Robotic Process Automation vs. Artificial Intelligence: Exploring The Difference

Regardless of the industry you’re in or your job title, there’s a wave of technological innovation sweeping over the work world, and it’s creating an ever-expanding gap between those who stay current and those who let themselves fall behind.

What side of this gap do you want to be on?

Without a doubt, it’s to your advantage to try and stay on top of the latest and greatest trends in technology going on around us—and chief among these are innovations involving robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI). Both automation and AI are forcing a rapid evolution in how businesses think, plan, operate, and execute—and those that are going to break through the noise and emerge as disruptors of the status quo and leaders of their industries will be at the forefront in figuring out how to harness the power and potential of these new tools.

Let’s take a closer look at RPA and AI—including how they differ—in order to get a better understanding of what they’re all about.

A Look at RPA

In simple terms, RPA refers to the use of robotic software to mimic and perform human actions. Think of a somewhat rote daily routine handled by a member of an accounting team—for example, processing invoices. Software designed to simply retrieve and store invoices sent via email into a predetermined folder so that they can be processed, a basic function that requires no higher-level thinking or intelligence, is a prime example of RPA. By automating and thereby relieving humans from having to perform various tedious and menial tasks, their time can be repurposed toward other essential work responsibilities. Furthermore, automating these tasks reduces error and increases efficiency, so the benefits to businesses that choose to embrace RPA are clear.

A Look at AI

AI is used for tasks that require more advanced and human-like thinking, including decision-making based on certain key variables and learning. For example, software that’s designed to learn a customer’s tastes and preferences and continually refine and tailor its approach based on this incoming information is essentially simulating human intelligence. An example is pandoIQ, which uses AI to automate the job posting process to maximize efficiency and results for HR professionals.

So, if RPA is essentially like a helping hand that’s meant to eliminate having to use valuable time and energy on grunt work, AI is more like an automated replacement or supplemental employee that’s meant to perform the role of a person, and even improve over time.

Despite their differences, they do share the following in common—as technology continues to evolve and improve over time, RPA and AI software will continue to become more powerful and able to handle an increasing array of tasks that are currently handled by humans. And although there are certainly mixed opinions regarding the value and utility of expanding automation through the work world and what that means for the human workforce, it’s tough to deny that RPA and AI are here to stay and will play an ever-expanding role in HR in the present and future.

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