Robotic Process Automation vs Traditional Automation

Robotic Process Automation
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Robotic Process Automation or the acronym RPA describes the use of software for automating specific types of human activities. To be clear, RPA software is geared towards taking over repetitive, monotonous, and rule-based tasks, duties, and actions. One of the most common RPA applications for SMBs (small and medium businesses) is the ubiquitous ‘Chatbot’.

RPA technology is particularly prevalent in the customer service function, email and invoicing, data collation and analysis, et al. The customer service function exemplifies the power of RPA in full flight; ‘intelligent’ software interlaced with customer service functionality is now capable of self-populating a knowledge base which allows the chatbot to respond to customer questions, queries, and comments. This removes the need to employ human resources for that specific function, freeing them up for higher-level jobs.

It is worth pointing out that RPA technology does not replace existing technologies, it is an overlay and works in tandem with a company’s existing framework. RPA software automates the routine, repetitive, and rule-based activities that would otherwise have to be performed by humans. The benefits of RPA are abundantly clear in the workforce. RPA is far more efficient, accurate, and reliable than traditional legacy systems. With RPA frameworks, businesses can ensure that all outputs are completed and that employees can be reassigned where their skills, attributes, and abilities are better suited. RPA solutions come in different forms, including Kryon RPA management software for ensuring seamless interaction with existing APIs, for enhanced quality, productivity, and efficiency of operations. Provided the correct scripting, maintenance, and responsiveness are met, RPA systems can keep pace and ensure synergy within a dynamic workforce.

RPA is a cost-effective solution to SMEs for automating activities. It is nonintrusive and makes full use of the existing infrastructure/framework without disrupting legacy systems. Compliance, cost efficiency, and cohesion are the 3Cs of RPA technology. The managers entrusted with RPA implementation include the business owners and the IT department. This fully scalable solution grows with a business, allowing for unlimited expansion and rapid realization of RPA benefits.

Among the many applications possible through non-invasive RPA technology are the following: reading/writing to databases, email and attachments functions, moving files & folders, connecting to system APIs, extracting relevant information from forms, emails, documents, PDFs, and making rudimentary & complex calculations. The goal of RPA is a boosted return on investment (ROI) with enhanced customer service functionality and reduced back-office stress.

Functions and Features of Traditional Automation

Traditional Automation differs markedly from RPA in many ways. For starters, traditional automation allows machinery to perform tasks. This includes any number of steps in operational processes. RPA is focused on front-end activities and doesn’t require any shifts for back-end operations. RPA is also capable of working across all different types of applications and the Robotic Process Automation bots function at the user interface level and work within the system much as a human would.

RPA also ensures greater personalization and customization over traditional automation. Process automation has been around for quite some time and RPA is used to automate business processes. While both traditional automation and Robotic Process Automation are geared towards automating processes, they differ in several important ways.

  • RPA relies on easy-to-program functionality with rapid turnaround times
  • Traditional automation requires substantial input from IT professionals and software developers – RPA is for SMBs with a tech focus that can train the robots.
  • RPA bots can perform individualized functions such as replying to emails, extracting data from files and folders, et al. It is tailored to individual users.
  • RPA technology works from the UI (User Interface) by mimicking user actions.
  • Traditional automation may be restricted by source code and is not designed for systemic integration.

RPA & Traditional Automation Relieve Individuals from Mundane Tasks

Source: RPA Market Revenues Worldwide 2016 – 2022 (Statista)

It should be remembered that traditional automation still has an important place in the world, particularly in product workflows. However, conventional automation can be implemented in tasks like screen scraping too. Traditional automation is built at the infrastructure level and is typically associated with a lengthy implementation process. The difference between RPA implementation and traditional automation implementation is evident in the duration requirements for each system.

Thanks to its use of graphical user interfaces, RPA does not need to be integrated with applications. Full RPA implementation can be completed in weeks, compared to months needed for traditional automation. RPA can, for example, provide data for ADP payroll by extracting data from Word documents, without a high level of integration. RPA certainly has many benefits over traditional automation, it will likely not replace automation. Traditional automation can move copious amounts of data at breakneck speed between different types of systems.

RPA works at the speed of the UI, lost lower than traditional automation, is much more efficient than the manual efforts of human employees. For these and many reasons, different types of automation will remain in place. Once cognitive features and functions such as artificial intelligence enhancements are added to RPA technology, it will become a lot more sophisticated. The bottom line is robotic process automation and traditional automation will perform monotonous components of jobs, allowing employees to engage in analytical, judgment-based, and high-value functions.

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