What is the difference between Chatbots and RPA?
There are many definitions of these exciting areas of technology and both suffer from “Hype”.
In my view they are different but there is a small degree of overlap and they could be used together.
The key feature of a Chatbot is that it provides a language interface. This could be text from a mobile device or audio from a “Smart” speaker. The Chatbot provides some functionality as part of the dialogue, whether it is switching on the lights or making a banking transaction.
RPA – Robotic Process Automation, is designed to do what any human could do by using a computer screen. It uses existing computer systems and automates the interaction. The benefit is not in a new capability but that a robot can effectively work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, does not need holidays and does not go sick – well OK there is always likely to be the odd incident, but it is about scalability and Robots do not get bored, tired and do not make random errors therefore the quality of the activity is maintained.
The overlap comes in that a Chatbot could use RPA functionality as part of the dialogue.
Some of the confusion of these two areas arises when the concepts of “Attended” and “Un-Attended” RPA is discussed. Could a Chatbot be considered as an “Attended” RPA, well only if the way the “Attended” RPA took instructions was via language interface, then it would be a Chatbot. Most “Attended” RPA involves a human making a decision or adding input which cannot be pre-determined, so there is need for a dialogue, just a new instruction to the robot.