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RPA vs. AI (Or are They Better Together?)

Prem KhatriBy: Prem Khatri


Is RPA part of AI?

Artificial Intelligence is an umbrella term for technologies like RPA and it also describes a computer’s ability to mimic human thinking. RPA is a rule-based software that has no intelligence and automates repetitive tasks.

Here’s where we’re going if you want to jump ahead:

Artificial Intelligence, the buzzword that’s been circulating the tech world has ushered in dozens of conversations about the technologies surrounding it and how it is making its way into the industries. All the excitement surrounding AI and the technologies it supports –Robotic Process Automation, Machine Learning (ML), and Natural Learning Process (NLP)—has created a great deal of confusion about what these terms really mean and how we differentiate them from one another.

One of the many misconceptions is that Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are interchangeable. Though both technologies are stirring major enthusiasm around business process automation, they each accomplish this task in different ways.

We decided to dismantle the confusion around Artificial Intelligence and RPA technology once and for all. First, begin thinking of RPA as the do-er and AI the thinker.

Machine Power

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a software intended to automate repetitive production tasks to streamline business processes. The rule-based software evolved from screen scraping, workflow automation, and artificial intelligence allowing the software to aggregate data, trigger responses, and initiate new actions.

Dubbed the digital worker RPA mimics human behavior to automate consistent routinized workflows in an effort to boost productivity. The rules are programmed and the bots can extract structured inputs from applications like Excel and enter them into SAP. The software works on the user interface just as a human would, seamlessly integrating with ERP and CRM systems.

The agile RPA software has gained tremendous popularity and success due to its ability to continually complete repetitive processes that would otherwise be completed manually. Thus, freeing employees of repetitive tasks and eliminating human error.

RPA vs. AI

The benefits of RPA prove it to be a solid tool that is achieving higher quality yield at a lower cost and in less the time than traditional methods. RPA tackles IT support process, workflow process, and back-office work all while boosting productivity at a lower cost than hiring a full-time employee.

RPA is great for industries like insurance and banking that have a high-transaction rate of repetitive tasks, but that’s all it can do. Without any real intelligence but the instructed rules, it performs the tasks its intended to do efficiently and effectively and nothing more.

Here is where Artificial Intelligence comes into play.

stick figure drawing business concept

The Brains

If you were to look up Artificial Intelligence you would find an endless amount of information (and fallacies) that try to explain its true meaning. The best way to define AI would be to say it is an umbrella term that describes a number of technologies like RPA and a computer’s ability to learn and mimic human thinking like judgment based decisions, reasoning, and cognition.

So, let’s break down that definition in two parts, AI technologies and a computer’s ability to mimic human mental capabilities.

AI opens a subset of technology like ML and NLP that we can leverage to our advantage to do more than create rule-based engines to automate repetitive tasks. AI is now opening doors for things like voice and facial recognition, voice assistants, and data analysis. All of which provide excellent data capturing that can be used to trigger a judgment-based response.

Cognitive reasoning engines apply the captured data extracted from learned patterns to make business and operational suggestions. AI’s ability to aggregate, manage, and understand unstructured data is what sets it apart from RPA.

robot arm drawing a brain

A Movement Alone, A Force Together

RPA and AI technology are both great tools to streamline Business Process Automation, but together they are a force to reckon with. When AI is integrated with RPA, it allows the automation process to begin much faster, creating an automation continuum.

A completely autonomous process would elicit a more cognitive response, transmitting it directly to the RPA system that would then complete the task. This automation continuum would result in even faster production. In terms of use-cases, this could be as simple as reducing the wait-time on a customer inquiry issued during non-business hours.

The global Robotic Process Automation (RPA) market size was valued at USD 357.5 Million in 2017 and is expected to register at a CAGR of 31.1% over the forecast period. Increasing demand for Business Process Automation (BPA) through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and software robots is anticipated to be the key growth-driving factor for the market. -Grand View Research

The future of RPA and AI is glowing increasingly brighter, as more businesses continue to demand solutions that boost productivity and reduce cost. The technologies that continue to emerge from AI will soon bring on the complete automation continuum that businesses are desperately searching for on a mission to exist as a front-runner in today’s fast-paced climate.

Chetu offers scalable Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions to transact tedious, manual processes with intuitive rule-based engines. These engines are designed to execute a high volume and wide array of repetitive tasks with accuracy using custom Blue Prism, UiPath, and Automation Anywhere integrations.


Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.

Chetu was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Florida. We deliver World-Class Software Development Solutions serving entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 clients. Our services include process and systems design, package implementation, custom development, business intelligence and reporting, systems integration, as well as testing, maintenance and support. Chetu's expertise spans across the entire IT spectrum.

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