10 dark secrets of robotic process automation

RPA promises to streamline workflows, glue together legacy systems, and empower business users to solve their own problems. But beneath the big wins lurk hidden issues worth addressing.

10 dark secrets of robotic process automation
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Every good science fiction story has at least one robot butler, an all-knowing, all-seeing genie that can make all our problems go away in a split second. The people who coined the buzzword “robotic process automation” were clearly trying to tap into this sentiment. Customers who buy into the platform expect to be able to hand over their chores to a computer butler so the humans left on staff can concentrate on the bigger challenges.

The good news is that there are plenty of examples of the buzzword being accurate. Companies are simplifying workflows and building out sophisticated dashboards that suck up data and spit out useful infographics. RPA tools have proved successful at enabling the computer to do some of the most onerous tasks that annoyed everyone up and down the food chain.

RPA tools also give new life to legacy systems by adding a new layer that can intelligently manipulate the old code and help extend its shelf life. Many RPA tools can also be deployed by non-programmers, empowering those who know the pain of working with legacy tools to drag and drop new icons to improve their workflows. Pick the right tool and implementation, and anyone who can write spreadsheet macros can streamline work processes using RPA.

All of this magic is clear, providing a wonderful facade that sweeps away much of the toil and drudgery. But beneath the veneer RPA adds to your systems hide several issues that could prove problematic over time.

The inevitable is delayed

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