From Macros to RPA now to Intelligent Automation

Updated: Apr 1

Robotics Process Automation (RPA) has been a "thing" for decades. Back when I entered the IT workforce, it was called "macros". That was the late-1990's. Ha! Today it is called RPA and is an industry full of consultants, software leaders, and worldwide adoption behind it now.

RPA is the use of technology to enable people to configure software robots for process transactions; manipulating data; triggering responses; and communicating with other digital applications, software programs, and systems. Depending on the article or industry "read", RPA is the "automation of repetitive tasks".

The Age of Macros

First, what is the RPA difference from the early 2000s macros and scripts? Well, macros and scripts were confined to single systems and were typically to perform tasks within single IT applications.

RPA robots are the new and improved Macro

RPA takes Macros to a new level of automation from IT-centric to Business-centric. RPA provides the functionality of automating tasks across many software applications and infrastructure systems, enabling organizations with complex infrastructures to leverage value from automation. RPA tools have a "sweet spot" with tasks, processes, and workflows that have repeatable, predictable interactions between users and software.

Examples of this are users looking at a piece of data or document and then going to look up data from a web database (like competitive pricing, DMV database, Address lookup, TIN lookup, etc...). Then a user copies data from the lookup into local spreadsheets or directly into a software application. Another example is separated software systems like a Vendor portal and ERP system. An organization today may have a disconnected Vendor portal for vendor onboarding and maintenance. When a Vendor uploads new data or documents, a user may have to manually take that data and transfer (the old "copy and paste") it to the organization's ERP system having several steps to get to the related screens. Any documents may have to be downloaded locally and then upload to the organization's digital document repository. Does this sound familiar? Does it sound efficient or secure? Do you realize that performing these tasks manually leaves digital artifacts from the transactions all over workstations and servers that are not secure or compliant? RPA can automation these and like tasks with robots that can make the transactions secure and compliant.

So, RPA automates repetitive tasks in structured processes (does the same thing every time with no variation).

Intelligent Automation

But …. when looking at business processes, there is always the "but". But what if the tasks are performed the same way all the time say … 99% of the time. And it's this one condition that pops up that requires the task to be completed differently. Well, that is where Intelligent Automation kicks in.

Unlike RPA, again is designed to automate routine, repetitive tasks; Intelligent Automation has the functionality to automate non-routine tasks. This is where automation meets the "but" in every business process. Intelligent Automation solves automation challenges found in business processes that require user decisions, intuition, creativity, persuasion, and even problem-solving. Most of these human inputs and interventions in any business process are responses to data and documents that a user evaluates to determine the best response or conclusion. This is where a cognitive technology that provides human or user like capabilities becomes critically important.

When a solution combines cognitive technology with RPA technology, the result is a solution that enables organizations to overcome the pitfalls and shortcomings of previous automation approaches. For an organization to harness the power of automation to streamline both routine and highly complex business processes and user task workflows is the beginning of creating an intelligent, self-driving enterprise.

Getting Started with Intelligent Automation

Whether you're looking to easy in and explore ideas; or you have been researching and have become excited about what RPA and IA technologies can do for your organization … contact Tromba. We know that now is not the time to experiment. Now is the time to transform, improve, and attain excellence!

Even before contacting Tromba, I will leave you with some guidance. Organizations have been adopting and improving automation for years. Here are some best practices that others can give you.

Tags: artificial intelligence, Intelligent automation, IPA, RPA, Kofax RPA, Kofax TotalAgility, Tromba Technologies

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