What is it about?

RPA is an umbrella term for tools that operate on the user interface of other computer systems in the way a human would do. RPA aims to replace people by automation done in an “outside-in’’ manner. This differs from the classical “inside-out” approach to improve information systems. Unlike traditional workflow technology, the information system remains unchanged. Gartner defines Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as follows: “RPA tools perform [if, then, else] statements on structured data, typically using a combination of user interface interactions, or by connecting to APIs to drive client servers, mainframes or HTML code. An RPA tool operates by mapping a process in the RPA tool language for the software robot to follow, with runtime allocated to execute the script by a control dashboard.”. Hence, RPA tools aim to reduce the burden of repetitive, simple tasks on employees.

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Why is it important?

Commercial vendors of RPA tools have witnessed a surge in demand. Moreover, many new vendors entered the market in the last 2 years. This is no surprise as most organizations are still looking for ways to cut costs and quickly link legacy applications together. RPA is currently seen as a way to quickly achieve a high Return on Investment (RoI). There are dedicated RPA vendors like AutomationEdge, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, Kryon Systems, Softomotive, and UiPath that only offer RPA software. There are also many other vendors that have embedded RPA functionality in their software or that are offering several tools (not just RPA). For example, Pegasystems and Cognizant provide RPA next to traditional BPM, CRM, and BI functionality. The goal of this editorial is to reflect on these developments and to discuss RPA research challenges for the BISE community.

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This page is a summary of: Robotic Process Automation, Business & Information Systems Engineering, May 2018, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s12599-018-0542-4.
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