Automation is the way of the future with 68 percent of global employees believing that automation will help them be more productive at work. But figuring out how to add automation to workflows can be a challenge for many organizations. Robotic process automation (RPA) software uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to learn and improve manual processes to reduce the workloads of human employees.
Choosing RPA software for your business
- What Is RPA software?
- What Are the Benefits of RPA?
- Best RPA Tools
- Blue Prism
- Automation Anywhere
- Other RPA tools to Consider
- RPA Product Comparison
- RPA Buying Considerations
What is RPA Software?
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a type of software that allows companies to automate business processes and allow employees to focus on higher value tasks. Using the software, organizations can build and implement software “robots” that mimic human actions. These robots can identify and process information on a screen, extract data, and perform the right actions to navigate through systems.
RPA software has many applications and can automate tasks as simple as processing online transactions and as complicated as performing routine security audits. By automating repetitive processes, organizations can lower their operating costs and turn their attention to improving business operations.
What are the Benefits of RPA?
RPA software offers companies a variety of benefits, including better productivity, faster digital transformation, higher employee engagement, and more accuracy.
With RPA, employees don’t have to perform the repetitive tasks that can monopolize their day. This leaves them with more time to focus on high-value work, and it offers them the opportunity to innovate their processes. This not only leads to higher productivity in their day-to-day work, but it can also allow them to improve productivity for the company as a whole. And that productivity isn’t just limited to individual contributors. Even 20 percent of a CEO’s workload could be automated with RPA. Focusing employees on higher-value tasks results in much greater value per employee for the organization too.
Faster digital transformations
RPA software also enables businesses to speed up their digital transformations. The software robots can perform automated tasks faster and more accurately than humans, and they don’t need breaks. This means that automation can run in the background or overnight while employees spend their in-office time performing more complicated activities. According to a survey by McKinsey, 83 percent of decision-makers in IT say that automation is a critical part of digital transformation.
Higher employee engagement
When employees don’t have to spend their days performing repetitive tasks, they’re more likely to be engaged with their work. Automating the duller work gives employees the ability to focus on more interesting and rewarding work, leaving them with a larger sense of accomplishment. A recent Forrester study found that 57% of companies saw higher employee engagement with RPA software. Improving employee engagement reduces turnover and keeps businesses running smoothly.
Machines tend to produce fewer errors than human employees, even while working faster. By giving repetitive work to RPA software, organizations don’t have to worry about their employees “zoning out” during boring but important work and accidentally inputting the wrong information. Instead, RPA handles these mundane processes and ensures the necessary accuracy. In fact, the same study by Forrester also found that 57 percent of organizations say that RPA solutions reduce manual errors in their work.
Also read: Finding Value in Robotic Data Automation
Best RPA Tools
The following vendors provide some of the best RPA solutions on the market, based on the features they offer and their user reviews.
UiPath is an impressive and user-friendly RPA tool that efficiently and quickly allows users to automate their manual processes, created with the purpose to simplify, speed up, and optimize digital transformation for enterprises.
UiPath uses AI to automatically scan a business’s processes and determine the best ones to automate. It not only automates monotonous activities like data entry, email marketing, and web scraping but also routine duties like notifications, documentation, and scheduled follow-ups. In addition to automation that’s easy to set up, UiPath has capabilities such as encryption and role-based access control as well as the ability to handle processes regardless of their count or complexity.
The solution also includes a submission hub where employees can submit requests for processes they’d like to have automated. It includes options for no-code, low-code, and full-code, enabling users of any expertise to apply automation to their department. UiPath also offers a Task Capture feature, so businesses can automatically document their processes and ensure every employee is performing them the same way. It also includes both attended and unattended automation, giving companies control when they need it and a hands-off approach when they don’t.
- Workflow Drag and Drop: UiPath offers users the ability to build visual path processes through its drag-and-drop functionality upon the graphical interface and convert these processes into visual workflows.
- Advanced Screen and Data Scraping Options: UiPath’s Screen Scraping scrapes or extracts structured data from applications or web pages. Through data scraping, users can scrape data from tabular content, search queries, and other repetitive structures.
- Image and Textual Automation: Where UI automation is unfeasible in virtual machine contexts or where usual approaches are not enough to find selectors, image and textual automation steps in through UiPath’s tools that support it.
Cautions: It can be costly to coordinate and scale multiple robots, and the solution can be resource-intensive.
As a global leader in enterprise RPA and intelligent automation, Blue Prism is transforming how its users work in over 170 countries and 70 industry verticals by eliminating inefficiencies and enabling its customers to focus valuable hours of work on their businesses.
The low-code automation platform combines RPA with artificial intelligence (AI) and expanded cognitive abilities to give customers an AI-equipped digital workforce.
- Intelligent Automation Platform (IAP): Blue Prism uses a combination of the power of AI and machine learning to provide digital labor that takes over mundane and repetitive tasks that plague human workers, which allows these workers to focus on initiatives that drive value for their organizations.
- Design Studio: Blue Prism’s Design Studio offers users a drag-and-drop approach to process automation building and allows users to reuse events and actions that create processes across the organization.
- Digital Workforce: The digital workforce offered by Blue Prism enables customers to automate their enterprises through autonomous software robots and clever technologies that imitate and learn business processes akin to humans.
Cautions: Blue Prism lacks a multi-tenanted cloud version, and the user interface (UI) feels slightly dated.
Also read: Blue Prism vs UiPath: RPA Tool Comparison
Automation Anywhere uses intelligent software bots that carry out repetitive, tedious, and manual tasks to yield drastic productivity gains, improved employee engagement, and optimized customer experience. It analyzes a company’s processes and highlights the ones that would see the highest ROI from automation, allowing the organization to prioritize its transformation efforts.
The platform empowers customers to automate their end-to-end business processes by offering a cloud-native and web-based automation platform that combines RPA, AI, machine learning, and analytics. The extensibility of the platform, Automation 360, ensures it is easily integrable with enterprise technologies offered by Automation Anywhere’s technology partners.
- Bot Store: Automation Anywhere turbocharges customers’ automation journey through Bot Store, the largest RPA marketplace. The vast selection of prebuilt intelligent automation solutions helps users shorten their time to value.
- RPA Workspace: Automation Anywhere automates all repetitive digital tasks and processes through the automation engine at the core of Automation 360. It bridges technology islands and transforms disconnected processes into automated and unified operations.
- IQ Bot: IQ Bot automatically classifies, extracts, and validates information from business documents and emails through a combination of AI technologies like machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), computer vision, and fuzzy logic.
Cautions: Some modules lack the flexibility of similar products. Conceptualizing and debugging Automation Anywhere has a steep learning curve.
Kofax provides intelligent automation solutions to empower customers to transform their information-intensive business workflows to improve employee efficiency and smoother customer experience. Kofax delivers automation in two products: Kofax RPA and Kofax TotalAgility.
Kofax RPA enables end-to-end automation, so employees can focus on higher-value work. Kofax TotalAgility provides an integrated platform for the automation of content-intensive workflows, combining low-code process design, AI-driven document processing, and more. It is also integrable with Kofax RPA for task automation.
- Low-Code Design Environment: Kofax RPA provides a modern robot design studio for professional and citizen developers to design robots that visually recognize objects, applications, and screen areas in real time.
- Analytics and Process Intelligence: Kofax TotalAgility enables users to enhance decision making, reporting, and workflow optimization through comprehensive analytics across workflows. Kofax RPA has out-of-the-box dashboards to provide insights into robot operations and system performance.
- Intelligent Screen Automation: Kofax RPA’s intelligent screen automation empowers robots to capture screen images and locate and identify user interface elements like buttons, labels, and text boxes within application environments such as Citrix.
Cautions: The user interface is dated.
Pega RPA combines artificial intelligence, customer engagement, and intelligent automation capabilities to enable digital transformation. It empowers employees to make the most out of their time and focus on the customer by letting bots automate repetitive work.
The tool also bridges the gaps between different systems, as the time taken to navigate multiple applications is eliminated. Pega RPA removes silos and integrates its users’ legacy systems. It also speeds up processes, eradicates errors, and gets work done efficiently.
- Attended RPA: Pega RPA enables humans and bots to work side-by-side, as its Attended RPA gives employees the ability to provide the outcomes that customers require faster and with greater accuracy.
- Unattended RPA: Pega’s unattended RPA bots provide optimization and alignment toward digital transformation, as they break through the barriers of legacy systems and old user interfaces.
- Auto-Balancing: To make the most of digital workforces, Pega RPA Auto-Balancing enables users to automatically optimize their robot resources. It ensures users derive value from their process automation investments.
Cautions: The tool is not as intuitive to use as some competitors.
Microsoft Power Automate
Microsoft Power Automate enables its users to create automated processes using flows, drag-and-drop tools, and prebuilt connectors in the hundreds to automate repetitive and monotonous tasks easily.
Power Automate provides Process Advisor to record and visualize end-to-end processes and provide recommendations on automation opportunities. Microsoft Power Automate’s RPA capabilities empower customers to connect legacy and new systems and use UI-based automation with desktop flows to lessen repetitive tasks.
- Attended and Unattended RPA: With Microsoft Power Automate, users can execute desktop flows or respond to prompts on their Windows devices as well as execute desktop flows autonomously on virtual machines or Windows devices.
- Auto-Scaling With Hosted RPA Bots in Preview: Power Automate enables the preview of hosted RPA bots. Users can use basic parameters to create a group of bots and use it to automatically scale virtual machines for their unattended RPA scenarios.
- Ready-to-Use RPA Examples: Microsoft Power Automate for desktop provides users with an ever-growing library of ready-to-use desktop flows to increase the momentum of adoption and innovation. Users can launch examples and explore their logic and customize them as their own.
Cautions: Microsoft Power Automate comes with a steep learning curve, as some of its aspects require the users to have coding ability.
NICE RPA unlocks employees’ potential to deliver outstanding customer experiences by bringing people and robots together to enable intelligent process optimization. Through a single platform, NICE manages and develops its RPA portfolio.
NICE also holds some of the largest scale automation projects and drives enterprise-wide digital transformation. NICE’s RPA bots work consistently and effectively as workforce multipliers, since they increase throughput capacity and empower organizations to hit their return on investment (ROI) goals faster.
- NEVA: NICE Employee Virtual Attendant (NEVA) brings together people and robots to help employees satisfy their key performance indicators (KPIs) and their service operations business goals. Employees can use NEVA attended bots for attended RPA.
- Automation Finder: Automation Finder, NICE’s attended automation solution, is a task mining solution that uses unsupervised machine learning algorithms and accurate scientific approaches to assist enterprises in determining automation candidates.
- Automation Studio: NICE offers a cloud-based environment for the development of robust attended and unattended process automations known as Automation Studio.
Cautions: The UI may come off as unintuitive. Additionally, users may have to write more code than expected for a tool serving no-code developers.
Rocketbot is an impressive RPA platform that not only democratizes access to process automation but also delivers ROI optimization. Regardless of the size of its users’ organizations, Rocketbot is designed to be flexible and compatible with all its users’ environments.
Rocketbot’s RPA solution is an agile tool and can simultaneously execute multiple different processes in parallel in the same environment. Rocketbot RPA is also scalable to enable employees and other users within an organization to build robots by themselves.
- Rocketbot Studio: Rocketbot Studio provides users with the ability to robustly and reliably build robots. It offers a drag-and-drop editor for users to intuitively design robots.
- Rocketbot Orquestador: Rocketbot Orquestador is Rocketbot’s orchestrator that provides users with everything they need to manage and control their robots at any time. This orchestrator enables users to run processes, workflows and more.
- Rocketbot Telescope: Rocketbot Telescope teaches robots to read documents. As a result, users can extract text from images and documents. It is also easily integrable with Rocketbot Studio.
Cautions: Drag-and-drop can be unintuitive.
Other RPA Tools to Consider
We’ve highlighted the RPA solutions that we think are the market leaders, but there are many others out there that may be a good fit for your needs or use cases. Those vendors include:
- Salesforce MuleSoft
Comparing the Top RPA Tools
|Tool||Attended and Unattended Automation||Code-Free Development||Machine Learning and NLP||OCR||Users||Best For||Deployment|
|UiPath||✔||✔||✔||✔||RPA developers and software engineers||Medium to large enterprises||Cloud and on-premises|
|Blue Prism||✔||✔||✔||✔||RPA developers and software engineers||Medium to large enterprises||Cloud and on-premises|
|Automation Anywhere||✔||✔||✔||✔||RPA developers and software engineers||Medium to large enterprises||Cloud, hybrid, and on-premises|
|Kofax||✔||✔||✔||✔||RPA developers and software engineers||Medium to large enterprises||Cloud and on-premises|
|Pega RPA||✔||✔||✔||⨯||Senior software engineers, consultants, and business automation support developers||Small to large enterprises||Fully-managed or client-managed cloud and on-premises|
|Microsoft Power Automate||✔||✔||✔||✔||RPA developers||Small to large enterprises||Cloud and on-premises|
|NICE||✔||✔||✔||✔||RPA developers||Small to large enterprises||Cloud and on-premises|
|Rocketbot||✔||✔||✔||✔||RPA developers||Small to medium enterprises||Cloud, hybrid, and on-premises|
Choosing RPA Tools
When evaluating RPA tools, there are some questions to keep in mind to ensure you select the best tool for your use case.
First, how does the prospective tool discover and define process steps and rules? Do the manual steps, if any, have an impact on the overall efficiency of your use case?
Several RPA vendors market their tools under the promise of the simplicity of creating bots. But how easy is it to create bots using the tools under consideration? Are the low-code or no-code platforms truly low-code or no-code?
You should also evaluate how well the prospective solution does bot deployment, management, and maintenance. And of course, always remember to ensure the tool in consideration is aligned to your use case and business goals.
Article published July 20, 2021 and revised Aug. 24, 2022 by Collins Ayuya