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RPA encompasses software tools not to be confused with AI

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What is RPA

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) encompasses software tools that partially or fully automate human activities; usually those which are manual, rule-based and monotonously repetitive. This variant of automation must not be confused with AI, which differs as it can learn and grow without human input. RPA is there to assist workforces rather than replace them. It liberates employees to focus on either more intuitive tasks or those that lead to greater business benefits.

Automating workflows through the RPA catapults businesses into the digital age.

How it works

The way RPA works is quite easy: by pulling data from the relevant location, RPA can enter the same applications, traverse the same interfaces, and populate the same data-fields as a human worker. Employees working on computers who were previously clicking, copy and pasting or filling in databases – mainly administration and data-manipulation tasks – find themselves unshackled.

Pros and Cons

RPA frees labour, allowing employees to prioritise and devote more time to serving customers or other high-value work, which brings about further efficiencies. Regarding employees themselves, increased job satisfaction is reported as the automaton is separated from the human.A big relief for IT departments will be that existing tools and IT infrastructure aren’t altered by introducing RPA. RPA is versatile enough to be used in a business of any size, from startups to global enterprises.

Set-up costs may be a tough pill to swallow initially, but it won’t be long until businesses begin seeing a decent return on their investment, due to increased productivity and reduced errors. If anything changes with the interface, or in fact, any aspect of the legacy application that the automation software is navigating, it can break. RPA, for all the genius in the simplicity of its processes, can only deal with a restricted range of tasks. As it isn’t self-learning, it needs rules to follow, and therefore, as rules and systems are updated, RPA has a shelf-life.

Evolution of RPA in merging with AI

Still as of today RPA is a deterministic type of technology. Deploying RPA is merely the first step towards change. Automating a process solves only the problem at hand, rather than the fundamental method. Using RPA alongside other digitisation tools can form better processes which have a lasting effect. Here, vendors are beginning to do the hard work for us by integrating RPA with AI and machine learning to open up new possibilities. The maturation of RPA is seeing it converge with other technologies, namely AI and machine learning, opening up a wealth of further possibilities and allowing it to enter the mainstream.

The future merging of RPA and AI will finally activate decision making tasks.