What Is Robotic Process Automation?

Editor's note: this post was published in 2014. For up-to-date information explaining robotic process automation, visit our What is RPA? page.

For years, robots have played an important role in manufacture and production. Now, software robots have come to the back office, but you'll never see them! Robotic process automation (RPA) is the application of technology to manipulate and interpret existing applications. Unlike traditional software, RPA can operate multiple software applications though a separate user interface. 

Benefits of RPA

Thanks to RPA, it's possible to think about business processes in a whole new way. From back-office functions to remote IT infrastructure, myriad enterprise functions can be streamlined. The benefits add up quickly:

  • Employees can focus on higher-level work, rather than repetitive tasks. Employees who spend less time on repetitive tasks often report greater engagement with their work, which has been demonstrated to improve morale and productivity. 

  • The potential for human error is completely eliminated. It's easy to make errors with data entry such as transposition, omission, or addition of letters and numbers. But a robot simply cannot make errors! 

  • Productivity increases as cycle and transaction times fall. RPA dramatically reduces the time necessary to complete a wide variety of business processes, including purchase processing, customer service, and any other process that requires access to multiple existing systems. 

  • Business analytics are more robust and easily accessible. Every transaction completed through RPA gets recorded in a detailed log. That data may be manipulated to yield comprehensive analysis of virtually any completed process. If your industry is subject to government regulations, this data can also be used to ensure compliance. 

Related read: Analytics for Your RPA Deployment: A KPI Playbook

Applications of RPA

Because RPA confers benefits like cost reduction, improved efficiency, and greater accuracy, it's an attractive option. A versatile solution, RPA can be used to operate and orchestrate other application software, regardless of industry:

  • IT professionals rely on RPA to deploy applications and monitor network devices. RPA is also the ideal solution for remote management of IT infrastructure because it can investigate and solve problems more quickly than a human could--and it's available 24/7. 

  • Finance and acounting departments use RPA to eliminate human error and streamline data entry time. Automation can easily be scaled up or down based on demand. 

  • In call centers and other customer service environments, robots can assist agents making them more productive. This way, human resources can be reserved for more complex interactions. 

  • RPA enables the integration of enterprise applications, simplifying the workflow for sales teams. With improved pipeline management, most sales teams enjoy shorter sales cycles and higher conversion rates. 

  • Business process outsourcers (BPOs) can easily use RPA to leverage information across shared services teams and to streamline the management of multiple client operations. 

UiPath offers user-friendly software for process automation, web scraping, GUI testing, content migration, and much more. Our world-class team of developers can help you implement these technologies to improve your company's profitability and productivity.  

Read next: Overview of RPA for the C-Suite: The Quick Guide to Getting Started

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.uipath.com/blog/rpa/what-is-robotic-process-automation