Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about RPA
What does RPA mean?
The 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. RPA systems are generally based on artificial intelligence (AI). An RPA system watches the user perform a task in the application’s graphical user interface (GUI), and then perform the automation by repeating those tasks directly in the GUI. This simplifies the programming of the system and increases productivity while lowering cost.
What does RPA stand for in technology?
RPA stands for Robotic 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. RPA systems are generally based on artificial intelligence (AI). An RPA system watches the user perform a task in the application’s graphical user interface (GUI), and then perform the automation by repeating those tasks directly in the GUI. This simplifies the programming of the system and increases productivity while lowering cost.
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.
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 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, technology hasn’t had a public champion promoting it. 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 programmings. 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.
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.
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What can a digital worker do?
A digital worker (also known as a bot) can do most of the routine tasks that are carried out by human workers. They access applications by taking over the keyboard and mouse of a computer, similar to the way a human would interact with them. Of course, a digital worker’s cognitive capabilities are lower than a human worker’s and they are therefore better suited to routine, repetitive and rule-based processes.
What are the various cost components to consider when deploying a digital worker?
There are three components to consider when deploying a digital worker:
The software platform’s license costs(if not free); Infrastructure to run the software: this cost is similar to the cost of giving a human worker a laptop; Training cost (in other words how much it costs to configure the software): this depends on complexity but is comparable to training a human worker on the very same business process. costs for deploying a digital worker can be recovered within a few months, while benefits like improved customer service and higher accuracy are available immediately.
Do RPA projects typically take long to implement?
RPA projects can be deployed in as little as a few days and up to a few weeks. The best approach is to begin by enabling smaller processes or tasks and then growing from there.
Are my processes suitable for RPA?
Most routine, repetitive processes are suitable for RPA. Evaluate if a process is suitable or not by considering the following: Can the process, especially the exceptions, be documented? How many times a day, week or month does the process run? What effort is needed each time the process runs? What are the benefits of automation: for example, improved accuracy, reliability, response times, better scalability, productivity?
Is much ongoing support needed for my digital workforce?
In most cases, ongoing support is negligible.
Digital workers are trained to provide feedback on their work via email or logs. On occasions when an application is unreliable: for example when response times vary or there are inconsistencies in the business processes, human intervention might be needed. In these cases, an intervention can be managed by a support team or an individual’s input can be planned into the digital workers’ processes.
What is the difference between AI and RPA?
AI and RPA are complementary.
AI is a broader field that deals with how computers interpret and analyze data. It is more analogous to how the human brain thinks. RPA, on the other hand, is automating processes as a sequence of tasks or defined steps similar to spreadsheet macros. For some tasks, such as extracting data from an invoice or scanned document, a digital worker needs capabilities similar to that of a human. At this point, AI would step in to provide the cognitive capabilities needed and would need to be trained over a number of iterations. On the flip side, an AI algorithm needs to fit into a business process to be of value. RPA can provide the surrounding infrastructure such as sourcing data and taking action on the output of the AI algorithm.
What training does my staff need to collaborate with digital workers?
The simple answer is No; staff collaborates with digital workers in the same way they collaborate with a human team or team member.
How will digital workers complement my human workers?
Digital workers will enhance human workers’ lives by automating routine and repetitive tasks freeing them to focus on more cognitive tasks and in providing a greater direct customer experience. Eventually, when all computing applications seamlessly talk to each other, all routine tasks will be automated. In the meantime, there are gaps between applications that need to be filled by humans. Digital workers are typically taking over tasks that humans don’t want to or shouldn’t be doing.
Does the deployment of digital workers require changes to computing applications?
No, it doesn’t. One of the biggest benefits of digital workers is that they are non-intrusive and don’t need any application changes. They are very good at linking standalone systems without the need for expensive interfaces. Digital workers interact with applications just like a human would – by providing keyboard and mouse input and reading the screen. This makes digital workers as versatile as humans and quick to deploy.
Are digital workers scalable?
Scaling a digital workforce, either for a single robot or hundreds, takes only a few hours to do. Buy a license(if needed), allocate infrastructure, create application access and enable it to start allocating. Some of the activities such as infrastructure and application access are similar to recruiting a human worker. Beyond that, it is much faster!