1. What is the difference between RPA software robots and chatbots?
This question comes up a lot. Many enterprises have “automation” initiatives underway. Specific industries and functions like manufacturing and field services have already reaped some value out of automating legacy, mundane processes, but now the conversation is changing and they’re asking us how chatbots relate to or conflict with their existing RPA strategies and investments.
On the surface, RPA robots, or Robotic Processing Automation software might sound a lot like a bot. RPA is typically a tool used for automating manual, time-consuming, complex, rule-based workflows, and functions for back-end administrative IT work. RPA robots are logic and algorithm driven and they execute pre-programmed rules on structured data and mimic humans in their logical processing and decision making. BUT, RPA robots lack complex, nonlinear process support, can replicate errors hundreds, if not thousands of times due to their reliance on programming scripts, can come with lots of hidden costs, and above all else, have been known to negatively impact employee morale because they’re literally meant to replace or reduce human labor.
Chatbots, on the other hand, facilitate intelligent dialogue between people, systems, and things, which creates a back-and-forth exchange of information initiated by a human, rather than pre-programmed rules. They can live in virtually any channel, from websites and mobile apps, to emails, messaging platforms, collaboration tools, and more. This conversational UI not only widens the use case and task applications for chatbots far beyond that of RPAs, but it helps simplify complex interfaces for users, reduces app fatigue, makes digital interactions more human and positive for employees and customers.
This is a high level answer, but we’ve done the heavy lifting on RPA v. Chatbot research for you. For more information on this topic, you can read Robotic Process Automation Software Robots & Chatbots: What’s Different, What’s Similar? And What’s Next?