RPA is a terrible Name

Why Robotic Process Automation Is A Terrible Name

The word “Robotic” is misleading

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is up there behind Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the list of disruptive technologies for the corporate world. It gives businesses the opportunity to automate processes without needing to fund hundreds of thousands – sometimes millions – of pounds worth of IT projects. It can be a quick fix to large-scale IT projects such as system integration, data migration, or document generation.

I think it’s important that we take a closer look at the comparison between RPA and AI as they are far too frequently confused as being the same thing. A good way to summarise the difference is that RPA is software that is able to follow instructions (read this, click here, send this email) and AI has the ability to make the instructions/decisions that make up the process based on each individual case’s characteristics. It’s this difference that means that RPA alone will not be the solution for many use cases.

Such expectations can lead to RPA being used for processes that just aren’t ready for RPA. Here are just a few examples:

  • A ‘robot’ is to use a system that is due for a revamp in the coming months, giving extra functionality to the feature being used in the process. This kind of system upgrade would likely require a complete redevelopment of the automated process to deal with the new layout/features of the application.
  • A ‘robot’ is tasked with searching for the best deals for used cars given a make/model. The problem is that what makes the “best deal” is most of the time far more complicated than “the one with the lowest price”.
  • A ‘robot’ needs to take incoming emails and set up the corresponding orders on a CRM. The problem here is that there are infinite ways to write an email asking for a specific product to be delivered on a specific day.

In all of these examples there would be simple solutions that would make such processes suitable for RPA, but without knowing that RPA is not actually very intelligent these vital steps to make a process suitable for RPA could – and will – be easily overlooked. Click here to find out more about these vital steps.

It would be cruel to provide a problem without at least a suggested solution, so here’s mine: Process Automation Software (PAS).