In our continuing series on the topic of Robotics Process Automation (RPA), particularly its use in midmarket enterprises, we chose to tackle some of the frequently asked questions we’ve either been asked – or asked ourselves about this growing technology.

What does the RPA acronym mean?

RPA stands for Robotics Process Automation. RPA and its robots (or bots) is a technology that can be configured to “observe” the way a trained user performs a particular task and the various decision points involved in accomplishing that task, and to replicate the process.  See our article on RPA basics, where we offered a high level description of what RPA is (and we’ll take deeper dives in upcoming articles).

Why should I even care about RPA?  

You should care about RPA because it is one of the fastest growing sectors of the operational technology industry. It is real, it is expanding and it can increase your company’s efficiency and productivity leading to benefits that reach directly to the bottom line. We think any technology investment that delivers the immediate benefits that RPA can, is worth understanding better. In an upcoming post, we’ll look at the benefits RPA can bring to midmarket organizations like yours. And in case you were wondering – the benefits are substantial.

If RPA's the next big thing, why haven't I heard more about it? 

RPA is in wide use among large corporations, service providers in particular. Ernst and Young for example, utilizes RPA to automate many of its core business functions, and credits the technology with a several-hundred-thousand-dollar annual savings.

There are a few reasons many of us in the midmarket haven’t heard much about RPA. First, it is still a relatively new technology that is still maturing and hasn’t yet reached its height curve. Given its relative newness, and its initial traction among large corporations, there’s a trickle-down effect that’s just beginning to flow. Also, the technology hasn’t had a public champion promoting it (we’re trying to change that). We have no doubt that as time goes by, the technology will grow exponentially and into many spectrums of the market.

What's the difference between RPA and macros and scripting?

We get asked this question frequently. Without getting overly technical, macros and scripts are programming. They are short sequences of code written to perform a single task, or a series of tasks. While a macro or script is linear and fixed, RPA robots are dynamic. They can “learn” and respond to stimuli, accumulating knowledge of procedures over time – thereby getting “smarter.”

Another major difference is that RPA is autonomous of the application. Where you might need multiple scripting tools to create scripts to perform in your various applications, RPA can interact with multiple applications at once at the object layer. It can be applied to virtually any application, and multiple applications at a time. If you’d like to know more about the differences, UiPath provides an excellent article on the topic here.

What are some common ways RPA is being used now? 

RPA is ideally suited for tasks involving transactional data from a variety of sources.

Some examples of its current application include: Invoice processing, accounts payable, travel and expenses, claims processing, payroll input and change of (address, address, name, etc.). It is estimated that up to 45 percent of the activities companies pay people to perform can be automated through RPA.

Have you got questions about RPA? Contact me at [email protected] to discuss.

This content was originally posted here.