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What is robotic process automation?

Question:

What is robotic process automation?

Answer:

DMG defines robotic process automation (RPA) as “the use of computer software (also known as server-based ‘robots’), to process transactions, manipulate data, trigger responses, initiate new actions and communicate with other digital systems to automate the completion of high-volume, repetitive and non-cognitive tasks.” RPA applications automate activities based on user-defined rules, generally set up in drag-and-drop graphical flowchart designers. RPA administration environments are generally not complex, enabling the subject matter experts who are most familiar with business processes to maintain them, rather than IT staff.

RPA solutions can be leveraged throughout enterprises to automate a variety of activities, including cut-and-paste tasks, populating the same data in more than one solution, processing repetitive transactions, etc. For example, in contact centers and back-office operating departments there is often a need for employees to enter the same information in two or more systems, e.g., the transaction processing system and the customer relationship management (CRM) system. Having the data in multiple systems is necessary, however, it is much more cost effective and accurate for an RPA application to handle these types of tasks than to have an employee do them manually.

RPA solutions add value by completing tasks in a fraction of the time required by humans, without making errors. RPAs do not take sick time, require lunch or take breaks. They can be programmed to work around the clock, if needed. RPAs can be programmed to alert managers or administrators about anomalies as soon as they are encountered, enabling humans to intervene quickly. Additionally, RPAs can be programmed to handle many of the mundane, routine tasks that are tedious for employees, freeing them to focus on higher-value, more complex and engaging activities that make their jobs more rewarding.