What is RPA?
At the turn of the year, I wrote an article on the top trends to watch in data management for 2020. One of the three trends I highlighted was data automation. Data automation is a simple concept that applies sophisticated technology, called Robotic Process Automation (RPA), behind the scenes to automate repetitive and routine business tasks traditionally performed by humans. This concept might sound vaguely familiar to those that implemented first generation automation tools, such as screen scraping and scripting to assist with task automation. However, today’s technology can simulate much more including:
- Logging into applications
- Data entry
- Data cleansing
- Email generation
- And a myriad of other predictable, repeatable tasks
The goal of automating these tasks is to speed up processing, eliminate errors, and reduce costs.
How to get started with RPA
Start by understanding the various aspects of your business and prioritizing the pain points that could be positively impacted by automation. For example:
- Look for ways to boost productivity
- Enhance customer satisfaction
- Reduce costs through automation or workflow simplification
RPA is well suited to automate user interaction with software by:
- Replicating keyboard strokes and mouse movements
- Executing data entry
- Performing system integrations
- And other related tasks
RPA can also take things a step further and engage machine learning (ML) techniques to learn on the basis of a human. By feeding ML training data sets to RPA, it can fine tune processes and make them more sophisticated over time.
What makes RPA useful
RPA has the eye of the c-suite because it can deliver high returns on investment by catalyzing employee productivity, improving process efficiency, and providing built-in exception handling and audit capabilities. RPA can also allow for superior accuracy on tasks that humans grow bored with and make careless mistakes on. If your company is looking to automate workflows and enhance back-office integration, RPA has emerged as a next-generation technology that should be considered.