RPA vs Traditional Automation: Key Differences

06 Feb, 2020 | Blogs

For a very long time, process automation has been the answer to the nagging question of “what’s the better way to do it?” The benefits of automation are well known: increased efficiency, reduced errors and risk, improved profits and proper compliance. As innovation and technology reach new heights, Robotic Process Automation has silently replaced traditional automation. Yet many are still unaware of the key differences between RPA and traditional automation. Here are our top four RPA vs traditional automation comparison.

What is RPA?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been in the spotlight for a long time now, with Forrester Research predicting the market to reach $2.9 billion by 2021 from $250 million in 2016. RPA uses computer software or bots to automate high volume, repetitive tasks that require significant human intervention. With RPA, companies can leverage software-enabled bots to instill efficiency and intelligence in processes. Some well-known facts about RPA:

Implementing RPA results in 92% improved compliance, 90% improved accuracy and 86% improved productivity`(Deloitte Global RPA Survey).

RPA is expected to reach “near-universal adoption” in the next five years.

RPA is cheaper than outsourcing since automating tasks using bots is around 1/3rd the cost of an outsourced employee (Capgemini).

RPA vs Traditional Automation: Key Differences

In principle, both RPA and traditional automation use software integration to automate business processes. But four key differences between the two give RPA an edge over traditional automation.

  1. Technology Difference

Traditional automation makes use of APIs and other ways to integrate various systems while RPA uses software bots to understand user actions at the user interface level. To create a traditional automation system, the developer has to know the target system inside out. In the case of RPA, the bot understands user behavior and follows steps, taking away the spotlight from the underlying technology and its associated application. Therefore, in the RPA vs traditional automation fight, RPA certainly is more convenient in terms of technology base and use.

  1. Software Limitations

Traditional automation has various limitations such as restrictions in application customization due to the lack of software source code and limitation of APIs, which makes it challenging to integrate diverse systems. In other words, automation of the legacy system is difficult and requires thorough knowledge of the software. On the other hand, RPA usually works on the UI layer, making the aforementioned restrictions redundant.

  1. Turnaround time

In the RPA vs traditional automation battle, RPA certainly is the frontrunner when it comes to turnaround time since techno-functional developers can instruct bots to perform a specific action within sections. In contrast, traditional automation demands several quality tests and complex programming. Moreover, it also requires constant to-and-fro between various IT teams as well as critical IT support.

  1. Customization

RPA offers a high level of customization when compared to traditional automation. RPA enables subject matter experts to create bespoke bots that can meet the needs of each user. It also has multiple integrations with applications like ERP, calendar, e-mail, and CRM for seamless flow of data and creation of auto-replies and response.

RPA vs Traditional Automation: When to Use What?

As stated before, RPA is quicker as compared to traditional automation. Sometimes, it is also deployed in the short term, until the traditional automation task can be implemented. And there are times when RPA is the ideal solution regardless of the timeframe. RPA is also better suited for tasks based on scenarios.

Final Thoughts

While RPA is the clear winner in the RPA vs traditional automation race, it is not going to completely replace traditional automation, which still has applications in various systems. Here’s a quick summary of the RPA vs traditional automation tussle:

Clearly, RPA is not a matter of if, but when.

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