Robotic Process Automation and Automation Are Not the Same

This post is part of our continuing series, Your Guide to a Successful Digital Transformation.

Often used interchangeably, Robotic Process Automation and Automation are different. Here’s are some of the characteristics of each:

Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, is software technology that allows companies to replicate human actions by building, deploying and managing low-code or no-code robots, or bots. RPA applications include, among others, UiPath, BluePrism, PowerAutomate, AutomationAnywhere.

  • Implementation and licensing of RPA tools can be costly and depends on your deployment methodology.
  • RPA can offer a viable alternative when integrations have not been possible historically due to IT resource constraints or technical incompatibilities.
  • Enhanced functionality engages with other services and applications.

Automation uses the full ecosystem of technology applications, technology enablers, scripting, and triggering events to create a technology solution to a business problem.

  • Automation solutions may exist within one system or many.
  • Creative design may extend functionality in non-traditional methods.
  • Functionality leverages the same secondary services (ChatGPT, computer vision or AI services) as RPA.
  • Cost is typically already incurred or low.
  • There is a higher learning curve and greater need for experience.

In general, your transformation champions and business users should be able to develop RPA-based solutions with some initial familiarization courses and without significant support from developers or other IT resources. Automation solutions, on the other hand, require a higher level of support and are likely to impact your organization’s IT resources to a greater degree.

With an RPA solution in place, you start to achieve one of the greatest benefits of RPA with the burden of solution development from IT to the business itself. This can accelerate the deployment from months or years to days or weeks.

These two components can often work hand in hand with many organizations leveraging automation activities to create “enabler modules” that can be used in their RPA solutions. For example, access to generate data from an operations application might be restricted to an enabler module, which activates when the application is not under heavy load. Non-technical users with an RPA solution could “call” the activity instead of having to design their own access method to the application. This has the added benefit of managing the access, data, and capacity of the application interaction occurring via the RPA bots.

For information about how we can assist in your organization’s digital transformation, contact us. We are here to help.



What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is the concept of understanding the interrelation of People, Processes, and Technology and identifying where technology can enhance processes.