RPA Tools: RPA vs IA vs BPA

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RPA Tools Robotic process-automation explaining the ebook

What to expect in this RPA Tools Post

Ready to learn more about Robotic Process Automation (RPA)? Perhaps you’ve been wondering how RPA is similar to Business Process Automation (BPA) or even Intelligent Automation (IA). We’ve compiled some of the best information available today from leading industry experts and analysts into this simple ebook. In this quick read, you’ll find information on each of the following RPA 101 topics:

1) What is RPA?
2) Should you be using RPA? 
3) Will RPA eliminate jobs?
4) Who is using RPA and what problems can RPA solve?
5) And more!


Let’s get started!



What to expect from rpa tools

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What is RPA?

To understand Robotic Process Automation or RPA, we need to step back to a larger category of business technologies called Business Process Automation (BPA). For almost thirty years, BPA companies have offered technologies such as imaging (scanning applications that help convert paper documents into digital files) and workflow (to automatically route documents from step to step in a business process).

About five years ago, RPA entered the market as technology companies began using “bots” to log into applications and perform routine tasks, replacing the human effort previously required. As we look ahead to the next decade, Intelligent Automation (IA) appears to be the next breakthrough BPA trend as companies begin to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to further automate nonroutine processes and more complex information.

“The global market for RPA technoloiges will reach $8.75 billion by 2024

–Grand View Research, 2018

What is rpa and what are rpa tools robotic process automation

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Why you should pay attention to RPA tools and IA

Analysts with AIIM explain that 96% of companies believe process automation is critical to business success. (AIIM, 2017). And, McKinsey and Company explains that companies who automate 50-70% of a task using IA, see average results such as:

  • 20-35% annual cost reduction
  • 50-60% process time reduction
  • ROI is “most often” in the triple digit percentages

“We believe [intelligent automation] will be a core part of companies’ next-generation operating models.”

— (McKinsey, 2017)

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RPA Tools Quick Definitions

Knowing the difference between RPA (robotic process automation), BPA (business process automation) and IA (Intelligent Automation) can be confusing – especially since so many companies have their own definitions. We wanted to explain what we believe is the true definition and also take in multiple viewpoints:


Business Process Automation (BPA)

The use of technology (such as workflow, RPA, and IA) to automate business processes. Includes the routing of information from step-to-step and automatic processing of tasks.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

The automation of rules-based processes with structured data to facilitate sharing of information between applications. The systems are accessed by a user account controlled by a “bot.”

Intelligent Automation (IA)

The automation of variable business processes with structured, semi-structured or unstructured data to facilitate sharing of information between applications, and to process information. Encompasses RPA and workflow and adds the use of AI technologies such as natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to automate complex business processes.

96% of companies believe process automation is critical to business sucess.

–AIIM, 2017

definition of rpa tools rpa robotic process automation bpa business process automation and ia intelligent automation

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Why you should pay attention to RPA tools and IA

Ok. So you’re sold on the value of automation, but you may not be sure if you need RPA or IA to get your job done. Let’s check out the scenarios that work best for each type of technology.

Good Candidates for RPA

As a more mature technology, RPA has a track record of helping companies automate specific, routine tasks such as accounts payable and human resources onboarding that rely on structured documents. (see Case Studies 1 & 2) Two key factors: 1. The process is rules-based, meaning the same basic steps are followed for every instance. 2. The data is found in documents that are similar in structure time after time (i.e., invoices)

70% of businesses expect to invest in RPA in the next 12 months

— Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligencce Survey, 2017

Should you invest in automaiton with RPA Tools

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Should you invest in RPA Tools and Automation?

More complex processes that make use of less structured information require AI to automate. AI can deal with probabilities rather than rules, which allows greater flexibility in how the application responds to information. In particular, Natural Language Processing (the interfaces that allow users to speak with the application as if it were human) and Machine Learning (algorithms that identify categories and patterns in very large data sets) are useful tools that aid automation efforts. Two factors that indicate your process needs IA:

  1. The process varies depending on a variety of factors, so some sorting and categorizing may be necessary along the way to route information through the right steps.
  2. The data is found in structured documents (similar layouts), semi-structured documents (location of key information varies), and unstructured information (such as data streams, email, and text messages).

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“Did you know that automation could free up to 65% of your employees time for more valuable tasks?”

–Grand View Research, 2016

should you invest in rpa tools and automation robotic process automation

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Will RPA Eliminate Jobs?

“It’s unlikely,” say most experts, though your job responsibilities will likely change. As routine tasks are increasingly performed by bots, your efforts should turn to higher level skills. Chances are, your job will get more interesting and rewarding.

“In the longer term, RPA means people will have more intersting work. For 130 years we’ve been making jobs uninteresting and deskilled. The evidence is that it’s not whole jobs that will be lost but parts of jobs, and you can reassumble work into different types of jobs.” – McKinsey & Company, 2017



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De-Risk your AP Automation Transformation.

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A recent survey of business leaders found that the overwhelming majority believe artificial intelligence will create jobs, rather than eliminate them:

“Increased automation of tasks does not necessarily lead to loss of jobs—workforce augmentation, rather than replacement, may be a more likely outcome. By freeing up a person’s time, employees can now focus on more advanced and engaging tasks, and over time organizations could see lower turnover, higher morale, and increased internal innovation.” — Deloitte, 2017


rpa tools will not eliminate jobs but enhance productivity

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80% of companies believe AI improves worker performance and creates jobs.”

–Deloitte, 2017

Will RPA Eliminate Jobs?

Many different types of companies are using automation to streamline processes and improve information accuracy. Why? Automation can help you:

  1. Improve process efficiency
  2. Control accuracy of information
  3. Save money on many business tasks
  4. Enjoy happier employees

The following processes are the ones most often targeted for automation. How might faster, smarter processes in any of these areas benefit your company?

  • Financial operations such as accounts payable and accounts receivable
  • Human resources such as onboarding new employees and tracking benefits
  • Information technology such as diagnosing and fixing many common technical problems
  • Procurement such as requisitions, MRO re-orders, and invoice processing
  • Data and analytics such as monitoring and analyzing information about efficiency, issues, and costs

Who is using RPA tools for business process automation

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