RPA is a software technology that reduces or removes human effort in business processes by using virtual robots or “bots.”
Robotic process automation is defined as a software technology that reduces or removes human effort involved in business processes by using virtual robot software or “bots,” which are often powered by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), optical character recognition (OCR), and other cognitive technologies. This article explains how RPA works, its uses and the top five RPA software to use right now.
Robotic process automation is a software technology that reduces or removes the human effort involved in business processes by using virtual robot software or “bots,” which are often powered by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), optical character recognition (OCR), and other cognitive technologies.
While RPA refers to robots in its name, the technology doesn’t use robotics, unlike industrial automation. Instead, it relies on pieces of software – which could be standalone automation scripts or end-to-end automation apps – to replace human effort. For example, the software may fetch data from a system at a given time and transfer it to another after running a series of checks without human intervention. The software used in RPA is known as bots, which could be either pre-packaged or custom-built.
While automation has been around since the 1900s, RPA rose to prominence only after the evolution and growing accessibility of AI and machine learning. These cognitive technologies allow bots to respond to various event triggers and perform complex tasks.
For example, the OCR AI technique allows RPA bots to extract or “read” information from an image, much like a human can. Further, thanks to machine learning algorithms, the bots get increasingly more powerful and effective every time they are used. For instance, if a human user matches an image with a text the first time, the bot can use ML to learn from this correction and do it automatically the next time.
RPA is rapidly evolving as these cognitive technologies become increasingly more advanced. For example, in 2020, Gartner coined the term hyperautomation to refer to next-gen RPA that uses exceptionally intelligent AI/ML to make decisions and execute actions perfectly aligned with business objectives.
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While robotic process automation can be classified in terms of its purpose, there are only three types of RPA as per their internal operations. These are:
1. Attended RPA: Attended RPA is a tool used by a human employee and is not automatically triggered. For example, let us say an employee must go through six different steps to complete a task. Instead, they can simply run an RPA program to perform the same task automatically, but there needs to be a human to launch the code. iPhone Shortcuts is an excellent example of this type of automation in our daily life.
2. Unattended RPA: Unattended RPA is typically event-based and operates at the backend of IT infrastructure. When a specific event occurs, the RPA bot kicks into action and launches a sequence of tasks. The event could also be a date or time, allowing unattended RPA to run in the background per a preconfigured schedule. Sometimes, unattended RPA can have a human in the loop (HTTL) to handle rare exceptions.
3. Hybrid RPA: This is probably the most common type of RPA adopted by enterprises. An end-to-end automated workflow will have both attended and unattended bots that work together to perform a more significant function. For example, an unattended bot could analyze data in the background and present the insights to the user. After looking at the insights, the user presses a button to execute a series of actions: attended automation. Together, these make up a hybrid RPA process.
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Robotic process automation (RPA) employs computer software “robots” to conduct repetitive, rule-based digital operations such as reentering data or copying and pasting. RPA functions by tapping into your current IT architecture and database management solutions. One may integrate RPA technologies with applications in a variety of ways:
RPA may function via linkages to data systems and enterprise web services. There is also the option of front-end or desktop connections, which come in various ways. On the front end, your automation may link with desktop apps (like SAP, PeopleSoft, and Salesforce CRM) and other resources to complete the task in several ways. Similar to a human operator, front-end automation may read and write data and record events directly from the UI of the target application.
A distributed strategy for automation development is frequently the best solution for complicated scenarios, while process recording is effective for more straightforward and standard business processes. The layered method divides the many components of process automation into several levels, each of which is responsible for specific functionalities. The process layer is at the top, followed by subprocesses that may be layered inside the main processes. Users may construct objects or processes for particular activities from a lower-level layer of elements or screen interactions.
In some respects, the notion of process recording is comparable to configuring a Microsoft Excel macro to handle a series of actions. Process recording transforms the user’s actions into a procedure that duplicates them. It may facilitate the rapid and straightforward development of process automation.
Advanced automation using artificial intelligence (AI) and associated technologies like optical character recognition or OCR, machine learning, and text analytics. Cognitive automation may use unstructured data sources such as scanned documents, emails, and letters, while supervised and unsupervised RPA flourish with operations that utilize information from organized databases.
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The ‘automatic production of invoices’ is one of the most popular instances of RPA. It is a vital role for every organization, but it may also be a crucial responsibility sometimes. This work is often repetitive, making it iterative (and time-consuming) for human staff who must do tens of thousands of such activities daily.
Because they are repetitive and organized, these procedures are great candidates for RPA automation. In a typical company, the workflow for this procedure may look as follows:
All of these tasks may be automated using the RPA tool. As soon as a consumer sends an initial email, all these actions will be completed instantly by RPA bots without human intervention. Data preparation and purification in a structured manner enables software bots to simply copy and paste information from one area to another without human involvement.
If data is insufficient, erroneous, or absent, these software bots may send an acknowledgment to the originator and request the correct data. It avoids all types of errors that may originate from human error. One must realize that not all processes are suitable for RPA. You should search for procedures that are very predictable and repetitious; unpredictability is our enemy here.
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RPA software may be seen as a subset of the “no code” or “low code” trend since it needs little or no original programming. The goal is to allow non-programmers, such as a business consultant, threat intelligence analyst, or anyone outside of IT, to construct software successfully — in this instance, RPA bots that perform rules-based, repetitive computer activities. The top five applications capable of doing this include:
Automation Anywhere is a U.S.-based software company that creates software for robotic process automation. The company was established in 2003 and has its headquarters in San Jose, California. The Automation Anywhere Platform provides safe business automation in conjunction with process intelligence to enhance operational efficiency.
The Control Room aids in the management of automated processes. It is mainly used at the organizational level and improves operations. Importantly, Automation Anywhere Community Edition is a free RPA application that enables users to automate various basic and complicated processes.
Blue Prism is the trade name of Blue Prism Group plc, a global software company based in the United Kingdom that provides corporate RPA software to support a digital workforce. It was created to automate complicated, end-to-end operational processes. Blue Prism® develops Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software to equip businesses with a more secure, agile, and intelligent digital workforce.
Blue Prism expands the area of work your company can automate by combining AI and ML, which is supported by an intelligent workforce that handles jobs wherever they’re required.
IBM Robotic Process Automation (RPA) involves using intelligent automation robots in any process demanding efficiency, consistency, and speed without the possibility of error. In essence, it replicates the actions of a human user. It is possible to automate processes via the employment of digital bots, or bots, which carry out pre-programmed, error-free, repetitive operations. To that end, IBM RPA comprises the following components – IBM Robotic Process Automation Studio, the Web Client, a Dashboard, and Accessibility features.
The IBM Robotic Process Automation Studio tool (the software’s central component) offers a fundamental value proposition – no prior knowledge of programming languages is required to design, run, test, and launch bots on the platform using the tool.
Microsoft Power Automate, previously known as Microsoft Flow till November 2019, is an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) technology for automating recurring processes. It is a component of the Microsoft Power Platform family of tools, including Power Apps and Power BI. Power Automate is a tool that facilitates the creation of automated processes between your preferred applications and services to synchronize files, receive alerts, gather data, and more. Due to its low-code, drag-and-drop capabilities and numerous pre-built connections, Power Automate enables anyone to create automated operations using flows and leverage Azure cloud for scalability.
UiPath is an international software business that develops RPA software. It was established in Bucharest, Romania, but has its HQ in New York City. UiPath is a tool for substantial end-to-end robotic process automation. It offers organizations tools to automate ordinary office tasks for transformational change. It employs a number of techniques to convert monotonous jobs into automated processes.
The advantage of UiPath is its ability to retain enormous amounts of data and ease a process that would otherwise be difficult and laborious. By simply moving and dropping related jobs onto the graphical workspace, the UiPath user will create visual process steps. Then, using the characteristics of the user interface, they may convert these process stages into a visual workflow.
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An industry that implements RPA may automate its whole labor-intensive and time-consuming workflow, infrastructure, and backend activities. All industries may automate their processes using robotic process automation, which removes the possibility of human inaccuracy entirely. Here are a few scenarios where RPA use makes perfect sense for an organization:
Automated customer service and contact center systems can categorize consumer inquiries and provide initial responses. The automated system may divide inquiries into many groups, including the tech department, customer service department, and others. Processing by an RPA bot guarantees that customer service inquiries reach the appropriate team member for a speedy response. There is no need to transfer the customer’s call from one agent to another.
Consistency of data across enterprise-level systems is a challenging task. Salespeople must input data into a CRM system and an ERP system. This data must be duplicated and entered into yet another database or module by finance analysts. This leads to duplication, inefficiencies, and a decrease in production. RPA may execute end-to-end sales operations such as data input and invoicing. In addition, bots may maintain databases by deleting redundant information.
Most B2C (Business-to-Consumer) and B2B (Business-to-Business) companies adhere to a client onboarding procedure. So that clients continue to use their goods and services, they must maintain strong customer relations and prevent errors. Utilizing cognitive RPA and OCR (Optical Character Recognition), organizations may accomplish most client onboarding duties relatively easily.
Similarly, establishing and onboarding new staff is a laborious and time-consuming procedure for HR and IT professionals. It involves generating new accounts, email IDs, and access privileges, among other responsibilities. Due to the repetitive and rule-based nature of employee onboarding tasks, it is possible to automate the application of a specified process when a new user account is established. New workers may get notices and documentation via email via RPA bots.
From PDFs, internal databases, and online apps, RPA bots may transfer incoming bills. In addition, the RPA bot may install a duplicated PDF on an internal server, which is essential for ensuring regulatory compliance and can minimize contractor invoice processing timelines by up to 60%. Bots can maintain client master records and credit approvals with greater speed and precision. The same applies to AP cash documents and order processing. In addition, late alerts may be issued through email more swiftly and with less difficulty than is customary for last-minute adjustments.
Finally, accounting data from various sources, like Excel sheets or client bills, must be reconciled. Using automation, one may prepare and download the information into the proper format and check the data for exceptions.
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As the number of patients continues to increase, healthcare companies prioritize cost savings and efficiency as two of the most critical advantages of RPA adoption in healthcare services. Personnel in the healthcare industry may now manage a more extensive patient base, particularly in delivering individualized care and attention.
Implementing RPA reduces expenses associated with maintaining patient medical records, data input, and claim processing, among other tasks. This allows the staff to devote more time to critical operations, such as patient care, rather than tedious and laborious tasks.
Data may appear in several forms, including editable text and handwritten notes. Data entry specialists struggle to read and input the data into the system. It is simple for OCR technology to read information from various formats and input it into the system.
It is simple for OCR technology to read information from various formats and input it into the system. The whole procedure can be computerized with minimal loss of information accuracy. RPA is an excellent investment if your company has to gather and archive information from several sources. Most employee hours are spent on repetitive IT jobs like this one. RPA saves this time and redirects it to other productive pursuits.
In every organization, workers must submit frequent progress reports to their management. Preparing and distributing such reports to management may divert workers’ focus from regular tasks. Enterprises may use RPA systems to create reports automatically from various data analytics platforms, evaluate their contents, and send them to the appropriate management personnel.
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Robotic process automation (RPA) is fast becoming a business staple as it dramatically reduces workers’ efforts. By 2023, Gartner predicts that worldwide spending on RPA will cross $3 billion, which is also due to the pandemic. The COVID-19 period compelled businesses to find new efficiencies and implement ways to do more with less. That is why understanding and implementing RPA – and selecting the right RPA software for your needs — is an essential lever for enterprises.
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