Updated: Jun 9, 2021
While 65% of the population believes that automation will take over much of work currently done by humans, less than 20% believe that their own job will change as a result. It seems automation is not most people's biggest worry. In fact, only 1 in 10 Americans are worried about losing their job to automation. Twice as many worry about being replaced by cheaper labor, and with good reason - not every technology is here to take your job. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is here to help you work better, become more productive, and automate the routine parts of your job. It does, however have further implications.
But although you've probably heard of some of the more well-known futuristic technologies, RPA has flown relatively under the radar. Whereas a Google search for Machine Learning returns 831 million results, Artificial Intelligence 353 million results, and Blockchain 225 million results, Robotic Process Automation returns only 27 million results.
So what the heck is RPA?
Very simply put, it's the development of a software robot: Software that will perform tasks on your computer via your user interface. Although it overlaps somewhat with Artificial Intelligence, there is one crucial difference: while AI is usually used to replace a human, RPA is usually used to improve a human's productivity at work.
It makes a lot of sense. AI is often glitchy; AI doesn't have human reasoning; AI doesn't work outside the rules it was given. Cutting a person out of a workflow might lower costs, but it can significantly affect the work produced. RPA strikes a balance by keeping humans in the loop but significantly improving their work; letting workers focus on creative work without ignoring necessary repetitive tasks; and leveraging the benefits of technology without making workers redundant. These qualities make it an excellent advancement in human-centered industries.
What are some of the advantages of using RPA? The disadvantages?
There a number of advantages if you want to use RPA, including:
1. Lower rates of error
2. Higher productivity
3. Less time spent on routine tasks
4. More flexibility than outsourcing or having to modify other User Interface recording and automation software
Unfortunately, there are a few disadvantages:
1. RPA is a new technology, which means there aren't that many experienced developers for now.
2. Some of the most prominent leaders are bound by Operating System (such as UiPath, which is only available for Windows)
3. Changes in a website or application UI mean you'll have to re-record the workflow.
How many jobs can benefit from RPA?
While very few jobs can be fully automated, up to 60% can be partially automated. In fact, RPA is expected to affect the jobs of up to 230 million people worldwide. The main way that it does so is not the same as automating a manufacturing line or implementing an AI algorithm. Instead, RPA increases productivity to the point that fewer worker hours are generally needed for the same amount of work. However, you can harness the power of RPA yourself to make yourself a standout worker. RPA itself is also generating new jobs, such as robot development and workflow design.
Given all that, it should come as no surprise that RPA has been named as one of the most important technologies for the future: the RPA industry is expected to reach 3.1 billion USD by 2025. It will undoubtedly impact how many people are employed in routine office work work, affecting the heretofore safe "knowledge industry" the hardest.
What are some resources for learning about RPA?
There are plenty of places where you can get more information on RPA. One of my favorite tools is one of the current leaders in the field, UiPath. While their enterprise solution isn't free, the community edition is very powerful and available for free. In addition, they have a multitude of documentation and tutorials to learn how to do implement it yourself. One of the best options about it is that UiPath has a certification course for you to master the technology yourself, which is available for free until June 30, 2019.
But although you can really get into the details of it, UiPath contains the option to record your workflow yourself. That means that you just need to run through the process you want to automate by hand while UiPath records it, after which the process can be replayed again and again.
If you have any questions about RPA, please feel free to contact us at Mannicode. We will be glad to provide you with advice, consulting, or development if you wish. Otherwise, you are now well prepared to leverage the newest of the world-changing technologies!