Fact or Fiction: Debunking the Most Common Robotic Process Automation Misconceptions

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Automation is transforming modern life in various ways. From everyday examples like ATMs, self-checkout kiosks, and smart home systems to subtler bots deployed behind-the-scenes in various sectors, automation simplifies tasks, saves time, and improves efficiency. For businesses big and small, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) presents a huge opportunity to save costs and stay competitive.

Still, that excitement can also come with some trepidation. Concerns about costs and complexity are common, as are questions about maintenance and security. Here, we’ll clarify some of the common misconceptions about RPA.

Most Common RPA Misconceptions

1. RPA is Too Expensive for Small Businesses
The cost of implementing RPA can vary depending on several factors. The scope of automation, licensing, extent of customization, and employee training all play a role in cost. Still, while there may be some upfront costs, RPA almost always pays for itself within the first year. As per Automation Anywhere’s latest Now & Next report, businesses typically gain a return on investment (ROI) of 250% within six to nine months after a bot is deployed. Not only are there cost savings from the automation of non-revenue-generating work, but people become free to work on tasks that drive revenue.

2. Automation Replaces Human Jobs
Automation usually changes the kinds of jobs people do instead of making jobs disappear. RPA is like a helpful assistant that takes care of routine, manual tasks. It is good at mundane tasks, like copying data from one place to another. This frees employees to focus on more creative, strategic, and value-added work.

3. RPA is Only for IT Departments
RPA is versatile and can enhance efficiency in various parts of a business. For example, banks often use RPA to automate loan data processing, customer onboarding processes, credit card application processing, and so on. Insurance agencies leverage RPA to handle carrier documents retrieval, direct bill, policy renewals, non-pay cancellations, and more. In customer service, RPA can automate responses to common customer inquiries, update customer records, and even assist in resolving issues. It improves operations in multiple business functions, not just IT.

4. RPA Replaces Existing Systems
RPA implementation doesn’t require a complete overhaul of IT systems. It works even with legacy software applications; you wouldn’t need to replace your core software or hardware. It acts as an additional layer that improves processes without causing disruptions. As RPA can be implemented relatively quickly compared to the time and effort required for system replacements or upgrades, you benefit from automation sooner.

5. RPA Can’t Handle Unstructured Data
Structured data is organized and follows a clear format, like the data in a spreadsheet or database. It’s easy for machines to understand because the information is neatly labeled and structured. On the other hand, unstructured data includes text documents, PDFs, emails, images, or even social media posts. This data doesn’t have a clear format and can be challenging for machines to understand. RPA is excellent at handling structured data. But RPA, when implemented along with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Optical Character Recognition (OCR), can help recognize patterns in unstructured data, extract meaningful information, and even generate responses.

6. RPA Needs Lots of Human Oversight
While some basic oversight is necessary, RPA generally operates smoothly without too much tinkering.  When RPA encounters unexpected situations, such as missing or invalid data, human intervention is required to resolve these exceptions. Humans are also needed to ensure that the automated processes comply with legal and regulatory requirements.

7. RPA is the Same as AI
Both RPA and AI involve automation, but they serve different purposes. RPA is a technology that can automate repetitive tasks. RPA mimics human actions, such as clicking buttons and entering data to perform tasks such as data entry, form filling, and invoice processing. AI, on the other hand, is a technology that can reason and adapt, much like a human. AI can use data to make predictions and decisions, improving over time without being explicitly programmed. AI is often used for complex tasks that require reasoning and decision-making, such as fraud detection and medical diagnosis.

Final Notes

RPA bots have the potential to save you both time and money in the long run. The key to harnessing these benefits lies in identifying and prioritizing automation opportunities within your organization. At Eleviant, we specialize in this process, helping you pinpoint the most suitable automation opportunities to boost your business’s performance and productivity. Talk to our experts to explore how automation can drive success in your unique business context.

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