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Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Last updated: July 11, 2021

What Does Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Mean?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the practice of automating routine business practices with software agents (bots) that perform tasks automatically. RPA programming plays an important role in data preprocessing and can be thought of as a more sophisticated version of macros.

In the past, if an electronic form was missing a price, traditional automation software would flag the form as having an exception and issue an alert. An employee on the receiving end of the alert would then handle the exception by looking up the correct price and entering it manually on the form. With RPA technology, however, the software is able to look up the missing information and complete the form without human assistance.

Today, RPA technology is one of the fastest growing categories of enterprise application automation and sophisticated RPA bots can be taught a workflow that encompasses multiple steps, including:

  • Receiving forms.
  • Issuing a receipt for the form.
  • Checking the form for completeness.
  • Filling in missing information.
  • Forwarding a completed, validated form to its next destination.
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Techopedia Explains Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Robotic process automation uses artificial intelligence to build software robots that automate tasks that once required human intervention. While mechanical robots have long been used to automate factory floors, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have made it possible for clerical tasks to be automated as well.

The key difference between RPA bots and traditional mechanical robots is that RPA bots are trained instead of programmed. This type of software robot uses machine learning algorithms to free up human workers and allow them to concentrate on more complicated tasks rather than routine work. Benefits include the following:

  • Cost-savings.
  • Increased accuracy.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Improved scalability.
  • Relatively low-cost implementation.
  • Ability to shift human focus to higher-level work.
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