What Is RPA? Your Guide To Robotic Process Automation

What Is RPA? Your Guide To Robotic Process Automation


What is RPA?

If you’re already having a hard time getting your head around the litany of three-letter acronyms that have arisen from digital transformation in the past few years, RPA might seem like just another one for the heap.

Don’t be fooled, however—this really is one worth remembering for the future.

Robotic Process Automation—RPA for short—is emerging as one of the most important forms of business process automation.

Put simply, it allows bots to take over several complex processes, such as data handling and customer service, while applying machine learning to give a distinctly human touch to automated processes.

Your ‘bots’ are software programs specifically designed to take on specific and varied tasks such as data entry, data extraction, candidate sourcing, and payroll automation.

You can assign and control bots to tackle processes—often time-consuming and monotonous—and free up time for staff to handle other projects.

While traditional automation has existed for a while now, RPA has grown significantly in the space of a few short years and is predicted to become a nearly $4 billion market by 2025 at a compound annual growth rate of 31%.

As automation becomes more sophisticated and RPA is incorporated more into businesses’ digital transformation plans, understanding what RPA is and its future will be of great significance.

The strategic priorities of RPA use

Applications of RPA

The Tasks and Uses of RPA Bots

  • Data extraction – large amounts of data can be trawled
  • Data management – data aggregation and curation
  • Operational activities – logistics and operational support
  • Procure-to-pay – invoice processing and reporting
  • Inventory and supply chain – categorization and management

The Different Types of RPA Technology

Which RPA Tools Are Options for Your Business?

With an estimated 80 million jobs in the US deemed suitable candidates for automation, it should come as no surprise that there is a real and urgent need to adopt solutions that can address these needs.

RPA comes in different forms, typically revolving around three forms of bots:

Attended RPA

Typically frontend bots that work with humans, attended RPA assists in repetitive tasks when triggered by the user.

It is often in a passive state until called upon, wherein it can quickly achieve menial tasks while workers can focus on other important processes that necessitate a human touch.

Which industries are investing the most in RPA?

The key aspect of attended RPA is that it only works on a ‘trigger’, that is to say, on the command of a human.

Whether that is immediate, a scheduled use at specific time, or on the completion of a certain condition, humans are the ones who exclusively dictate the use of attended bots on their command.

Common examples of attended automation would be data gathering from several databases and departments while dealing with a customer inquiry; or assisting in manual data entry by retrieving and copying and pasting information, for example.

Unattended RPA

These bots work in a similar method of acting on triggers, but do not have to be manually triggered by humans when performing a task.

Unattended bots are typically in a constant state of readiness until they are compelled to operate.

Unattended bots work in the background and will continuously and automatically perform their assigned task without the intervention of a worker.

Because they require no aid by employees, these bots are extremely useful for automating back-end office tasks and streamlining workflows within a company.

Expect to find these RPA solutions auto-sending emails after customer purchases; automatically processing online applications; and receiving and entering organization-wide data, improving efficiency, accuracy, and speed for many clerical functions

Hybrid RPA

This form of RPA is a combination of both attended and unattended RPA bots, working in tandem together.

Attended and unattended bots are not either/or solutions, despite the fact that many in the automation market see it that way.

Common uses and applications of RPA

Using them together in a hybrid system is often a great way to optimize workflows.

For example, a worker can begin a task with attended automation, which will in turn operate unattended bots to perform any tasks it needs to complete.

Potential for Digital Transformation for SMBs

How RPA is Influencing Digital Transformation in Business

As RPA becomes an ever-increasing fixture for the future of business, digital transformation strategies are consistently looking towards incorporating bots into their solutions to prepare for DX.

Decision makers are increasingly keen to implement RPA in their organizations, with up to 40% of larger enterprises adopting some kind of RPA software by next year, up from 10% in 2018

In a study, it was noted that companies got a return of between 30% to 200% on RPA investments.

Granted, that’s a large disparity, but what isn’t for debate is that investments so far seem to prove successful.

That’s a significant leap for an emerging technology, though with SMBs adoption is somewhat slower.

An automation strategy requires a significant investment over a long period of time.

With RPA now readily available to businesses of all sizes, having a plan for future automation in your business is an important consideration to make for your digital transformation strategy.


  • The market for automation is rapidly expanding
  • Formerly pushed primarily by big corporations, it is now readily available to SMBs
  • Can act and be incorporated as part of a wider DX strategy

Learn More About What RPA Means for the Future

Robotic process automation helps companies achieve and maintain a competitive advantage in their industry. Through leveraging the tools available, which increase staff productivity and decrease costs—companies can enjoy higher operating capacity while delivering superior customer experience.

RPA is just one aspect of digital transformation which is changing the way small businesses operate in today’s constantly evolving landscape. To learn more about how you can modernize your organization, reach out to our Managed IT team and speak to one of our experts today!