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In this month’s column, we discuss the topic of robotic process automation.


Hcustom macros. Well, the difference comes from the fact that such simple automation scripts fail when there is a decision to be made and when there are a set of complicate­d steps to follow in order to achieve a task. Typically, desktop automation is limited to defining functions or macros that operate within an applicatio­n. Let us consider an example from the financial services, namely, the accounts payable process. This is a critical function in all organisati­ons. It includes reconcilin­g the statements submitted by the vendors against the statements of Robotic process automation (RPA) is defined by the the internal buying department­s of an organisati­on. Institute for Robotic Process Automation (IRPA) as An organisati­on can buy goods and services from ‘the applicatio­n of technology allowing employees outside vendors. The purchase process is typically in a company to configure computer software or a carried out by means of purchase orders. When ‘robot’ to capture and interpret existing applicatio­ns the goods and services are received, the buying for processing a transactio­n, manipulati­ng data, department­s create the ‘received’ reports. The triggering responses and communicat­ing with vendors or sellers of these goods and services then other digital systems.’ In other words, it involves submit invoices for payment by the organisati­on. The automating certain tasks or processes that manipulate reconcilia­tion is carried out by a three-way process data. While the definition of RPA as defined by between the vendor invoices, received reports and IRPA is very broad and uses the word ‘robot’, real the purchase orders. life RPA has nothing to do with robots. Though While this appears to be a routine task, the term ‘robotic process automation’ conjures up mismatches between these three data sources can visions of an army of robots doing some human require human interventi­on and decision making. tasks, such as moving things or carrying out some A typical mismatch could be where the vendor other such physical labour, RPA does not have shows the invoice as unpaid whereas the internal anything to do with robots themselves. It is a form of department system shows the invoice as paid. The automation where intelligen­t software processes take accounts payable process then needs to identify over certain tasks that have typically been performed the root cause of the mismatch, and so carries by human beings. out one of the following three actions. If it finds

The readers may now be wondering how this is that the invoice has already been paid, it needs to different from normal software processes involved send the payment details to the vendor. If it has in desktop automation, which typically do many been processed and marked as not paid, it needs to tasks such as generating bar charts from data, provide the reasons for non-payment to the vendor. or performing accounting calculatio­ns in Excel Or if the invoice has not been received, it should spreadshee­ts, typically performed by defining send a notificati­on to the vendor to send a duplicate appy New Year to all our readers! As we start a new year, this month’s column also is about a new topic. One of our readers had requested me to cover robotic process automation (RPA). Hence, this month’s column provides a brief overview of this interestin­g and important trend in informatio­n technology. We will also examine how natural language processing and machine learning play a role in RPA.

What is robotic process automation?

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