What is RPA in robotics?
Robotics is a branch of technology that deals with the design and manufacture of robots. A robot is a machine that can be programmed to carry out certain tasks automatically. Robotics has become increasingly important in recent years as businesses look for ways to automate repetitive tasks and improve efficiency. RPA, or robotic process automation, is a type of robotics that deals with the automation of high-volume, repeatable tasks that are otherwise performed by human workers. RPA robots are designed to mimic the actions of humans, making them well-suited for tasks such as data entry, form filling, and document management. RPA can provide significant benefits for businesses, including increased efficiency and accuracy, reduced costs, and improved compliance with regulations.
What RPA used for?
RPA is a technology that enables software to imitate the actions of a human user. This can include tasks such as opening and closing applications, typing and extracting data. RPA is typically used to automate repetitive, high-volume tasks that are error-prone or time-consuming, such as data entry or report generation. By automating these tasks, RPA can help to improve accuracy and efficiency while freeing up employees to focus on more value-added tasks. In addition, RPA can help to improve compliance by providing a clear audit trail of all actions taken. As a result, RPA is an increasingly popular tool for streamlining business processes.
What is robotic process automation?
Instead, software robots operating on a physical or virtual machine constitute the “robot” in robotic process automation.
According to Aaron Bultman, director of product at Nintex, “RPA is a sort of business process automation that allows anyone to write a set of instructions for a robot or ‘bot’ to perform.” “RPA bots can simulate most human-computer interactions, enabling them to reliably complete a large number of routine activities at high velocity and with minimal room for error.”
It is intended for that type of automation technology to sound dull in comparison to the robots seen in Hollywood. The ultimate goal of robotic process automation (RPA) is to eliminate human intervention from routine, repetitive, and boring computer-based tasks and processes in the workplace. To illustrate, consider the commonplace actions of copying and pasting or transferring files.
RPA automates routine tasks that were previously performed by humans; these tasks were often repetitive and time-consuming. This is another way in which RPA is expected to improve productivity in businesses.
Let’s rewind for a second and arm ourselves with some more precise descriptions of RPA. Use them to better understand RPA yourself, or to better explain it to coworkers, clients, or partners—especially when dealing with people who aren’t technically savvy.
5 ways to define RPA
- To paraphrase David Landreman, CPO at Olive: “In layman’s terms, RPA is the process through which a software bot combines a combination of automation, computer vision, and machine learning to automate repetitive, high-volume processes that are rule-based and trigger-driven.”
- Robotic process automation entails little more than giving a machine a list of boring, routine chores to complete. “If there are logical steps to executing a task, a bot will be able to repeat it,” says Vishnu KC, senior software analyst lead at ClaySys Technologies.
- “RPA is software that automates rules-based processes conducted on a computer,” explained Chris Huff, chief strategy officer of Kofax.
- “RPA is a sophisticated type of business process automation that can play back recordings of human actions on a computer and then carry them out automatically. In the words of Ivanti’s federal systems engineer Marcel Shaw: “It’s basically a clone robot.
- RPA’s purpose, in a nutshell, is to replace humans in their routine, monotonous duties. The software is designed to perform recurring duties in a wide variety of contexts. Eggplant’s chief operating officer Antony Edwards explained how the software is taught a multi-step, multi-application process.
Is that process a match for RPA?
It’s a different story to figure out which of your internal processes and workflows could benefit from RPA. However, some basic requirements are discussed here, and taking note of them can help you and your team better understand RPA and its potential applications. Furthermore, these criteria can be useful when talking about RPA implementation with non-technical coworkers in other parts of the organisation. One of the major types: tasks that involve substantial amounts of routine data entry performed by humans.
Olive’s chief strategy officer, Landreman, argues RPA is best for “high-human data processing” tasks. The majority of RPA applications are used to facilitate “repetitive functions or data-intensive processes where logic-based outputs are anticipated,” as stated by the software’s developers.
When evaluating potential RPA matches, Landreman recommends the following four fundamental checks:
- It’s important that the procedure adhere to set guidelines.
- The procedure needs to be scheduled to run on a recurring basis or triggered by a specific event.
- The procedure’s inputs and outputs must be specified.
- There needs to be enough work to go around.
What can RPA do? Example use cases and business processes
Think about how much of this kind of work is done in a field like finance: just managing receivables and payables has traditionally involved a lot of manual, repetitive work from experienced employees. To illustrate, Gartner predicts that 73% of corporate controllers will use some kind of RPA in their finance departments by 2020, up from 19% in 2018.
Data-intensive, rule-based, and repetitive procedures can also be found in more traditional company functions like customer service and human resources. Insurance and banking are two examples of specialised sectors that meet these criteria.
Eggplant’s chief operating officer Edwards provides a specific application: returns processing. Consider the last time you sent back an internet purchase you’d made and what it entailed for both you and the retailer. Those refunds aren’t really free of charge.
Manual returns processing is time-consuming and expensive. “With RPA, businesses can handle returns without increasing costs or introducing delays,” explains Edwards. To summarise, “RPA software can now handle the return, which entails a series of repetitive steps, including sending a message confirming receipt of the return, updating the inventory system, making the payment adjustment to the customer, ensuring that the internal billing system is updated, and so on.”
The processes required to return, example, a pair of shoes that didn’t quite fit, map rather nicely to Landreman’s criteria above, for both customer and business. There is a lot of volume, especially for retail organisations, because the return process is rule-based, has a specified trigger, is repeatable, has specific inputs (such as initiating the return and returning the merchandise) and outputs (such as your refund).
This is an essential procedure fraught with “opportunities” for waste, mistakes, and other problems. It’s boring, let’s be honest. That is exactly the kind of task that robotic process automation was designed to facilitate.
“The ability to automate [with RPA] allows workers to switch their focus to more thoughtful and meaningful work while also eliminating data-entry errors that can damage processing times, compliance, and the overall customer experience,” Huff from Kofax says.
Benefits of RPA
What other advantages does RPA have besides those we have already discussed in the realms of finance, customer service, and human resources? DevOps Institute’s Chief Research Analyst Eveline Oehrlich suggests imagining how productive your company could be if its IT department were given back some of their time.
The promise for increased productivity offered by RPA is “too promising to ignore,” Oerlich says.
It’s important to remember that many providers offer free trials so you may observe RPA in action before committing, and to reassure naysayers that improved technology doesn’t necessarily mean robots are taking away jobs.
The question is, why do you two not agree? Unlike a deep neural network, RPA does not improve over time. According to our findings, RPA bots “usually won’t be able to figure it out on their own” if something changes in the automated process, such as a field in a web form moving locations.
Even if you adopt that view, there is still a connection between RPA and AI, and it’s growing.
Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions that enhance and mimic human judgement and behaviour complement RPA technologies that copy rules-based human behaviours, according to Kofax’s Huff. Just as conventional “white-collar” knowledge-based workers and “blue-collar” service-based workers interact as the engine to drive productivity for a business, so do the two technologies.
Jane.ai’s head of artificial intelligence research and development, Dave Costenaro, has seen that robotic process automation (RPA) improves as it is used in tandem with AI tools.
Specifically, “the now emerging AI technologies, notably deep neural networks, are introducing brand-new capabilities to the RPA toolkit, primarily in vision and language tasks,” says Costenaro. These characteristics allow for enabling RPA workflows at decision nodes, which was previously impossible. As a result, an algorithm can “see” the big picture of a document or image and use that to guide its subsequent processing and routing.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and the ever-increasing capacity to analyse complicated data are emulating human decision-making, as Oerlich points out.
This allows for more rapid decision making and removes the possibility of prejudice from human decision makers.