What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Hey everyone. Today, let's talk about Robotic Process Automation (RPA).   In my opinion, the definition lies more in the terms of process automation and less than actual robots. But Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is changing the software world much like physical robots have changed the world that we live in every day. For example, take a vending machine,   there's not a person standing there sorting all your money and bending the goods it's automated because it's a tedious task. Now Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is doing the same thing in the software world for tedious repetitive tasks. But for things like IT, or even Business Process Management,   Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is not going to help and that's because these require more specialized skills.   

So where can Robotic Process Automation (RPA) assist?

Well, let's start with an example inspired by one of my favorite TV shows.   Let's say we've got a disgruntled employee, we're going to call him Pete. Now Pete has to take several documents that are stored you know digitally and then convert them into forms that he then has to file. So this is a very tedious task so he has to take all of these forms,   write them out manually, and then finally actually go and file them.   So this process let's see has to do this you know 10,000 times. That means, you know Pete's going to be pretty unhappy about this because this is a very tedious repetitive task it's something that you know with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) he could automate. So, let's see what Pete would do if he wanted to set up an automation to do this flow. 

So, the first thing he has to do is to identify what's the data and from where is it coming. So in this particular example the data is already in a computer somewhere and let's say that's coming in through email, or maybe his co-worker Kelly is manually inputting them from you know phone calls with customers. So they take the customer forms they put them on the computer. Now Pete has to extract data, right. So that's going to be the first thing that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help with. Now, so with OCR, or Optical Character Recognition,   along with the data that's in the computer Pete's able to pull out data, and what he's going to do is extract that data for further processing. So that data can be things like the customer's name and the info, let's say in the customer form it's the complaints that make up that information. So taking that data so the next thing Pete's going to do is let's say validate it so make sure that none of the data is corrupt and you know all the data looks good.  

Finally, he has to input it into a digital form. So he puts it into a digital form and finally he sends it off to a printer. Now at this phase all Pete has to do is take the final forms that are printed out and then file them and that's going to be a whole lot easier to do than doing this manually for all 10,000 customer complaint forms that are coming in.   So that's where Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can assist with tedious repetitive tasks that require things like clicking through user interfaces, copying and pasting data, or kind of other things like Optical Character   Recognition where you have to extract data. So, when choosing a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solution that is going to enable you to do this type of automation, I'd say there are four major things that you need to be looking for. 

Now the first one I'm going to start with you wants to make sure that your Robotic Process Automation (RPA)   tool is intelligent. Now in this particular flow, Pete used a lot of capabilities so he used OCR,   Optical Character Recognition, besides, he used different data manipulation techniques.   So this enables Pete to do things like extract, input data, validate it,   and finally, he even had a function to be able to print something out create a physical piece of paper from software-based automation. That's just scratching the tip of what Robot   Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can do today. So, another thing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can do is things like AI or machine learning to train a model to recognize not just you know simple characters, but maybe even images. So,   that's something that Pete might want to augment this automation with in the future.   So, that's one thing you want to make sure of is that your Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tool is intelligent.   

Number two, low code. So, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is only going to be effective if the users that are creating this automation find that process to be easy, otherwise, management might choose to just have their employees do it manually if creating this type of automation was too time-consuming.   So, a low code Robotic Process Automation (RPA) environment is going to enable Pete to do things like drag and drop components and have the minimal touch to get this automation created end to end.   

Number three, concurrency. So this is going to be the ability to run multiple robots at the same time, multiple automation tasks. So, for the 10,000 customer complaint forms,   say this task takes 15 seconds, that's a lot of time. So, imagine if you could launch multiple robots and divvy up that work well you could get through the task at hand much more quickly. So a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solution should have concurrency support. 

And the last one I want to mention here is Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as a   Service. Now an "as a Service" model is going to come with several advantages. For one,   it's going to give you a shorter time to value and that's because Pete doesn't have to worry about spinning up his infrastructure, installing the software, managing that environment, he can just log in and start building this automation right away. That brings me to my next point,   currency, so not concurrency, but currency, which is keeping up with the latest versions that are available. 

So Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and the world of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is changing quite rapidly and so with some of the intelligent capabilities enabled within Robotic Process Automation (RPA), say a new version of OCR comes out and he wants to use it,   well with a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as a Service capability you can get updates more quickly, you're more current with the latest versions of software. So you get to use those latest components and maybe OCR 2.0 kind of help fix some of the bugs with pulling data from customer complaint forms.   

Finally, I think the last one that I want to mention here is that it allows you to collaborate.   So imagine that Pete builds this automation, publishes it, and then now wants to share it with the Nashua branch of this company so that they can take advantage of the same process to automate this flow and kind of file customer complaint forms. So "as a Service" environments generally are multi-tenant and enable you to collaborate with your co-workers.   

So, this was a quick overview of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools are quickly growing in popularity,   and so is the scope of what Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can automate. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is growing very rapidly and the scope of what Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can automate is also growing rapidly.

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