- January 9, 2016
- Posted by: Bernard Mallia
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
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Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a rapidly growing sector fuelled by organisational endeavours to identify, automate and streamline their business processes. This is helping them cut costs, eliminate mistakes, improve efficiency and increase profitability.
RPA technology makes it much easier to integrate new systems into an existing enterprise software platform. It allows the integration of multiple programs that cannot be connected through an API automatically without human intervention or interference. By way of illustration, a company may have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for salespeople to use while making sales calls but they also have a separate accounting program for recording financial transactions from those sales calls. The 2 software platforms might operate independently and might be unable to communicate between them through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) or an Application Programming Interface (API). RPA can be used to create the link between these two systems so that data from each is able to flow back and forth seamlessly without any human effort or interference from users on either data silo. The result is more efficient processing of data which breaks down silos, and translates into better overall operational performance by businesses across all industries.
RPA is typically used to automate tasks like data entry and retrieval, document management, report generation and processing of transactions. By using RPA, the same process can be performed more quickly by software than by a human; essentially automating many boring and repetitive jobs that humans would rather not do anyway. The result is that businesses can cut costs associated with these jobs or eliminate them entirely while improving overall productivity and efficiency across the board.
Businesses need to be aware that as they automate these processes, the risk of data leakage increases. Employees could erroneously enter information into a system and not be able to find it again later on. Another potential issue is that the RPA software itself might accidentally include private or confidential information in its processing which can potentially expose businesses and their clients to security or data protection breaches and other serious problems if the process flows are not well thought out and correctly set up.
A low-risk solution would entail a secure remote data capture program and well-thought-out and audited workflows and dataflows before any RPA is implemented. This will help ensure that all transmissions are encrypted, and will typically also provide a fail-safe mechanism for logging all transmissions so that no sensitive data is overlooked or passed along inappropriately by mistake, human error or fraudulent intent.
Popular RPA platforms today include Automation Anywhere, UiPath and Blue Prism. However, with the advent of Microsoft’s entry into this market space in 2020, and the native connection capabilities that its new Power Platform is capable of handling, there is a natural gravitational push from the old RPA champions onto Microsoft’s Power Platform. The foregoing platforms are generic RPA software platforms that are capable of automating all kinds of business processes within any industry. This means that if you’re not sure exactly what you need to be doing next, these platforms can give you a good head start on identifying the tasks that are worth automating and the ones that aren’t. They also have extensive APIs which can allow for easier integration into existing enterprise software systems with minimum effort. For specific tasks with a narrow scope, however, task-specific RPA software is available for applications such as web scraping, mobile testing, banking and finance and healthcare, and these cost significantly less than the software platforms that have a broader range of applicability. These solutions can automate business processes in a very specific but limited way, which might be ideal for some processes and less ideal for others.
While RPA tools do provide for different degrees of automation, they are not considered to be Artificial Intelligence (AI). These solutions are meant to assist and augment an existing workforce with smart tools that can help them become more productive.
Robotic Process Automation has already contributed towards making significant leaps in the business world, just like other disruptive technologies have done before it. As organisations grapple with tightening deadlines while trying to keep up with ever-changing consumer demands and an increasingly-fickle labour market, it makes sense to turn your attention to tools that can help them streamline processes, as well as make their businesses more efficient. At Equinox we believe that RPA provides an opportunity to achieve this goal by automating highly-repetitive tasks that do not require much intelligence into simple rules that help you stay ahead of your competition.
The next time you’re looking to automate your processes, it might pay to start by taking a look at RPA, even before looking into AI.
Our RPA services are simple to implement and easy to maintain. This means it won’t impact your business operations or slow you down during implementation or change management phases, but will increasingly increase productivity for your team as implementation progresses.
- Robotic Process Automation of rote repetitive manual processes, reducing human errors and time taken to complete a process;
- Automation of new processes undertaken as part of business process re-engineering endeavours, which would have previously been done by humans;
- Consolidating multiple vendor systems into a single system;
- Building task-specific robots from scratch;
- MS Excel Spreadsheet automation;
- Automation of legacy applications that cannot be automated using APIs;
- Unintelligent document processing (if intelligence is required AI needs to be resorted to);
- Streamlining of document processing;
- Integration of soft and hard robotic applications using Arduino and Raspberry Pi hardware components;
- Automation of business processes using Automate Anywhere, UiPath, MS Power Apps (we are discontinuing Blue Prism support as of July 2023);
- RPA maintenance and support.