Robotic Process Automation and RPA Tools
by Svitla Team
What is RPA?
As you may have heard, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the digital landscape in every field it reaches. The Robotic Process Automation (RPA) revolution goes hand in hand with the advances that Artificial Intelligence is making to transform industries worldwide. Ultimately, Artificial Intelligence augments RPA and its tools to surpass expectations.
With this already established, it’s valid to say that the world is gearing up for the robotic revolution. Even though we are already experiencing many of its applications, there’s still plenty of potentials to tap into.
But, what is RPA exactly? RPA or Robotic Process Automation is software technology, as dictated by business logic and structured inputs, aimed to program applications or robots to perform basic tasks, just like humans would, in an automated setting. RPA bots can mimic almost any human action, emulating and integrating actions with digital systems to execute a business process.
According to Investopedia, Robotic Process Automation is the “software that can be easily programmed to do basic tasks across applications just as human workers do.”
In simple terms, RPA enables the automation of tasks to reduce the strain of repetitive, simple tasks on employees as it interprets information, triggers responses, and communicates with other systems. Robots don’t need to sleep, rarely make mistakes, and can sometimes be less expensive than an employee. Sounds interesting, right?
To implement Robotic Process Automation effectively, we need tools. In this article, we are going to explore the different RPA tools available as well as a few pointers on how to select the best option for your organization.
Importance of Robotic Process Automation
Now that we’ve established the what, let’s dive into the why. Why is Robotic Process Automation important? Cutting-edge technology is almost always embraced with open arms due to the possibilities it opens up for a bright, more tech-savvy future. RPA is taking workplaces by storm by reducing the monotony of simple tasks for employees who are better off focusing on core business competencies.
According to insights developed by McKinsey&Company, RPA offers the potential ROI of 30-200% in the first year of use alone. This staggering figure is met with the statement made by Leslie Willcocks that “RPA takes the robot out of the human.” Companies and employees are taking notice, which is why everyone is so eager to invest in robotics and its emerging technologies.
In essence, RPA is important because it is transforming the way businesses operate by helping automate repetitive tasks that are part of a daily routine with a higher degree of efficiency than if performed by a human. Similar to cognitive automation, chatbots, and artificial intelligence, RPA performs significantly faster and more cost-effectively than human resources.
Many fear that RPA tools and technologies can be dangerous as they take jobs out of human hands. But you shouldn’t really worry as there is more to gain than lose when it comes to RPA. To put it into further context, implementing Robotic Process Automation into your workplace can help with tasks such as monitoring customer activity to discover opportunities to upsell, monitoring client behavior to identify areas of opportunity, reducing cycle times in repetitive tasks to gain competitive advantage, capturing and analyzing bulks of information to provide faster response times, and more.
In a wide range of industries that span healthcare, insurance, finance, and more, there are many heavy-hitters that have already adopted RPA tools into their processes, including Walmart, Ernst & Young, Walgreens, American Express, and more. These early-adopters have benefitted from reducing staffing costs and human errors with the implementation of RPA technology.
Typically, RPA takes an administrative task and replicates it with accuracy. All of this with the help of software programming written by humans. As previously mentioned, we need tools in order to accomplish all of this.
Next, we are going to explore the different types of modern RPA tools and their key characteristics.
Types of modern RPA tools
Time after time, it has been proven that technologies are as effective as the tools used to leverage them. For example, assistive technologies for people who have difficulty performing activities of daily living are incredibly effective and helpful with the aid of tools such as rehabilitative devices, mobility tools, visual aids, response systems, and more.
In the Information Technology and Artificial Intelligence industries, RPA tools are rich and varied and are categorized into three different tiers: programmable, self-learning, and cognitive. Next, we will explain them in detail to understand their key characteristics and differentiators.
Programmable RPA bots
This type of RPA tools involves bots that must be programmed to automate tasks. These programmable RPA bots can be programmed in different ways, which include:
- Coding: The most frequent and powerful way to program RPA bots is to build code with a programming language to have the bot perform the necessary actions to replicate a process or functionality. It requires technical knowledge to instruct bots which programs to use and how to interact with specific programs.
- Recording: Similar to macros in an excel spreadsheet, bots can be programmed to perform pre-recorded tasks in an automated setting. It is a form of rapid bot programming that is becoming increasingly popular with its use of macro recorders for enterprises.
- Low code RPA solutions: Simple solution that typically includes an intuitive interface to set up uncomplicated bots.
- No code RPA solutions: These solutions are a type of programmable RPA bots that provide a robust Graphical User Interface and recorder function without the need to code a program.
Self-learning RPA solutions
Self-learning RPA solutions observe human activity to gain an understanding of the process and then learn how to automate a specific task. Self-learning RPA solutions take over the program and start performing a task seamlessly and with accuracy.
Cognitive / Intelligent Robotic Process Automation
Cognitive RPA tools, also known as intelligent automation bots, augment self-learning bots with extraordinary functionalities such as natural language processing, image recognition, and machine learning, that help manage unstructured data and make decisions based on complex inputs.
Many consider cognitive/intelligent automation RPA tools as the future of RPA, as they emerge with AI capabilities that propel its capabilities to the next level. Cognitive RPA tools include the following types:
- No cognitive capabilities: simplistic tools that are used for monotonous, repetitive business processes.
- Built-in cognitive capabilities: tools with cognitive capabilities required by a process to reach full automation.
Next, let’s take a dive into RPA tools comparison.
Best RPA tools list
Now that you know about the different types of tools available, let’s take a look at this RPA tools list that includes some of the best RPA tools in the field.
Founded in 2005, UiPath is an RPA software tool that helps automate business processes effectively with a feature-rich and intuitive platform. UiPath includes easy-to-use functionalities such as point-and-click and drag-and-drop to simplify the automation process.
UiPath offers desktop contribution and a strong Citrix environment. Some of the UiPath main features include the ability to host in virtual terminals or cloud environments, superior support for numerous applications, auto-login, ability to work with .NET, Java, Flash, SAP, and more.
Founded in 2001, Blue Prism is a Robotic Process Automation tool that creates software that is designed to eliminate low-return manual data entry and processing work. Some of the Blue Prism main features include an easy and quick implementation, robust and feature-rich analytics suite, an improved control room for real-time feedback, and more.
Blue Prism can run both on-premise or in the cloud, providing companies with flexible infrastructure options. Blue Prism is built on the Microsoft.NET framework and supports any type of platform and application.
Founded in 2003, Automation Anywhere helps companies create smart bots that perform tasks in different business areas. It includes analytics and reporting modules to provide information on the performance of bots and their impact on a business.
Automation Anywhere is known to combine RPA with elements such as language understanding and reading unstructured data to deliver intelligent automation bots. Some of the Automation Anywhere main features include the use of SMART Automation Technology, the rapid automation of complex tasks, the distribution of tasks to multiple computers, scriptless automation, and more.
Finding the right RPA tools for your business automation tasks
There are certain parameters that you should consider prior to selecting the best RPA tools that fit your business automation tasks. In this section, we detail a few pointers on what to look for and how to assess the best option for your business.
RPA tools come with unique features and functionalities that support business automation. You should select the right RPA tools based on the following:
- Technology: It is desirable for the tool to be platform-independent to support any type of application
- Types of performed tasks: Identify the type of processes and tasks the RPA tool can handle to determine how valuable it is to your business and technical needs.
- Integration: Appraise how easy it is to integrate a specific RPA tool across the multiple applications in your technology environment.
- Scalability: Determine how easy it is to scale up or down a tool to respond to changing business requirements.
- Usability: Select a tool that is user-friendly, with low training and learning curves and that provides ease of control.
- AI: You should evaluate how AI is involved to support the emulation of human users and assess how effective it is in the type of tasks you want to automate.
- Security: The tool should have stringent security measures in place to protect your data, your software, and your processes.
These are only a few of the parameters to consider, but we also recommend looking into the maintenance and support of the tool, the service offerings of multiple RPA vendors, how quickly it can be deployed, how much it costs compared to other solutions, the reputation it has in the industry, and more.
In the age of business process automation and revolutionary technological advancements, it is perfectly clear to see that RPA and RPA tools are here to stay. The potential they offer is endless and should be used to lead a transformation in the way we currently operate and perform certain activities and tasks.
Think of a future where RPA technologies absorb bulks of older applications and activities, leaving workers enough free time to focus on high-value work. The smart use of Robotic Process Automation tools can breathe life into systems by creating a digital process flow. The use of RPA tools involves taking the time to build a proper design strategy, a comprehensive scope plan, and the right management to take it to the desired level.
At Svitla Systems, we have the right team to help you gain knowledge on this emerging technology practice and leverage the best RPA tools to streamline enterprise operations and reduce costs.
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