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Robotic Process Automation: It’s Not the Future

By Dick Weisinger

RPA, Robotic Process Automation, has been hyped as a way to streamline workflows and make processes more efficient. But RPA is not about the future, it’s all about the past. RPA is computer automation software that sits on top of legacy applications. But, that’s not to say it’s not useful. RPA is intermediary glue that can turbocharge the use of existing software.

Compared to RPA, Business Process Management (BPM) involves deeper transformative change. RPA is better positioned as a short-term fix while BPM targets longer-term infrastructure changes to business workflows.

Siyong Liu, general manager of CFB Bots, said that “BPM and RPA are really two sides of the same coin. Both are valuable tool sets that management can leverage to drive operational excellence within their organizations.”

Miguel Valdes Faura, CEO and co-founder of BPM platform provider Bonitasoft, said that BPM “employs automation in appropriate places, but it also permits integration with other, external technologies and offers a means to optimize and increase the efficiency of humans involved in the process, and in contrast, RPA technology is based on low-level events or interactions such as mouse and keyboard use or web page scraping and it is relatively easy to do everything that an application with a user interface, running on a computer, can do.”

The popularity of and need for RPA is an indicator that underlying applications need a reboot. RPA exposes a longer-term need to build applications around process from the ground up that can have points of both human and automated contact, something that BPM was designed to do.

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