What is the next evolution of Process Robotics?


By Simon Shah, Chief Marketing Officer, Redwood Software

The use of software-based robotics and automation to carry out common tasks that make up the plethora of business processes is what we’ve been doing in one form or another at Redwood for 25 years. But the nature of RPA is not one that is static, it’s one of continual evolution.

For RPA users, it means the way they assess the potential costs and benefits of deploying RPA has changed – it’s no longer good enough to simply be able to remove the human effort from a single process, or set of processes.

Newer RPA alternatives, however, has ushered in new capabilities that allow businesses to robotize as many or few back- and middle-office tasks as are required – whether that’s a focused function, or end-to-end automation. The key point is to provide that flexibility and to do so more easily than ever before. And without the need for unnecessary human input or significant resources.

To achieve this, robotics solutions need to encompass some core capabilities and characteristics:

  • They must be easily scalable in a linear way. Getting locked into a cycle of hardware upgrades and software licensing requirements isn’t going to help you bring down TCO or deliver against your automation targets.
  • They must use a transparent, predictable pricing model – not being able to accurately predict robotics and automation costs is bad for the industry’s reputation and bad for customers.
  • They must incorporate ready-to-use process components to allow the business to create automated processes while eliminate significant development and maintenance costs.

Crucially though, what sets RPA apart is the ability to truly augment – rather than simply replicate – the work of humans. The notion of a cobot – a collaborative robot – is technology that’s designed to enhance human capabilities, to enable us to do more, not to replace people entirely.

The definition of RPA 2.0 is likely to vary a little in the technical specifics. For example, does it need to involve artificial intelligence or machine learning? That depends who you ask. But what it should mean to businesses is scalable, predictable process automation without the need for third-party add-ons, sprawling technical development teams or the doubt caused by opaque pricing practices.

Where each nascent piece of technology fits into that picture – and how they can best be combined – is still being worked out. But with a focus on measurable outcomes, businesses can ensure they’re always getting the best out of their robotics solutions.

If RPA was replicating human effort, robotics is all about augmenting it.

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