The Origins, Growth and Challenges of Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
By Scott Clark – With all the recent discussion about the AI-driven ChatGPT, Google Bard and Microsoft’s new AI-enhanced Bing, the concept of robotic process automation (RPA) brings to mind humanoid robots replacing human employees, but it’s actually much more benign (and beneficial) than that. RPA actually refers to software “bots” that are able to automate routine business tasks. Let’s delve into what RPA does, how brands are using it and the challenges it poses.
Gartner defines RPA as “a productivity tool that allows a user to configure one or more scripts (which some vendors refer to as ‘bots’) to activate specific keystrokes in an automated fashion.” RPA first began to be used in early 2000 and was comprised of a combination of artificial intelligence, screen scraping and workflow automation.
Screen scraping, which was initially used in the 1990s, refers to the action of using a computer program to copy data (i.e. scrape) from a website or application so that it can be used by other applications or websites. Typically, it was used to capture data from a legacy application so that it could be used in a newer application, such as transitioning from Lotus 123 to Microsoft Excel. A more recent example of scraping is Common Crawl, which is an open-source dataset that has been generated from a multitude of websites that have been scraped. Common Crawl regularly crawls the web to create free datasets that can be used for training AI applications. Because screen scraping is limited by its compatibility with existing systems, businesses turned to more adaptable and extensible technologies. Read On:
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