Busting the Myth: Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Posted on December 7, 2016 by Liang McIntosh-Yee
For decades, technology has made operating a business easier, automating processes that once would have painstakingly been completed by hand. Everything from manufacturing to accounting can be assisted by software, developed specifically to take over basic business processes. Until recently, this type of automation could only do what it was programmed to do, with an understood inability to make adjustments for any changes.
Machine learning stands to change all of that. Advancements in technology have allowed devices to adjust behavior according to patterns. Over time, this leads to behavior that can mimic human reason and logic, making robotic process automation (RPA) a serious benefit to any organization. However, as consumers prepare for the future, there are a few misconceptions that have emerged.
RPA Will Take Our Jobs
In the pre-internet era, experts predicted that computers would one day replace most of the jobs humans held. Yet even with all of the changes technology has brought to the workplace, there are still plenty of jobs for humans. In industrial settings, technology has automated some areas of product development, but more humans are needed to manage operations and handle higher-level tasks. In business settings, automation has freed up professionals to focus on higher-level, career-building roles, with software handling mundane tasks such as matching invoices and processing payroll. RPA merely shifts the daily workload to managerial- and communication-based positions, which leads to a more satisfying career.
RPA Looks Robotic
Perhaps it can be blamed on sci-fi movies, but often the claim that “robots will take jobs” calls to mind human-looking robots similar to C3PO in Star Wars. In actuality, RPA simply refers to sophisticated software, stored on the devices businesses and consumers use every day. The solutions used to power products like robotic vacuum cleaners and smart refrigerators qualify as RPA, since they automate manual household processes.
RPA Is Error-Proof
Some have made the mistaken assumption that RPA is completely safe from the types of errors that plague humans. While robots don’t have the issues with distraction and “off days” that humans do, their errors often come in the form of translating things literally. Unlike a human worker, who can make adjustments based on logic and reasoning, RPA translates each command as it’s given. Even with advancements in machine learning, bugs are possible, which means humans may always be needed to double-check the work performed by RPA solutions.
RPA Is Expensive
Another myth surrounds the cost of RPA-based solutions, with professionals assuming they come with a hefty price tag. In fact, RPA solutions range in price from free to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the desired features and the size of the business needing them. For almost every business operation, an automated solution exists, so it’s important to research available software before choosing to continue to conduct a process manually.
RPA has made it easier for businesses to maintain efficiency using software instead of human workers. However, the shift toward automation doesn’t mean humans will no longer be needed. As businesses that rely on RPA have already discovered, RPA merely shifts workers to higher-level functions, helping them create a satisfying career.