A Simple Explanation of Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
02 Aug 2022 3 mins read By Andrea Amato

A seemingly complex technology, the cousin of AI has some convincing to do with hesitant leaders. 


What is RPA? 


RPA, like many emerging technologies, assist businesses in meeting objectives by automating certain processes. RPA is multifaceted, where depending on the organisation, software (a ‘robot’) can quicken transaction times and transfigure data, among other capabilities. The aim of RPA, simplistically, is to help businesses take care of mundane, repetitive workplace tasks.  

For an everyday workplace context, RPA interpret data to later apply in a new way. If your organisation sends out weekly newsletters to customers, RPA can organise these so that you do not need to input customer data yourself every week. Given a set of instructions, the software can carry out error-free tasks at a high volume and speed, whilst mimicking human interaction qualities.  

Although RPA follows AI in the movement toward workplace automation, the two do not represent the same functionality. Where RPA mimics human actions through its software, AI attempts to simulate human intelligence through machines. Whilst RPA applies structured input and logic, AI applies unstructured input and develops its own logic. This distinction is important to include to avoid confusion when exploring RPA.  


The Advantages of RPA 


So far, we’ve learned that RPA is assistive in completing time-consuming work tasks, no matter the on-site or remote job. How does RPA transpire in practice? 


RPA is growing in popularity 


RPA is already well-known in many industries, largely for aiding communication strategies. If you’re familiar with automated customer care services or software that remembers passwords for you, you’ve previously experienced RPA in practice. With today’s workforce moving remote, RPA supports organisations in digitised services such as online forms for customers. 


Increased productivity 


In removing the need for human intervention in repetitive tasks, employees can focus on work goals that are not bombarded by ad hoc activities. It seems only natural that in focusing on more important tasks, employees feel and are more productive in the workplace.  


Error-free and consistent 


All organisations are wary of the importance of consistency, in that inconsistent processes can hinder consumer and client relationships. RPA can be tailored to your business needs and be programmed to complete tasks at a high volume without any errors. Whether you require RPA to help onboard new recruits or assist the recruitment process in the first place, software can produce excellent results and keep your work consistent.  


The Potential Disadvantages of RPA 


Similar to many emerging technologies, a major concern around implementing RPA follows redundancy. However, IT jobs are developed to support human intervention, so rather than replace jobs RPA works alongside them. The difference is robots are able to complete tasks at a much faster rate than humans.  

Further, organisations need to hire staff that are skilled to work with RPA. RPA requires human intervention such as programming to meet business needs, and like many technologies, the software requires regular maintenance. Although a lack of technical ability concerns employers, there are much more benefits to be had that are missed out on when turning away from RPA for this reason. 

Finally, RPA does possess limitations. Not all workplace processes can be automated, therefore requiring human intervention to complete those tasks instead. Adopting RPA as a new technology can mean great change for an organisation, and hesitancy from employees can be expected. Nevertheless, with the right tools and direction, implementing RPA can be smooth and minimally disruptive. Like with all technologies, businesses must assess their needs and objectives, and weigh out whether RPA can be beneficial to their specific jobs in Malta or elsewhere. 

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