What is Robotic Process Automation?

What is Robotic Process Automation?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an approach to business processes automation when software program imitates user actions to achieve a result: login/logout, perform data entry, click buttons, copy into the clipboard and perform other actions in a similar to human manner.

Please don't be afraid of word robot in the name of technology. We are talking about software program or set of programs which imitate human actions. No physical human-like devices will replace your employees (at least for now).

What is the difference between RPA and traditional automation?

Traditionally, automation of business processes is performed through API - interface for software programs to communicate with each other, or similar technologies. Basically, we can call it regular programming. This method is pretty good fit for a big number of tasks, however, it has certain limitations including:

1. You need to heavily involve IT department (know programming languages)

2. Some applications, especially legacy, do not have API

3. Once you switched to automation, it's not easy to return back to manual mode, even in case of failure

What is Intelligent Process Automation?

Considering a big worldwide interest in RPA technology and concept of Digital Employee, many analysts try to classify RPA solutions. For example, IBM defines three stages of this technology development: Robotic Process Automation - simple GUI automation, Complex Process Automation - usage of artificial intelligence to monitor and improve processes, constantly enlarging knowledge base, and finally Intelligent Process Automation - fully autonomous software robots which are on the similar level of understanding business with human.

Intelligent Process Automation

We prefer not to make serious distinctions between Robotic/Complex/Intelligent or Cognitive Process Automation because so far there are no industry standards in this area. Maybe in couple years we will laugh recalling which capabilities we considered intelligent :-)

Which RPA tool to select?

There are a lot of software solutions which provide Robotic Process Automation capabilities from freeware like WorkFusion RPA Express to enterprise-level products like Blue Prism. Some of them have out-of-the-box OCR capabilities, like UiPath, others require a purchase of external services like Abbyy OCR. Some RPA tools allow simply to record every step of a human user, others require a thoughtful step-by-step description of every action.

Often, it is also required to use additional external services like, for example, to empower solution with necessary machine learning capabilities. In this case, you will need to leverage IBM Watson, Google, AWS, Microsoft and other API providers.


Emplotics is a digital employees factory. By combining GUI automation with artificial intelligence and chatbots, we help to automate routine tasks for enterprise in any industry. Our team of experts will help you to choose the best fit from RPA tools portfolio, provide end-to-end implementation and transfer knowledge to your team.