisations and employees in different ways.

The main benefit that organisations tend to go after is the bots handling mundane and repetitive tasks, which then create cost savings as well as enabling processes to be completed more quickly.

In addition to these, other benefits include dismissing human error, enabling better customer service and providing improved efficiency for customers.

RPA is typically adopted in customer interaction and data management departments such as customer service, accounting, healthcare, human resources and supply chain management.

Scalability, reliability, speed and intelligence are the top features to look for when adopting RPA in an organisation.

Who are the top RPA vendors?

There are a number of vendors that specialise in the field, depending on what you are after.

Here are some suggestions:

Automation Anywhere– a well-known RPA vendor which provides an enterprise platform where software bots work with employees to handle repetitive tasks

UiPath– provides an open enterprise and IT RPA platform to automate business processes across the front and back-office operations.

EdgeVerve – offers automated assistance to organisations for improved business processes.

Blue Prism– claims to have invented the term Robotic Process Automation, Blue Prism offers a software platform to help organisations develop a digital workforce while making business operations more agile and cost-effective.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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