Robotic Process Automation for Business
Sometime over the past couple of years, what used to be called Business Process Automation (BPA has morphed into Robotic Process Automation (RPA). So, just what's the difference between the two?
BPA includes technologies such as imaging (scanning applications that help convert paper documents into digital files) and workflow (automatically routing documents from one step to another in a business process). Sometimes BPA includes integration of tasks between applications, requiring the assistance of a programmer.
The global market for RPA technologies will reach $8.75 billion by 2024.
~Grand View Research
How Does RPA Fit into Business?
It was the integrations between applications that led to the more sophisticated RPA. RPA uses “bots” (electronically controlled software user accounts) to log into applications and perform routine tasks like data entry or researching and correlating information across multiple systems, replacing the human effort previously required.
This means that instead of routing information from human to human to perform the tasks RPA enables companies to automate both the routing of information and the tasks themselves. RPA has matured and is used in companies large and small to help automate specific, routine business processes in areas such as accounts payable and human resources, reducing costs and improving business outcomes.
What’s Next for Business Automation?
According to industry analysts, Intelligent Automation (IA) will be the next breakthrough automation trend as companies begin to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to further automate non-routine processes and more complex information. AI applications can deal with probabilities rather than rules, which gives them more flexibility to adjust routing and rules based on a wider variety of input data, and AI technologies like machine learning enable automation of processes involving highly variable, nonstructured information.
How Will RPA and IA Affect Your Business?
Why should you pay attention to RPA and Intelligent Automation? Analysts with AIIM explain that 96% of companies believe process automation is critical to business success. (AIIM, 2017).
“We believe [intelligent automation] will be a core part of companies’ next generation operating models.”
~ McKinsey and Company
And, McKinsey and Company expains that companies who automate 50-70% of a task using IA, see average results such as:
- 25-35% annual cost reduction
- 50-60 % process time reduction
- Return on investment “most often” in triple-digit percentages (McKinsey, 2017)
We expect to see more companies and government agencies turning to automation to streamline processes and save money in today’s competitive landscape.
Business Process Automation (BPA) The use of technology (such as workflow, RPA, and IA) to automate business processes. Includes the routing of information from step to step and automatic processing of tasks.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) The automation of rules-based processes with structured data to facilitate sharing of information between applications. The systems are accessed by a user account controlled by a “bot.”
Intelligent Automation (IA) The automation of variable business processes with structured, semi-structured or unstructured data to facilitate sharing of data between applications and to process information. Encompasses RPA and workflow and adds the use of artificial intelligence technologies such as natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to automate complex business processes.