Does your business want AI or RPA?


We are living through interesting times. Consider that an estimated fifth of US businesses have adopted Robotic Process Automation (RPA), yet many businesses regard this as Artificial Intelligence technology (AI).

As it stands, two major technological factions are competing for business investment, notably RPA and AI. Your business may be on the cusp of a technological breakthrough, courtesy of innovative technology, but is it RPA or AI?

Reasons for Considering AI for Your Business:

AI is artificial intelligence. This is one of the most hyped technological innovations of our time, and routinely trumps other technologies in the media. The business space is wasting no time bringing AI technology to the mainstream. AI technology can be used for all manner of business activities, including interactive chatbots to answering customer questions and queries, scheduling activities, lead generation tools, and checking of content. AI technology is perceived as the equivalent of a competent employee who performs a task and thinks about the reasons why the task is being undertaken.

RPA – as opposed to AI – is technology used to automate routine tasks. It is less costly than AI, and certainly more effective than humans for processing routine functions and activities. AI is a brain-style construct that learns about why things behave a certain way, how to respond to questions, queries and comments, and how best to optimize the workflow. AI a.k.a. machine learning is geared towards righting the wrongs in a company, through fact checking, error checking, consistency of performance and so forth. While RPA is less costly than AI technology, it is highly effective at performing repetitive tasks. RPA doesn’t have the ability to understand past behavior, but it is certainly conducive to the implementation of AI technology in the future.

Reasons for Considering RPA For Your Business:

When a business is involved in the repetitive processing of tasks, RPA software can help tremendously. These rules-based processes are typically performed by people on computing devices. These RPA software systems – robotic process automation – and associated hardware, are fully capable of interacting in a human-like manner. These ‘robots’ mimic human behaviour by performing repetitive and mundane tasks such as completing electronic forms, entering data, opening emails and attachments, etcetera.

RPA technology is reliant on the user interface. Any amendments to the software effectively invalidate the RPA technology. This remains a primary concern for the mass deployment and adoption of RPA technology for businesses.

Various leading solution architects and engineers stress the importance of maintaining stability with user interfaces while RPA technologies are being implemented. These upstream/downstream changes can cause delays in production where RPA technology is active. The RPA software requires ongoing interactions with the user interface, rather than engaging via API.

According to a study by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), RPA usage numbers 44% among businesses. Some 1,000 mid-large-sized organisations including IT professionals were surveyed in the study and some 20% are currently making use of bots with existing screens.

In fact, many sectors of the business world are seriously considering deploying Robotic Process Automation. These range from transportation enterprises to utilities and energy providers, finance and banking, government and retail operations. RPA software robots automate routine tasks and complex processes that are typically performed by humans.

Many industries are manually processing their information technology activity. This has a negative impact on employee motivation, company performance, and retention. What is particularly interesting is that many of these tasks can be automated. RPA is more than merely automating routine activities; it is geared towards employee retention, enhanced customer satisfaction, and greater efficacy of business transactions. RPA systems are designed with a future focus. They are adaptive technologies which are capable of voice recognition, natural language processing, and more.

What are The Business Benefits of RPA?

  1. RPA project implementation typically takes several weeks, as opposed to several years with human implementation of projects.
  2. RPA technology is programmed to perform, with maximum compliance at all times.
  3. RPA technology pays for itself over time and is substantially cheaper than human employees.
  4. RPA technology is fully scalable, interactive with other RPA systems, or easily decommissioned if required.
  5. RPA technology is capable of running around-the-clock and does not require sick leave, lunch breaks, paternity/maternity leave, and so forth.
  6. RPA systems can be fully audited for performance-based criteria.
  7. RPA technology can be used for automatic processing of mundane activities such as fraud detection, claims processing, email, form checking, and converting fax images to readable text among others.

RPA and AI technology can work in unison if need be. However, for many businesses, RPA technology will suffice, and AI is not required. As the complexity of operations increases and real-life challenges are brought to bear, AI technology can certainly lighten the load for customer service departments, billing and invoicing, and associated systems.

AI implementation works best when a functional structure is already in place. RPA performs that function and can be infused with AI technology at a later stage. Some folks believe that AI is the cognitive component of RPA.

This fusion – known as Cognitive Robotic Process Automation (CRPA) is capable of performing judgement-based activities via natural language processing, speech recognition, and machine learning. This is the next step and will prove to be a quantum leap for businesses once it is fully developed.