Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is not as new for the IT world as it may seem.
Three programs could be considered the ancestors of RPA.
Screen scrapers from the early 90’s, and specifically their ability to scan large databases be it statistical information or it’s visual representation.
Workflow automation as a term was coined on 1920’s to name new developments in industrialisation, but it wasn’t until the 90’s when it was transferred to IT and popularised. Workflow automation consisted of reading contact data, invoice values, ordered commodities data, transferring them to the company’s database and informing the relevant worker. As a result, there was no need to manually enter piles of data and risk errors.
Finally, in 1956 at a conference in Dartmouth College, the term ”artificial intelligence” first appeared. It originally referred to the capability of computer systems which could independently perform tasks hitherto reserved for humans – such as fraud detection or financial planning.
The history of the term RPA – Robotic Process Automation goes back 20 years.
The value of RPA comes from allowing the users to automate and manage workflow by a “drag and drop” method, regardless of their coding skills.
RPA, unlike screen scrapers, uses optical character recognition(OCR) software to adapt to changing systems and websites without human help. The most advanced RPA solutions incorporate AI features allowing software to deal with exceptions and learn to solve emerging problems.
In the first decade of the 21 c. business noticed the fast development and ease of implementation, as well as the possibilities RPA opens when it comes to different problems coming from arduous, repeatable activities.
That is when software robots where deployed to automate functional and efficiency testing (ERP) to replace manual activities that were repeatable, dull and therefore prone to mistakes of the bored human mind.
But the first industry to fully appreciate the possibilities of RPA was BPO. The benefits of RPA for BPO consisted of radical cost reduction(RPA bots are usually 50% cheaper than offshore players); improved performance (RPA bots are capable of working 24/7/365 with minimal huma intervention); and increased customer satisfaction( agility, transparence and reaction time provided by RPA improve customer relations).
Other problems that can be solved by robotic process automation implementation plague insurance, healthcare and financial services. These are cumulative problems in back-office, where personnel and wages decisions, post-sale service or credit analytics take place – where workers deal with massive amounts of data and repeatable processes.
These are currently the primary fields of RPA development.
But the future of robotic process automation lies in AI and cognitive calculations.