RPA 1.0 was a one trick pony

The application of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven process mechanisation in the form of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) brings out strong opinions in the software engineering community - not everyone agrees on the scope, competency and progression point of these technologies.

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Who would have thought that robotics could get so politically charged? The application of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven process mechanisation in the form of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) really brings out strong opinions in the software engineering community.

It appears that handing over human tasks to software robots is a sensitive issue with the technology community variously up in arms (or robotic clenching extensions) about what constitutes intelligence, how smart these systems have been through their recent evolution, and where exactly we are on the RPA development curve.

In recent years, many enterprises were seduced by the lure of RPA technology. This is software designed to automate the repetitive, often mundane manual tasks (some call it grunt or donkey work) of office-based staff. Potentially ubiquitous in its application, RPA was created with the promise of shouldering donkey grunts for everyone from marketing administrators, to sales agents, finance invoice processors or insurance claims processing departments and more.

The value seemed clear; take away low-value administrative work and replace it with streamlined tech. The promise was not just a one-off reduction in costs, but a steep and permanent rise in productivity. After all, software can work day and night, needs no holidays or sick leave, and makes no pay and condition demands.

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