Robotic Process Automation

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Simply speaking, robotic process automation is a way of describing the use of computing technology to do tasks that a computer can do more efficiently than a human. RPA is just one way of describing the intelligent automation of typical transactional tasks – tasks that are often time-consuming, high-volume, repetitive and manual – such as data entry .

The Institute of Robotic Process Automation defines this as:
“the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a ‘robot’ to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.”

Or, according to the President and Co-Founder of The Institute for Robotic Process Automation (or IRPA) another definition of this is: “RPA, deals with ‘smart software’ and applying this intelligent software to do high-volume, repeatable tasks that are usually time-consuming and mundane for human beings.”

What does Robotic Process Automation - RPA have to do with robots?

Robots are not robotic-looking creates that move slowly and awkwardly – they’re actually instances of smart software! There’s a lot of variation in Robotic Process Automation technologies – they could be anything from a type of software that sits on a computer desktop, to a series of technological steps that improve the input, flow, transformation and output of data.

For example:

- Companies like Bacardi, Ferrero, Nestle or Unilever use Customer Automation Management (an enhanced form of RPA) to improve their supply chain processes.
- A major global wine business used this to achieve the perfect order and increase order accuracy from 98% to 99.7% while reducing costs by £612k per annum.
- A $20Bn consumer goods company used RPA to connect their SAP system & transport management system. They reduced transport costs by 4.5M per annum and staff costs by 67%.

Is RPA called by other names?

Yes. Multiple technologies use different terminology to articulate the fundamentals of Robotic Process Automation. While they all focus on a different angle of the automation of human tasks, it can also be described as:

- Business Process Improvement (BPI)
- Customer Automation Management (CAM)
- Cognitive Computing (CC)
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Intelligent Automation (IA).

Find out more about RPA in our easy-to-skim format by downloading this helpful infographic: “What is ‘Robotic Process Automation’? And Will Robots Take Our Jobs?”