What is cognitive RPA and why do you need it

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Having reaped the benefits of accuracy, speed, and precision, the digitally-driven world is moving beyond simple automation processes. The expectations for an automation tool are increasing from being an avid follower to an optimizer that will not only complete the given task at accelerated pace but also with improved efficiency and productivity.  

The traditional RPA tools complement the two areas where humans lag – precision and agility. These features of robotic software make them a perfect fit for repetitive activities and back-end processes. They prove to be an incredible support in delivering significant output in a shorter turnaround time. As the complexity of processes is growing, the human workforce is developing the need for a sharper assistant who can also bring intelligence on the table. The conventional RPA tool is more or less a brainless fool that can carry out actions with remarkable accuracy and speed. This tool can perfectly do what it is told to do. It is a fine mimic that can duplicate manual actions with 100% precision. With advancements in AI and ML, RPA tools are getting smarter and paving way for hybrid, cognitive RPA platforms. 

Cognitive Robotic Process Automation (CRPA) is a business-driven marriage between Artificial Intelligence and robotic software. The offspring of this marriage is a hybrid tool that can perform more intelligent and complex tasks than simple data entriesThe amalgamation of AI and RPA, a cognitive RPA or hybrid RPA, fits the bill of these expectations. Having found the appropriate candidate in CRPA their rising demands, business organizations are swiftly putting things in motion for its adoption. This will be the first step in realizing true hyperautomation.  

Gartner has placed Hyperautomation as the top technology trend for 2020. Hyperautomation leverages advanced technologies of AI and ML and is a well-thought combination of tools such as RPA, Intelligent business process management suite (iBPMS). As predicted in a recent report, there will be a staggering 40% Compound Annual Growth Rate for the Cognitive RPA market from 2019 to 2027. This growth is expected to make the CRPA market worth $150 billion globally by the end of 2027. 

What is Cognitive RPA? 

Cognitive RPA is an automation tool that can understand deep complexities of a process and adapt to the varying requirements as and when required. With the ability to sift through structured and unstructured data bases, a CRPA tool limits the need for human intervention in carrying out labor-intensive activities. The legacy RPA tools are great at execution, but terrible at making judgements. This shortcoming of RPA is overcome by injecting cognition into it. 

In addition to undertaking the three key responsibilities of automation, accuracy, and speed, a cognitive robotic process automation tool drives analytic-based decisions. Cognitive RPA derives its intelligence from the core features of Natural Language Processing (NLP), Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and Machine Learning (ML). These characteristics help this evolved version of RPA to make sense out of volumes of data to extract actionable information. While the simple RPA tool is unable to perform actions that are beyond the scope of its programmed regulations, cognitive RPA employs machine learning to adapt and improve with the changing needs. 

Cognitive Robotic Process Automation is a holistic approach that encompasses technology, processes, and people to yield higher efficiency, better productivity, and increased scalability. The technology of robotic automation is integrated with the machine learning capabilities to form a mechanical ‘brain’, which can both direct and follow. It can analyze, understand, and adapt as per the evolving scenarios. This part of ‘analysis, understanding, and adaptation’ required manual intellect with the legacy RPA tools. By bringing AI and ML into the picture, the technology becomes more intuitive, sophisticated, and independent, if you will. 

Having said that, the introduction of Cognitive RPA does not equate to the elimination of human workforce. In fact, the reality is opposite to the general belief. Instead of diminishing the importance of manual resources, advanced technologies such as CRPA augments the responsibility and necessity for human cognition. This is because, despite the utmost sophistication of Artificial intelligence, there is only so much it can do. It cannot compare to the complexities of a human brain. Therefore, rather than being a ‘competitor’, Cognitive RPA is the pillar that complements and supports the human workforce in completing business processes with utmost expertise. 

Putting human into robot 

Robotic process automation takes the robot out of the human; cognitive automation complements and amplifies both the human, and RPA,” said Dr. Mary Lacity, a Walton Professor of Information Systems, during the launch of Blockchain Center of Excellence.  

RPA tools eliminate the need for humans to work like robots and perform mechanized, repetitive tasks for long hours. By assuming the responsibility for such tasks, RPA allowed the manual workforce to stop enervating themselves and be what they are supposed to be – humans! As they get a breather from laborious activities with the help of robotic process automation, they can put their intelligence for improving business-driven efficiency of the processes. 

Cognitive RPA takes one step further with the help of artificial intelligence and deep learning. Previously, humans were doing both the tasks of thinking and executing. Now, with cognitive RPA, the robotic software is being integrated with human-like cognition so the responsibility of both planning and execution shift to the tool. Thus, the entire onus of performing an activity is entirely moved from human workforce to the cognitive RPA tools. But, make no mistake – the onus is moved but the criticality is not! Manual resources have become more important than ever. 

CRPA will still be accountable for repetitive, lengthy, and time-consuming activities. But the activities will require some level of intelligence and understanding on the tool’s part for successful completion. These activities are primarily data-driven and rely on Cognitive RPA’s analytic expertise. From offering end-to-end customer service through chatbots and processing financial transactions to insurance claim processing and comparing documents for discrepancies, CRPA is finding practical application across various industries and organizations. It can effectively take over activities such as: 

  1. Data entry tasks for major enterprise planning systems 
  2. Juggling between multiple screens to perform a complex task such as billings and payments 
  3. Reading and replying to an email based on the tone and context 
  4. Verify and validate user credentials for loan processing or other financial transactions 

A future with these humanoid robots 

Professor Lacity believes, “Service automation technologies can deliver a triple- value for shareholders, customers and employees – but only if managed well.” 

Having limited functionality, RPA could not offer a 100% automation solution. As a matter of fact, there are only about 20% companies who were able to adopt and materialize RPA properly. The rest of RPA adopters either faced managerial hurdles or could not get the technology right.  

CRPA brings forth immense benefits and promises. The only trick lies in its proper adoption and successful implementation. This is where, testing assumes a critical role. RPA testing or CRPA testing will make sure that the technology is implemented seamlessly without disrupting the existing business processes. As the technology expands its dominance over all the industries including finance, manufacturing, retail, hospital, healthcare, telecommunications, and retail, sophisticated RPA testing solutions need to be chosen and deployed meticulously. By leveraging test automation services for RPA, organizations can improve their time to market while increasing productivity and efficiency. 

At Cigniti, our dedicated innovation practice team has RPA experts empower business processing operations using both rule-based & knowledge-based process automation. Connect with us here. 


  • Cigniti Technologies

    Cigniti is the world’s leading AI & IP-led Digital Assurance and Digital Engineering services company with offices in India, the USA, Canada, the UK, the UAE, Australia, South Africa, the Czech Republic, and Singapore. We help companies accelerate their digital transformation journey across various stages of digital adoption and help them achieve market leadership.

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