AiThority.com Primer on What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a fast-emerging business process automation technology. In the last 2-3 years, a large number of organizations have adopted RPA tools and technologies to automate more than fifty percent of their clerical and administrative tasks. According to a Deloitte Insights Report (2017), more than 64 percent of the organizations have embarked on the RPA journey, investing in RPA as either an enterprise-wide or strategic initiative.
To understand the RPA trends and their applications in the industry, we decided to feature an RPA primer in our AiThority.com Primer Series.
What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
Various Market Research companies and RPA vendors define RPA differently. However, all these definitions, more or less, intersect at a common juncture of AI, Automation, and Digital Transformation.
For this AiThority.com Primer article on RPA, we’ve picked definitions from the leading Market Intelligence sources and RPA software providers.
Breaking Down RPA: Robotic + Process+ Automation
Pegasystems defines Robotic process automation (RPA) as a set of applications that “enables organizations to effectively automate tasks, streamline processes, increase employee productivity, and ultimately deliver satisfying customer experiences.”
Robotic: Use of computers and machine-level intelligence, to
Process: Complete a series of repetitive tasks in a step-by-step manner, with
Automation: Zero or minimal any human intervention.
RPA, an Extension of the ‘Bots’ Workforce
According to Gartner, an RPA tool is automated workflow machinery that allows a user to configure one or more scripts (which some vendors refer to as “bots”) to activate specific keystrokes in an automated fashion.
According to Accenture, RPA is a human-computer technology that provides a virtual workforce to various business process teams.
Leading RPA solution provider, UiPath provides a more contemporary RPA definition. UiPath defines –
Robotic Process Automation is the technology that allows a user to configure computer software, or a “robot” to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting within digital systems to execute a business process.
UiPath calls the RPA implementation part of the ‘Hyperautomation’ project. Because of it’s non-invasive and non-intrusive in nature, RPA fortifies existing IT infrastructure without causing disruption to underlying systems, thereby saving costs of replacement and deployment.
In simple words, RPA merely simulates human actions into a robotic manipulation, controlled by a software application to ensure zero-error and continuous output.
Intelligent Automation platform, Kofax projects RPA as a vehicle to up-scale innovations and fully-leverage the current BPM and ECM applications.
Taking the Robot out of Human
According to a Mckinsey and Company blog, RPA is part of a larger family of technologies that are classified as part of the Intelligent Process Automation (IPA). RPA essentially takes the robot out of a human. RPA software mimics the human activity, leveraging a stream of Cognitive Intelligence and Automation techniques to carry out a ‘task within a process’.
Mckinsey says that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a Software Automation tool that automates routine tasks such as data extraction and cleaning through existing user interfaces. The robot has a user ID to perform rules-based tasks, such as: accessing email and systems, performing calculations, creating documents and reports, and checking files.
RPA, together with technology groups such as Machine Learning Analytics, AIOps, Natural Language Generation (NLG), Advanced Analytics, and Cognitive Agents/Neural Networking, has the capability to complete various complex tasks within a newly-framed IT infrastructure.
A Forbes blog uses a blanket term for RPA bots – Attended bots, and unattended bots.
Where is RPA Applied?
The RPA market was valued at USD 1545.57 million in 2019; this is projected to cross USD 7940.97 million by 2025.
Business teams handling global Business Services, Shared Services, Finance, Procurement, HR, Marketing and Communications, and Operations, Media and Entertainment, and others leverage varying levels of RPA to enhance their digital footprints using available user resources.
According to a report, RPA adoption is driven by the growing deployment of SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS offerings. These adoptions are visible across diverse industries for –
- Customer Relationship Management and Support
- Cloud Computing and ITOps
- AI ML Solutions
- Enterprise Resource Management
- Open-Source Resources
- Cooperative Robot Learning, and
- Network Connectivity
New-age marketplaces for Fintech, E-healthcare, Edutech, and Govtech are also considered as a developing-market for RPA solutions.
According to a recent report on RPA trends and applications,
How to Start with RPA Implementation?
RPA can be implemented step-by-step. Kofax has identified the RPA implementation process for users.
The first step toward Automation is identifying the processes that are the strongest candidates for RPA and Intelligent Automation.
These include processes such as –
- Quality control (43 percent),
- Technology enhancement (42 percent),
- Financial transactions/reporting (35 percent),
- CX (32 percent), and
- Delivery of products and services (32 percent).
Chris Huff, Chief Strategy Officer at Kofax said: “Once business users have identified where to apply these technologies, steps should be taken to prioritize which to automate first by starting small, thinking big and moving fast”.
“Organizations that move quickly to embrace rules-based RPA and AI-powered Intelligent Automation across their optimized processes will set themselves up for competitive advantage and success in the digital age” Chris added.
RPA Market Drivers
According to NASSCOM, RPA finds its highest adoption in the Fintech marketplace, Finance and Accounting teams leverage RPA techniques to primarily tackle cost and revenue pressures.
The key market drivers in the RPA industry are –
- Quick ROI
- Quick, seamless transition from legacy IT systems to hyper-automated infrastructure
- Improved CX
- Better Risk Preparedness and Agility
- Ease of Application at various organizational levels.
RPA is a byproduct of an automation strategy, but if done half-heartedly, it can rout the entire IT architecture.
Process Illustration: GETTING STARTED WITH ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATION, by Accenture
Technologies that Gel With RPA
Beginning with RPA requires a thorough understanding of various other technologies and applications. RPA is not a stand-alone technique. It is stacked with other technologies and managerial functions, such as:
- Business Intelligence
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Computer Vision
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
- Cognitive Intelligence
- The Internet of Things and Connected Devices Management
- Robotics and Human Simulation
- Voice and Facial Recognition
- Workflow Automation
- Deep Learning, and so on.
Leading RPA Solutions in the Market
Some of the leading names include,
- Automation Anywhere Inc.
- Blue Prism
- Edgeverve Systems Ltd.
- Kofax Inc.
- Nice Robotic Automation
- NTT Advanced Technology Corp.
- Openconnect Systems Inc. (ActiveOps Ltd.)
- Pegasystems Inc.
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