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Robotic Process Automation & ITPA: Why the Differences are Important


There are two challenges often tied to emerging technologies – initial confusion over what (if anything) the technology name even means, and/or, misidentifying it with other, related technologies. “Big data” is an example of a widespread technology whose name meant little when it first appeared and whose capabilities were initially viewed by many as just a more robust version of conventional business analytics. Today, robotic process automation (RPA) also encounters these challenges, particularly from ITPA (IT process automation).

For many people the term “robotic” immediately brings to mind industrial robotic technology and a physical robot, not the notion of


a nonphysical software robot performing process activities by emulating human activities and interacting – just as humans do – with applications. Once this first misunderstanding is cleared up, a second misunderstanding – based on viewing it as just a new label for an already existing technology – can often take its place. People can be inclined to say, “Doesn’t RPA really mean IT process automation? It’s just a slightly different acronym.”  

It’s no wonder people tend to view RPA & ITPA as one and the same. After all, they both leverage software tools to automate processes – promoting efficiencies, lowering costs, raising accuracy and elevating quality. In fact, RPA & ITPA are different, and those differences illuminate hurdles to RPA’s potential and trajectory over the next few years.

How RPA Differs from ITPA

What these Distinctions Illuminate about RPA’s Potential

These distinctions matter because they illuminate the gap between current RPA reality and it’s long term potential. Further these distinctions point to who owns actions needed to close those gaps.

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