Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for beginners: 8 key concepts
According to a report by Everest Group, the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) market is expected to reach $ 2.5 billion this year after growing at an average annual growth rate of between 70 and 80 percent over a two-year period. According to Everest data, desktops could run around 2.5 million RDA (Robot Desktop Automation) bots on desktops and between 700,000 and 800,000 RPA robots on cloud and on-premise servers.
[ What’s the difference between RPA and AI? Read: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) vs. AI, explained. ]
Although the use of RPA is increasing in different industries, regions, and company sizes, many RPA buyers are still in the earliest stages of research or adoption. For those just starting out with RPA, there are a number of key concepts that will be helpful to understand. Let’s delve into eight:
1. RPA is software that replicates what people do
As we explained in plain English in our RPA, “RPA automates everyday processes that used to require human action – often much of it was done in red, time-consuming ways.” The software, often referred to as a bot, replicates like that Human would interact with an application or system and then automate that task.
“An RPA bot normally performs the automated tasks as a human would do it – logging into systems with an ID, entering data, collecting outputs or results, performing rule-based tasks, etc.,” explains Siddhartha Sharad, Director when advising Pace Harmon.
Here are five ways to define RPA in plain English:
- “For laypeople, RPA is the process by which a software bot uses a combination of automation, computer vision, and machine learning to automate high-volume, repetitive tasks that are rule-based and trigger-driven.” –David Landreman, CPO of Olive.
- “Robotic process automation is nothing more than instructing a machine to perform everyday, repetitive manual tasks. If there is a logical step in completing a task, a bot can replicate it. “–Vishnu KC, Senior Software Analyst at ClaySys Technologies.
- “RPA is software that automates rule-based actions that are performed on a computer.” –Chris Huff, Kofax Chief Strategy Officer.
- “RPA is an advanced form of business process automation that allows tasks performed by a human on their computer to be recorded and then performed without human intervention. In essence, it is a mimick of a virtual robot. “–Marcel Shaw, Federal Systems Engineer at Ivanti.
- “Put simply, the job of RPA is to automate repetitive tasks that were previously performed by humans. The software is programmed to perform repetitive tasks across applications and systems. The software is taught a workflow with several steps and applications. “- Antony Edwards, COO at Eggplant.
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2. RPA alone is not intelligent
“RPA is a deterministic solution, the result of which is known. Mainly used for transaction activities and standardized processes, ”says an RPA primer from the Everest Group, who also states that RPA can process structured and some semi-structured data.
Some common RPA use cases include order fulfillment, financial reporting, IT support such as resetting passwords and database maintenance, as well as data aggregation and reconciliation.
[ Want to experiment with RPA without committing to one vendor just yet? Read also: Robotic Process Automation (RPA): 6 open source tools. ]
3. Multiple bots are required to automate tasks across a process lifecycle
“For example,” explains Sharad, “one bot can automate order entry while another bot may be working to initiate an order with the supplier.”
4. RPA can handle traditional IT challenges
One of the main advantages is that labor-intensive tasks can be automated without making changes to existing systems. Everest Group notes that this non-invasive, user-interface-based approach is particularly attractive for processes that involve multiple legacy applications. RPA can also be useful for security tasks.
Let’s look at four other key RPA concepts. Do you first need development skills to use it?