With Microsoft eyeing up to purchase firms specializing in Robotic Processes Automation (RPA), the industry’s promise as well as more mainstream incorporation of the technology. But what is it? Definitely, the first logical question to ask of any blossoming technology. RPA can be seen as a set of tools or software robots, that can be automated to complete mundane and repetitive tasks. Employees spend large portions of their time doing these tasks and by developing bots to do them instead the employee’s expertise can be focussed on other projects.
To Automate or Not to Automate, that is the Question
When looking to implement RPA it is important to know which processes can be automated. In general, processes that are repetitive, labor-intensive, of high volume, time-sensitive, or prone to human error are the best candidates for RPA automation. These all are fairly broad in terms of the daily tasks employees would likely encounter and more specific examples include form filling, manipulating or extracting data, automating operating system critical tasks, request management, streamlining information delivery to important stakeholders, securely opening emailed documents and attachments, and securely screening online resources.
Along with technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, RPA Technology is maturing at a rapid rate. With those supplementary technologies used in tandem with RPA are increasing the scope of tasks that can be automated. As bots “learn” via machine learning algorithms they can analyze data and perform set actions based on the data. This in effect would mean that the bots could make decisions on what process should be performed and when.
While automation of repetitive tasks is often seen as the major bonus to RPA and its implementation, the inevitable question of cost arises. Here again another advantage to RPA emerges in that the costs associated with development and implementation are lower when compared to rival technologies. For the most part, they do not require deep system integration, highly customized software packages, and are easy to implement helping keep costs down and lower than some other technologies a company may deem necessary.
As it stands there are several open-source RPA tools available that can be further customized to suit an enterprise’s specific needs. This makes the technology adaptable and again helps reduce costs associated with development and implementation. Another driver making the technology more appealing is how it can sync with existing clouds to help automate cloud orchestration. This may prove to be a game-changer in the future as small to medium enterprises are generally not willing to spend funds on developing in house cloud specialists to handle the cloud orchestration process. If such services are offered along with cloud services, smaller enterprises would be far more willing to adopt the cloud service as it becomes a more holistic offering.
Remote Working and RPA
In concluding this article the benefits of RPA to remote workers deserves to be touched upon. 2020 has seen the rapid adoption of the need for employees to adopt remote working tools, this is due primarily to the current pandemic. RPA can be used in several ways, including the above-mentioned automation of tedious tasks. Further, many of the security deficiencies with video conferencing platforms have been well-publicized, and RPA tools can be used to ensure software packages are kept up to date, helping prevent hackers from exploiting known vulnerabilities. As for the mundane, RPA bots can be designed in assisting calendars and scheduling of meetings to prevent conflicts in improving workflow.
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