Top 21 RPA (robotic process automation) tools today

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A magic button to automate away the tedium of workplace tasks is the promise of robotic process automation, a smart set of tools that deploys AI and low-code options to simplify workflows and save everyone time while also adding safeguards that can prevent mistakes.

Most organizations have large chunks of dusty software that work perfectly well but require business users to spend their days clicking on the same boxes in the same pattern and waiting for the same screen to refresh. RPA tools are meant to replace that tedium, adding a new layer that deals with repetitive tasks without having to reinvent the old code at the core.

RPA also integrates new AI algorithms into these old stacks. Many RPA platforms offer computer vision and machine learning tools that can guide the older code. Optical character recognition, for example, might extract a purchase order from an uploaded document image and then trigger accounting software to deal with it. The ability to suck words and numbers from images are a big help for document-heavy businesses like insurance or banking. 

The biggest benefit, however, may be how RPA tools are “programmed,” or “trained” — a process by which the platforms’ robots “learn” watching business users click away. This job, sometimes called “process discovery,” can use a click stream to imitate what your users just did — similar to how spreadsheet macros can be created.

Still, RPA isn’t automatic. There is a notable amount of manual intervention and tweaking necessary during training. Sometimes code must be written to handle what can’t be achieved by a preconfigured bot. But you won’t have to do very much of this. Moreover, the bots keep getting smarter, making training easier and edge cases less frequent. AI routines can also help look for patterns that may speed up the bots in the future.



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