Robotic Process Automation (RPA): 5 truths behind the buzz

Robotic Process Automation (RPA): 5 truths behind the buzz

The current hype about robotic process automation comes with questions, concerns, and misconceptions about what RPA can and can't do. Let's examine 5 key facts business leaders should understand

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4. RPA is not magic

“Intelligent automation” typically refers to the use of RPA in concert with complementary technologies, such as more cognitive branches of AI.

RPA might suffer a bit from a branding problem: “Robotic process automation” makes it sound fancier or more futuristic than it really is. It’s simply software for automating certain kinds of computer-based tasks that once required a person to complete. It’s not magic, and there are no actual robots involved. So make sure you aren’t betting on it to solve problems it’s not intended to solve.

“Business leaders need to understand that RPA is not a silver bullet,” says Gomez, the Bizagi CEO. “This mistake is why many organizations are struggling to scale their RPA initiatives. You’ll hear about organizations with 300 bots celebrating the scale of their automation, but what does that really mean in a business with 50,000 employees and 10,000 processes?”

This is why there continues to be some hype around the term “intelligent automation,” which isn’t new but might get renewed buzz. It typically refers to the use of RPA in concert with complementary or amplifying technologies, such as more cognitive branches of AI. (RPA on its own isn’t “smart” – it simply follows instructions given to it by a human.)

[ Confused about the difference between RPA and AI? Read: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) vs. AI, explained. ]

“That’s the approach that will enable them to extend the value of RPA to end-to-end processes, the whole customer journey and across the enterprise,” Gomez says. “RPA is just one piece of the puzzle.”

5. Theres a build-versus-buy decision

If you’re properly resourced in terms of software development and other needs, you can develop your own RPA solution in-house. Huff from Kofax notes that there are open source frameworks and tools for RPA, for example. Some of the commercial vendors also offer freemium products if you just want to kick the tires.

As with many software tools, consider the build-versus-buy decision carefully. Some organizations will be better suited to leaning on a vendor or a solutions provider for a variety of reasons, Huff says. The RPA software vendor landscape is a competitive one, and that’s potentially good news for business leaders. Just make sure you’re willing to invest properly evaluate your options so you don’t get stuck with a bad fit.

“An organization can develop its own RPA solution if it has the time and resources,” says Dwyer from Laserfiche. “However, business leaders should consider whether it’s worth starting from scratch to develop a custom, in-house solution versus investing in a pre-existing, multi-purpose tool that could potentially solve multiple challenges across the organization.”

[ Learn the do’s and don’ts of cloud migration: Get the free eBook, Hybrid Cloud for Dummies. ]


One comment

End-users that are

End-users that are implementing RPA bots need to understand what is behind Truth #2 (Cut the CIO out of the loop at your own peril). It's not a desire on the part of IT to maintain control. Instead, it's a need to ensure that as RPA activity scales up, it doesn't create consequences elsewhere in the hybrid IT environment. As the article notes, the problems tend to show up when RPA scales up. We are seeing inefficient mechanisms (screen-scraping) used by RPA bots to get mainframe data drive asymmetric increases in mainframe transaction volumes as bots become pervasive. When the IT team understands RPA bot data requirements, they can often suggest better, more efficient means of getting that data that keep costs down and perform better.


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