The global robotic process automation (RPA) market is expected to reach $22 billion by 2025, according to a new Forrester report. Let’s look at how the technical and business aspects of RPA which makes it the new dominant technology in town and strictly stay away from ethical aspects around labour force reduction.
Robotic Process Automation is the use of software robots, or “bots,” to automate repetitive, rules-based tasks within or between computer systems. These tasks are rule-based and usually done manually, so RPA serves the goal of automating operations.
The bots perform this work through existing user interfaces, so there is no need to construct original software integrations. RPA hence is different from other automation technologies such that it is a client side technology and not a server side technology working against user interface and not server api’s. This allows use of existing technologies with no change.
The Technology Behind RPA
The software used to create the bots is called a RPA authoring tool. RPA authoring tools expose application UI model as interactable interface to author user workflow.
Although RPA is marketed as an end user and is designed to replace human interaction with computer it requires some degree of skill to customize and define a flow. This is especially true to build the tool that cater to error scenarios, configurability and high level abstractions, because end users are seldom trained for abstract computer modelling.
Attended RPA vs. Unattended RPA
A RPA bot can be attended or unattended, which depends on the use case. Attended bots require some level of human intervention. They are often used in the front office and work alongside human workers and can still be triggered by system events.
Unattended RPA bots, on the other hand, do not need human intervention to complete their tasks and can be triggered by system events or programmed to run on a schedule. These bots works on enterprise data behind the scenes on back-end servers.
With a better grasp of what RPA is and what skills are needed, we attack where in an organization would RPA be helpful. RPA may be used to do any repetitive task that a human does for example
- Downloading and sending reports in an email
- Copying files from a remote location
- Reset passwords on requests
- Doing repetitive manipulation for example in a spreadsheet
- Automating QA
While RPA tools allow simple decision making and flow control they are not currently suited for areas that require creative input or high level of intelligence.
RPA journey begins with business defining process and a detailed workflow with errors and exceptions and scenarios. The process is then automated using an RPA tool. RPA tools depending upon features allow to be installed and used across central databases. They may be scheduled and time shared for example during business hours the RPA tool may respond working a HRMS while late at night may work on end of day process and closing.
As RPA tools work against existing applications there is no need to reconfigure or do any development for the same. Existing application may continue to work as is. This brings to the notion that a RPA software is different from other applications as it consumes or uses existing applications.
What are the Benefits Of RPA?
RPA delivers value to any business by:
- Boosting Productivity : RPA allows employees to focus on high value tasks that only they can do while leaving the repetitive task to be managed by the bots.
- Improve Efficiency to Generate Savings : With RPA speeding up processing times and reducing costly errors, processing costs decline and per-employee output increases.
- Hit Accuracy Goals with Reliable Consistency : Achieving 100% error-free data accuracy is within reach by automation eliminating errors on repetitive tasks
- Better Business Data Security : RPA provides opportunities for reducing the number of human touches businesses require to process personal information keeping the data secure.
- Creating Opportunities for Scale: RPA is a particular advantage in workflows with irregular volume, with RPA ability to scale up and down instantly to handle any volume of work.
- A Better Customer Service Experience: Customer service is a high-maintenance, high-commitment process that requires a large amount of time and attention from employees. By spending less time on rote administrative tasks, staff can turn their attention back to customers.