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RPA: Misconceptions & Realities From an Insider’s View

Learn about RPA, key benefits, trends, and more in a Q&A with Ryan Kauzlick, director at FORVIS.
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Robotic process automation (RPA) continues to gain traction as companies look for ways to streamline workflows and boost efficiency. To learn more about RPA and how businesses are leveraging this technology, we spoke with Ryan Kauzlick, director and Insights & Automation practice lead at FORVIS. In this Q&A, Ryan provides an overview of RPA and shares key insights on the benefits of automation, how RPA differs from other artificial intelligence (AI), and trends to watch. Read on as Ryan offers his unique perspective on RPA based on his broad experience.

What Is RPA?

Ryan: The most simplistic definition I could come up with is, “The automating of what a human does via a computer.”

RPA is a technology that uses software applications and programming language to automate repetitive tasks traditionally performed by people. These tasks can include data entry, data extraction, form filling, etc. RPA aims to streamline business processes and can lead to increased efficiency and cost savings.

Years ago, I was talking to someone who was interested in RPA. When the individual was explaining the concept to me, I thought to myself, why would they use RPA and not just use application programming interfaces (APIs) to exchange data between systems? Now, years later, I realize why RPA continues to have a significant role in business process automation.

What Are the Benefits of RPA?

Ryan: RPA offers several benefits. First, it can significantly improve operational efficiency by automating repetitive and rule-based tasks, helping team members focus on higher-value work. RPA also can reduce the potential for human error, leading to improved accuracy and compliance. In addition, it can scale business processes so that when volume increases, RPA can handle the workload without being under resource constraints.

Another important benefit of using RPA is that it can help organizations automate processes that may be known to only certain individuals in an organization. This helps protect your organization from losing valuable information (and the time needed to restore the process) if that employee were to leave.

How Does RPA Differ From AI & Machine Learning?

Ryan: RPA uses software applications and programming language to automate repetitive tasks, reduce manual effort, and streamline workflows.

AI is a broader computer science term. It includes a range of technologies that can perform intellectual tasks like humans can, such as learning, reasoning, and natural language processing.

Machine learning is a subset of AI that involves training algorithms to recognize patterns in data. Machine learning algorithms can learn from data and improve their performance over time without explicit programming.

In summary, RPA focuses on automating tasks, while AI and machine learning focus on enabling machines to perform tasks requiring human intelligence. RPA and AI both automate business processes but differ in scope.

How Does RPA Differ From APIs?

Ryan: Sometimes, RPA can be a better fit for an organization. RPA works at the user interface (UI) level by automating interactions with software applications. APIs work at the code level to allow systems to exchange data. RPA generally can adapt to UI changes more easily, while APIs may require code changes when applications are updated. Also, RPA provides broad automation across applications and tasks. APIs have specific functionalities based on what they are programmed to do. Lastly, RPA operates on top of existing systems. APIs are integrated into the systems. The two approaches can complement each other in automation strategies.

How Can Companies Use RPA?

Ryan: Using RPA helps capture knowledge so it becomes repeatable regardless if an employee leaves. There are costs associated with hiring and training new employees to perform repetitive tasks, so it’s important for an organization to find innovative ways to keep up operations while positioning for growth.

RPA will likely continue to reshape the workforce by automating repetitive tasks, leading to a shift in job responsibilities. While some routine tasks may be automated, employees will have the opportunity to focus on more strategic and complex initiatives. Overall, RPA is expected to create new opportunities for innovation and collaboration in the workplace. Leaders stand to realize considerable gains in individual and organizational performance by prioritizing automation.

RPA Trends to Watch

  1. More companies developing an automation governance framework: With suitable processes for RPA in different business functions, including HR, IT, and customer service, organizations can move toward standardizing and scaling their RPA functions under a single framework.
  2. Increased adoption across industries: RPA is gaining traction across healthcare, finance, insurance, telecom, and other sectors as companies aim to improve efficiency. Further, industry-specific RPA solutions for common processes are arising within specific verticals like finance, healthcare, retail, and more.
  3. Integrating RPA with different technologies: RPA often is used for automating repetitive back-office tasks like data entry or reporting. However, customer-facing technologies can enable RPA to lead end-to-end automation tasks. For example, RPA in customer service can connect to a chatbot to extract data from conversational text and automate requests or aid reporting in the customer service system. This can help customer support agents provide higher-level assistance.
  4. More citizen developers of RPA: Low- and no-code RPA tools are emerging to help non-technical users automate workflows with minimal IT support. RPA also is gaining popularity for its scalability and lower upfront costs.
  5. Hybrid workforces: RPA will collaborate with human workers in new hybrid models, taking over repetitive tasks while employees can handle exceptions and more complex work.

Final Thoughts

FORVIS has a dedicated practice that focuses on the Microsoft Power Platform to help deliver innovative solutions to customers. Our dedicated focus on the Power Platform provides a unique perspective that can help drive value.

Our creativity often is viewed in two perspectives: 1) Our creativity is our only limitation, and 2) Our creativity is our greatest asset. Our creativity combined with Microsoft’s Power Platform and Copilot solutions bring many possibilities to clients. To learn more about how the Insights & Automation team at FORVIS can help you transform workflows and create opportunities for growth, connect with us today.

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