We have already experienced the ability to talk to your smart phone or computer and ask for answers to questions or have simple tasks be undertaken.  Imagine being able to tell your computer to do a more complex task involving many steps, for example – finishing a report for you. But is it really possible, and effective?

This is exactly where Robotics Process Automation comes into play. RPA systems are used to automate basic and repetitive tasks, which may involve many steps. Let’s start with the basic definition for RPA.

What is RPA?

Robotic Process Automation consists of 3 major components:

Robotic – An entity which is capable of being programmed by a computer for doing complex tasks is known as a Robot. In terms of RPA, this task would consist of learning to mimic human actions.
Process – A process is a sequence of actions/activities or steps/tasks taken in order to achieve a particular end.
Automation – When a task/an activity happens automatically, i.e. without human intervention.

Hence, Robotic Process Automation means:
Mimicking human behavior to execute a sequence of steps/actions which leads to a meaningful end without human intervention.

RPA has been a buzzword for some time now, but it’s clearly taking shape. It is able to mimic human activity, automating mundane tasks and enabling business users to devote more time to serving customers or to focus on other higher value and strategic activities.

Why use RPA?

Robotic process automation can offer many benefits and cost advantages. Below are some of those benefits:

Lower Costs –
Robotics can be used to replace repetitive tasks that human laborers might otherwise be doing, resulting in cutting operating costs and improving efficiency. RPA vendors estimate a cost savings of 20 – 60 % when deploying such technologies. That alone is enough to make the move to more automated systems.

Improved Efficiency
The beauty of RPA is that it is designed to alleviate human workers of their mundane, repetitive daily tasks. When automated technology handles these tasks and workflows, the process runs much quicker and subsequently more efficiently.

Elimination of Human Error –
Even the most careful human worker can make an occasional mistake. Unfortunately, sometimes these errors can prove to be incredibly costly. With robotic process automation technology, this risk is eliminated, resulting in greater accuracy.

Eliminates customer pain points –
A successfully implemented virtual workforce can enhance your customer’s experience and eliminate common customer pain points. For example, traditionally when processing a loan, the customer has to fill out several forms, submit required documents. These are then sent for processing, review and approvals. The overall process can take several weeks, with multiple human touch-points, after which the customer gets a feedback on the status of their loan application. With RPA, a robot can take over the complete process, reducing turnaround time to a few days or less.

Improved capacity for SLA analysis –
RPA solutions allow management to know the progress of SLAs in real time. Dashboards tracking the output of your virtual workforce address a frequent problem of operations and back-office managers – understanding where his/her team stands and how volumes are evolving. While RPA has many benefits, there continues to be a clear need for humans in the workforce. Automation allows for traditional jobs to become more fluid, ensuring more effective human labor. With freedom from high-volume, low complexity administrative work, humans can continue to drive and innovate in areas such as customer service, expertise-based tasks, the development of new products, etc.

How does RPA work?
It involves software bots that are programmed and trained to replicate the actions of humans interacting with a software application, via a user interface or through an API. Once trained, these bots perform simple tasks exactly like humans, but doing it all significantly faster and with more accuracy than any individual could. All RPA tools provide an out-of-the-box library of pre-trained activities that a bot can perform. RPA developers just need to drag-drop them in their process design and automate the tasks. RPA also provides recorders so that the bot can watch a human perform certain activity (e.g. entering data into an ERP system) and record it so the bot can execute it when asked. Features like these make RPA solution development extremely fast, as often there is no coding involved.

List of RPA Tools

Robotic process automation (RPA) tools perform “if, then, else” statements on structured data, typically using a combination of user interface (UI) interactions, or by connecting to APIs to drive client servers, mainframes or HTML code. An RPA tool operates by mapping a process in the RPA tool language for the software “robot” to follow, with runtime allocated to execute the script by a control dashboard. There are many tools that can be used for RPA. But, if you talk about the market leaders, it is the famous trio (Blue Prism, UiPath & Automation Anywhere). Let’s focus more on features for these tools.

Blue Prism –
Blue Prism is the pioneering Robotic Process Automation software as recognized by Gartner. BluePrism software platform enables agile and cost-effective business operations through rapid automation of manual, rules-based, back office administrative processes, reducing cost and also improving accuracy by creating a digital workforce. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for the services industry has emerged as a trend as discussed in The Economist, The New York Times and Forbes. Recently Blue Prism was recognized by Gartner Group as a “Cool Vendor”.

Automation Anywhere –
Automation Anywhere is the developer of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software. The Automation Anywhere Enterprise helps companies empower virtual workforce by process automation. This tool combines conventional RPA with intellectual elements like natural language understanding and reading any unstructured data. Automation Anywhere allows organizations to automate the processes which are performed by humans. The Automation Anywhere tool can automate end to end business operations for companis.

UiPath –
UiPath is a well-known Enterprise Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Software. UiPath empowers and enables businesses and enterprises to automate high volume, repetitive, labor-intensive tasks that require more time to complete.

The three main products of the UiPath RPA platform are as follows:

  • UiPath Studio – A leading tool that provides users with the ability to design automation processes with the help of diagrams aided by visual representation.
  • UiPath Robot – Just like a human, an UiPath robot executes the processes built in UiPath Studio. Their robots can work unattended or as assistants. Unattended robots do not need human intervention in any environment whereas, assistants need a human to trigger the process.
  • UiPath Orchestrator – It is an example of a web application that provides users with the ability to deploy, schedule, supervise, and control Robots and processes. It also has the option of business exception handling through centralized work queues.

Detailed Comparison

Sr. No Features Automation Anywhere UIPATH BLUEPRISM
1 Learning Basic developer Visual design Ability to develop and control
2 Re-usability Yes Yes Yes
3 Cognitive Capability Medium Medium Medium
5 Accuracy Reasonable accuracy across mediums Shines in citrix automation designed for bpo automation Desktop, web and Citrix automation available
6 Recorders Yes (faster process mapping). Yes (faster process mapping). No
7 Architecture Client server architecture Web based orchestrator Client server architecture
8 Process Designer Script Based Visual Process Designer Visual Process Designer
9 Reliability High Moderate Very High
10 Pricing Higher cost of deployment Aggressive, attractive entry level pricing The high cost of acquisition limited training available.
11 Certification and Education Recently launched Free online training and certification programs Certification programs available

Future Scope of RPA –
RPA will be widely used in different domains and industries like BFSI, Manufacturing, Retail, Analytics, Aviation, Oil and Gas and Legal.
Gartner estimates that by the end of 2022, 85% of large and very large organizations will have deployed some form of RPA. The growth in adoption will be driven by average RPA prices decreasing by approximately 10 – 15 % by 2019, but also because organizations expect to achieve better business outcomes with the technology, such as reduced costs, increased accuracy and improved compliance. RPA is often seen as a threat to the workplace, but the reality is that it’s a good thing for business and is meant to work hand in hand with people. They work better together. Decisions can ultimately be made more quickly because businesses will have accurate and timely data at their fingertips, allowing greater control.

This blog was written by: Nikhil Shetkar