How Does Robotic Process Automation Work?

by Kris Subramanian, Chief Operating Officer | Posted on Thursday February 11, 2021

Robotic process automation is a crucial technology for digital transformation. According to Deloitte, 72% of companies would have already begun their RPA journeys by the end of last year. Within the next three years, RPA will become near-universal due to its beneficial impacts – cost and effort reduction, simplification of processes, scalability, and a better work experience. To understand how you could achieve these benefits, let us explore the concept of robotic process automation in detail.

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotic process automation is a technology that eliminates manual processes by using software robots (i.e., bots) to perform the job, configuring bots in a manner that they can detect, respond to and act on events occurring across the enterprise.

RPA has several component technologies that allow it to emulate human labor:

  • Automation scripts – These scripts define the workflow that the bot will follow.
  • Application programming interfaces (APIs) – RPA uses APIs to connect with various enterprise systems and fetch data. APIs make it possible to detect events in different systems.
  • Sensors and triggers – These are the data sources that inform an RPA bot whenever an action is needed. Typically, sensors reside in enterprise systems like CRM or ERP, and communicate with RPA via APIs.
  • Bots – Software bots are programs that use automation scripts and APIs to detect an event and automatically perform a workflow.
  • Graphical user interface (GUI) – This is an optional component that allows business users to configure the bot without having to write code.
  • Artificial intelligence – Another optional component, AI allows bots to learn from past workflows and process unstructured data.

The last two components are characteristic of the next step in the evolution of RPA, which is intelligent automation.

How Does Robotic Process Automation Work? Key Functionalities Explained

RPA mainly applies to repetitive tasks that are not quite complex in nature. They involve fewer steps, which make them easier to automate. And because of their repetitive nature, you can implement RPA in bulk and automate a high volume of processes for maximum returns. For example, there are myriad use cases for robotic process automation in banking because banks have a large volume of repetitive, low-complexity processes for which accuracy is highly critical. These include application processing, reviewing and confirming know your customer (KYC) documentation, answering customers’ FAQs, data entry, and checking and confirming financial transaction validity.

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how robotic process automation works:

Step 1 – The organization sets up the RPA software system by identifying the task to be automated, configuring the bot accordingly, and integrating with the necessary systems. For example, a financial services organization can set up a bot that monitors a stock price online and updates the stakeholders if it crosses a threshold.

Step 2 – The organization ensures that RPA is properly configured and integrated. In our financial services example, the bot mentioned above must be connected to social media, financial service information feeds, and online publications to fetch stock price data. It must connect to a notification system like a collaboration platform or email to send updates to the appropriate user(s).

Step 3 – Users are trained on RPA, so they can rely on these automated processes to improve productivity and outcomes. In our example, employees of the financial services organization must get trained to know which notifications to watch for and how to act on them for the appropriate stakeholders.

The Benefits of RPA Face the Challenge to Scale

Most early adopters are already vouching for RPA’s ability to boost process efficiency which has helped them save costs and effort. According to Deloitte, RPA has helped to improve compliance (92%), productivity (86%), and quality/accuracy (90%) in organizations.

For example, the HR team of a global professional services firm not only reduced onboarding time from three hours to 17 minutes but also removed manual intervention permanently so that its onboarding processes run automatically 24/7. 

However, organizations that have deployed only RPA for automating their tasks are facing the challenges of scale and technical debt the bots brought in: 

  • RPA may not be integrated with your end-to-end enterprise stack, leading to lost opportunities. 
  • Traditional RPA does not come with cognitive (AI) capabilities, which means it cannot handle process exceptions or unstructured data. 
  • RPA requires complex code-based configuration, and you might need to rope in IT every time your workflow or process changes. 

Such limitations are pushing organizations to look beyond only RPA when embracing end-to-end digital transformation.

An intelligent automation platform, though, powered by natively integrated AI, ML, OCR, intelligent document processing, and a configurable low-code interface multiplies the benefits of robotic process automation and makes it sustainable for the long term.

To learn more about the benefits of enterprise automation and the AUTOMATE intelligent automation platform, contact us at

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