Is RPA the solution to your system integration challenges?

RPA (Robotic Process Automation) has become a buzzword in recent years. And we all know buzzwords get to a point where they eventually start going in one ear, and out the other.

What exactly does it mean? Is it really worth investing in? And what are its benefits? Is RPA the solution to your system integration challenges?

The term RPA was coined back in 2011 by MIT professor David Gondek. He defined it as “a software application that automates repetitive tasks using predefined rules.” In other words, it’s a type of artificial intelligence that allows computers to perform certain tasks without human intervention, its the mouse without you needing to drive.

Process automation is becoming a key part of the modern enterprise IT landscape. In fact, Gartner predicted that by 2020, 50% of organizations will deploy at least some form of RPA. If you haven’t started using RPA in yet, you’ll most certainly be left behind.

Integration challenges solved with automation

Business automation technology is often used as a short-term solution to bridge gaps in an organization’s ability to access information. But while RPA can help organizations move quickly and efficiently, it shouldn’t replace proper API development. Or should it?

In some cases, RPA can provide a quick way to connect existing systems to one another, allowing employees to perform repetitive tasks without having to learn how to use complex software. In others, RPA can give companies a chance to test out ideas about where future workflows might go.

RPA can put power into your employees hands. They don’t need to learn how API’s and systems talk to each other, as long as they know how the front end application or web portal works they can automate data loading or extracting using automation. What this means is that you can let your developers get on with more complex and pressing tasks, and allow your less technical staff to be more hands on. In our experience, both of these personas will feel empowered and energised.

The Data Integration RPA Use Case

In today’s world, it is very easy to integrate multiple sources of data into one system. However, there are times when you simply cannot afford to do this manually. For example, imagine you need to integrate customer information from 5 different databases into your CRM. This could take days of work and require a large team of people. In addition, each database requires custom code written specifically for that source. This solution is expensive and prone to errors.

Enterprises often use APIs to connect applications together. These APIs allow developers to write software programs that interact with the application without needing to change the underlying program. They are great for building mobile apps, cloud computing, web portals, etc. However, most APIs are designed to work with a specific set of technologies and protocols. There is no standard API protocol for accessing data across multiple databases. As a result, enterprises are forced to build custom solutions to solve this problem.

What happens more commonly is that human beings transfer data manually in and outside of these systems. This is where RPA can help.

RPA automates data transfer through the front door which can be easier and cheaper to implement than via the backdoor. Automations can be used to transfer data within an organization as well as between organizations. RPA can even be used to transfer data between internal and external systems – a simpler and less error prone way.

RPA is for everyone

Process automation is a major enabler to help businesses transform themselves, automating business processes and deliver better customer experiences. But it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Digital transformation requires a holistic approach. And while automation is critical, humans must continue to add value to the process. They do this by solving problems, inventing solutions, and making decisions. 

This is where we see the real potential of RPA. Business automation allows your team to focus on higher level goals, helping organizations achieve three things: 

  • improving operational efficiency; 
  • enhancing employee satisfaction and 
  • increasing revenue growth.

Microsoft is constantly rolling out new solutions or templates using the PowerPlatform. Check them out and see which ones you can utilise in your company.