What is Robotic Process Automation?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a technology where software programs – comprising of automated scripts – help in completing tasks that humans usually perform, wherein the programs are referred to as software robots, or “bots” for short.

Gartner defines RPA as “A productivity tool that allows a user to configure one or more scripts to activate specific keystrokes in an automated fashion (in order to) mimic or emulate selected tasks within an overall business or IT process.”

To better understand RPA, let’s first explore its origins.

Learn More: What is intelligent process automation?


The Origins of RPA

Automation can be traced back to the industrial revolution when machines were first used to mimic and reduce human labor. It helped in manufacturing goods in bulk but relied heavily on analog equipment. This form of robotic automation is still present (and vital) in the industrial sector.

However, in the last couple of decades, businesses have come to rely upon a different kind of automation which is software-based.

Since, the 1990s, a range of software is being used for both backend and frontend jobs. Consider a wholesale shop, where one of the tasks involves manually entering data for all invoices. What this usually means is keeping an endless list of consumer information and filling up a lot of data that can be used for marketing and sales.

In short, it’s an operational nightmare involving many frequently repetitive manual tasks. Similar to the assembly line on a factory floor in the industrial age. We are way past that, and these old digital technologies need to be automated.

That’s where Robotic process automation comes into the picture. RPA works by placing a software bot in the workflow. The bot uses the same digital interface that a human worker has access to, this usually means that you need to know exactly the order in which tasks are being performed to automate them.

Learn more: IPA vs RPA – What’s the difference?


Top RPA Trends to Watch for in 2023

Robotic process automation is now a mature technology. With enablers like task mining and process mining. RPA gives companies a detailed strategic understanding of how they can automate tasks.

The key trends characterizing the RPA market today are:

  • High growth: According to Gartner, RPA is witnessing double-digit year-on-year growth, a trend that will continue into 2023. And the total end-user spending on RPA this year is predicted to be around $3.3 billion.
  • Diversification: RPA no longer encompasses a set of automation scripts wrapped up in a GUI. Cognitive RPA vendors and enablement tech providers are pushing the boundaries with low code platforms, process mining, task mining, and automation studios on top of existing
  • Hard to scale: Traditional RPA has proved difficult to scale. Just 3% of companies using RPA have managed to scale their digital workforce.
  • Super Beneficial: When RPA is effective, it’s extremely valuable to the firm. It may provide ROI in less than a year and replace an average of 20% of FTE capacity. As per Deloitte, the advantages of robotic process automation can be felt in these areas: compliance (92%), quality or lower error rates (90%), productivity (86%), and cost reduction (59%).

Learn More: 4 Reasons You Can’t Scale RPA Without Task Mining

Prerequisites for Robotic Process Automation

According to Deloitte, about 78% of the companies are planning to increase their spending on RPA over the next three years. But one of the main concerns in RPA adoption is scaling.

The answer lies in Task mining.

Task mining capturing employees’ screen recordings, keystrokes, mouse clicks, and data entries – the desktop-level event data, and applying tools such as natural language processing and optical character recognition to interpret the data and generate meaningful insights.   

Using task mining, you can create detailed business processes along with component tasks, and then directly feed this data into an automation studio. The studio will automatically generate scripts that can be used to automate the work you are planning to do.

Learn More: Understand Task Mining and Process Mining  


Pros and Cons of RPA

The benefits of automation technology outweigh the cons. It makes you more resilient since you are lean and efficient in FTE usage. It reduces errors and improves quality which has positive effects on the end customer experience, no matter the industry where you operate.

However, there are a few considerations to remember. First, automation can introduce an added complexity to your IT landscape if implemented incorrectly. Secondly, sometimes employees can find it be difficult to deal with RPA if they are not properly aligned.


The Scout work graph advantage

Before deploying robotic process automation, it is essential to understand how users interact with systems and create a digital trail that can unlock key enterprise insights. Often, enterprises will map their business based on event logs from systems of records such as ERPs and CRMs to understand the relationship between these structured data sources – but miss out on one key variable – unstructured data created by employees’ interactions with software. Task mining tools provide a robust foundation for building and scaling automation deployments.  Through Soroco ScoutTM, powered by the world’s first work graph platform, organizations can unlock this data source to discover areas where inefficiencies occur and are prime candidates for RPA-centric automation.    

Start your ScoutTM journey today!    


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