RPA: The Gateway to AI

RPA: The Gateway to AI

Artificial Intelligence. Two words that are constantly on the lips of every company CIO/CTO out there. While the idea of computers being able to replicate human intellect can be frightening to some, in general it is accepted that this is a technological advancement which illustrates how far we've come as a species. In fact a lot of companies have already invested vast amounts in the research and development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), with spending forecast to hit $77.6 Billion in 2022 according to IDC (https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS44291818).

However, as exciting as these technological developments are, the fact remains that AI is still very much in its infancy, and thus is not currently ready for mainstream deployment. Despite this, companies require some sort of automation using an already established technology if they are to keep up with, or even give them an advantage over their competitors by improving their efficiency. This is where RPA comes in.

Robotic Process Automation is very much a technology that is ready for worldwide deployment. In fact, most companies are currently exploring the possibility of using RPA within their workforce, in order to give them an edge over their competitors. This is such that according to Gigabit magazine, 9/10 companies will implement RPA by 2020 (https://www.gigabitmagazine.com/ai/nine-10-businesses-implement-rpa-2020).

Before getting into why one should use RPA, it is interesting to explore what RPA is compared to AI. The main difference is that while AI allows for cognitive thinking within its automated processes (i.e. is ideal for processes which require a case-by-case analysis), RPA allows for automation of rule-based processes, i.e. those that follow a strict pattern and rarely, if ever, change. In short, RPA is a simplification of AI.

Nonetheless, RPA is still a considerably valuable tool for companies today. Indeed, the majority of processes within companies don't require cognitive decision making as they are mostly rule-based. As such, using AI on such processes would be somewhat overkill, and not an efficient cost-cutting step for the company.

Furthermore, RPA software very much keeps in line with the advancement of AI technologies. Indeed, UiPath announced that in its updated 2019.4 version, it would release "Computer Vision" as part of its software. This is already on the way of the inclusion of AI and ML within RPA software, and is an improvement on the existing OCR technologies. As such, RPA keeps up with the advancement of AI technologies, and is capable of incorporating these advancements with ease.

As we anticipate the arrival AI within the mainstream, RPA provides a welcome alternative to automating processes which would otherwise have to be done manually, saving time and money and benefitting the company in the long run.