What the hell is RPA?

Written by: Samantha Wolhuter

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Something quite interesting is happening where the worlds of tech and business collide and it’s a little thing called RPA or Robotic Process Automation. In the past, we’ve written articles about Elio, WeAreBrain’s DevOps workbot. The simplest explanation of what RPA is and how it’s supposed to work can be found in who he is and what he does. We wanted to create a bot that could automate various DevOps tasks (that’s Elio) so that we could have our talented developers do things that only humans could do.

RPA defined

However, a more detailed explanation is probably required. RPA is an emerging automation discipline that is set to change the way business process and systems work. At the most basic level RPA software robots are able to take the place of humans, where tasks are repetitive, process-driven and do not require intercessions like strategic decision making. The claim is that these robots can dramatically affect cost-savings through their efficiency and relative speed to their human counterparts. Much like what was covered in this article, the aim is not to replace human workers but rather to free them up to focus on more high-value ventures and anything that involves opportunities for real customer engagement.

In Robotics Tomorrow’s article titled Brave New World of RPA and according to a report from the Everest Group, ‘the benefits of RPA can be substantial and include: cost reduction to the tune of 35–65%; substantially improved service delivery in both quality and speed; a better ability to manage governance, security, and business continuity; and speedy deployment (generally 2 to 12 months) and time-to-value (12 to 24 months)’

RPA in practice

Seems almost too good to be true and in all practicality, when enacted smartly, RPA really is as good as it sounds. Having said that and despite the huge advances seen in cognitive computing, the industry is still in its infancy. The most successful examples in play are those solutions that are ‘based generally on rules-based software algorithms versus more sophisticated cognitive computing approaches such as deep machine learning.’

Many of the big boys in the market have been hard at work giving RPA the good PR it deserves. The potential for RPA is exciting. It’s capacity to emulate human execution through apps and messaging services like Skype and Slack makes including it into existing systems easy. RPA solutions are also being designed so that business users are able to manage and interact with them without loaded technical complexities. What this means is that we’re not talking about rehauling your entire system to include RPA robots, they fit seamlessly into your existing technology stack.

Buckle up…

In the coming weeks, we’re going to investigate what the road to RPA really looks like for the average business user. Highlighting the best possible ‘field fits’ and whether or not this is a technology that’s here to stay and worth investing in.

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Samantha Wolhuter
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Samantha Wolhuter
Sam is in charge of writing a big portion of WeAreBrain’s creative content. She is a digital nomad always on the go, inspiring us with her words from some of the world's most beautiful locations.
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