This is a question which often follows “What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)”?
Essentially some software (called a “Software Robot” or “Bot”) simulates a person working on a computer. The “Software Robot” can simulate reading information displayed on the screen, can simulate typing on the keyboard and simulate mouse activity e.g. clicks. This enables a “Software Robot” to perform actions on computer systems just like a person. The repetitive process activity done by a person can be automated, hence “Robotic Process Automation”.
The “Software Robots” can work alongside a person, interacting with them, a bit like super “Shortcut” or a “Macro”. They act as a “Digital Assistant” to empower users to be more productive.
Alternatively, “Software Robots” can work “UnAttended” when the complete set of process tasks can be automated without people being involved. Freeing users to perform other tasks.
The instructions on simulating very simple tasks can be created using drag and drop, but for larger task automation with appropriate error handling the instructions for software robots are just like coding it is best created by specialists.
RPA can be useful to any size of business that has repetitive tasks performed on computers by staff. The technology can be deployed on a small scale as well as configurations suitable for enterprise corporations.
There are lots of vendors of Robotic Process Automation software, the products provide the “Software Robots”. Each vendor provides different features and has different licence costs. With the variety of products available, the question “What is RPA” could be answered at a detailed level in a multitude of ways but the core aspect of simulating user activity is common. Each vendor naturally will place emphasis on features that best suit their product. Industry analysts rate two vendors as having the largest market share and most functionally rich products, they are Automation Anywhere and UiPath.
At Ether Solutions we specialise in using UiPath software to implement solutions in order that we have experience and know the product in depth from many implementations, enabling effort to be focused on understanding the business requirements for each specific client.
BEYOND RPA TO AI?
Questions about “What is Robotic Process Automation” sometimes include answers that cover Artificial Intelligence (AI) to frame the answer as “Intelligent Automation” but this is really combining two distinct technical areas which might well be the type of solution a client requires but then it is not a direct answer to the question.
Once there is an understanding about “How does RPA work”, it is easier to appreciate the different features that the vendors offer in the products. Given the focus of automating repetitive processes, it is possible to see why adding AI into the solution helps extend the range of business tasks which can be automated by exploiting AI’s capabilities to perform complex pattern matching and recognition of data in documents, emails, chatbot conversations, etc.