RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation, which is the automating of manual processes, or events where there is human-based intervention. A simple example could be automating ‘shadow IT’, where the ‘formal’ database system sends a file to another database which is then extracted and manually entered into a ‘shadow’ system to serve a specific business purpose such as granular reports, or analysis, not offered by the ‘formal’ IT system.
RPA could also stand for Rules-based Process Automation, since most of the tools and platforms which support RPA are rules based engines which can be customised. An example would be the rules around extracting data from unstructured files such as PDFs, Excel, CSV or Word files and then using ‘rules’ and logic to clean, analyse and input into a system or process.
AI or Automated/Artificial Intelligence is somewhat different. AI is cognition based and AI logic or models, attempt to imitate cognitive processes and implement events and procedures without human intervention (as much as is feasible). It is more than the creation and running of rules-based algorithms, emphasising intelligence, choice, rational logic and cognitive awareness. Voice activated computer systems providing a service or providing information are examples.
The following slides outline the key differences between the 2 concepts, how RPA is used, some tools and platforms and a specific use case. You may need to zoom (top right in the browser beside the URL field, 3 buttons, click to zoom).