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What is robotics process automation and why should your organisation know about it?
02 June 2018

What is robotics process automation and why should your organisation know about it?

In this day and age, modern organisations consist of a wide range of sophisticated technology solutions and end users to achieve objectives, says Motheo Motlhabane, Senior RPA Analyst at Singular Systems.

As is often the case, the operational delivery requirements are constantly shifting: at a rate that is faster than an industry or organisation is able to keep up with. This results in a variety of new technologies being brought into the fold, and people being used to fill the gap in between these technologies.

It is undoubtable that, at times, the rational judgment of human beings can be second to none. Having taken this into account (and having given it the recognition it duly deserves), an in-depth assessment of organisations has proven that a substantial number of technology-driven processes that are carried out by people, adhere to a repeatable and inflexible rule set.

What Does RPA Do?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an approach that proposes the use of a virtual workforce, which promises to deliver on-going accuracy, consistency, availability and scalability. Organisations have realised the importance of IT solutions in their day-to-day operations.

What is also of utmost importance is that deliverables are met as efficiently and accurately as possible. RPA solutions, the virtual workforce, are organised in such a way that they execute work functions within the confines stipulated by organisational business units.

Imagine a new intern who goes through rapid training on how to use a certain IT platform, then executes repeatable tasks 24 hours a day for seven days a week. Good luck trying to find an intern with that much enthusiasm, who never falters or tires.

Bringing a software robot into this equation removes the risk of human error entirely. Better yet, software robots can do the work exponentially faster and multiple robots can be deployed to achieve scale and process a large volume of assigned work. There is a lot of value that can be extracted from this type scalability and availability as RPA can be ramped up and down on demand.

I have not yet even mentioned anything about the other pillars of RPA, namely, artificial intelligence, cognitive computing and machine learning: those are much more complex subjects beyond the scope of this article.

Will RPA disrupt my business and employees?

Remember, disruption is not a negative word in the technology sense. RPA does not necessarily (at least, not yet) aim to disrupt the normal flow of IT solutions and governance within organisations. Its aim is to fit in seamlessly into the very same IT framework that governs a human work force. South African organisations in industries like banking, insurance, telecommunications, to name a few, are becoming educated as to the benefits of this technology and are enthusiastically implementing some proof-of-concepts.

A multi-industry effect is now underway in the form of robotic process automation, in that software technology is no longer just used as a work task enabler, but it is now evolving into a form that is able to mimic human interaction with software platforms via front-end interaction.

Conclusion:

Part of the education around RPA involves understanding how it can enable human beings (not replace them) and complement our unique abilities. The accuracy of RPA, combined with the soft skills of human rational thinking is perhaps taking the best of both worlds and combining them into a superior service offering for organisations of the 21st century. Does this sound like some kind of 4th Industrial Revolution?

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