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What is RPA? (and why it's not going to take your job)

pt-br: link.

What is RPA?

RPA is an acronym that, in English, stands for Robotic Process Automation. Translating into Portuguese, it could be something like Robotic Process Automation. It is a technology that facilitates the execution of various activities that are manual or very repetitive, automating them with the support of configurable robots, tools, and/or programming.

What types of tasks are possible to automate?

Automating manual and repetitive tasks is possible, as mentioned in the definition of RPA. But let's take a look at some examples:

  • Fill out forms, documents, or spreadsheets;
  • Generate reports from these documents or spreadsheets;
  • Clean or process data;
  • A sequence of clicks and actions to open websites or systems that are used daily;
  • Generate invoices;
  • Management of mailboxes;
  • Data transfer between different systems;
  • Among many others.
  • The point is that we can automate almost anything that can be done without human intervention.

How to make these automation projects happen?

It's possible to make it happen in different ways. There are tools with varying formats of work that can help automate an activity. There are also strongly recommended programming languages to use when developing something, such as Python. We'll talk more about this in other articles.

The value of automation

Automation can make something very precious to us possible: time. It allows more time in people's lives so that they can focus on tasks that are more complex and require other types of effort, such as something that requires us to make a decision, for example.

RPA, a process that allows us to automate tasks, can also help with other significant things for companies: reducing costs and, as a result freeing up time from repetitive activities, increasing productivity in what is most important.

Can automation affect people's jobs?

A few years ago, I heard this type of question more often, in addition to being visible the fear in the eyes of people who received contact from the company's IT area saying that they needed to teach how to do a specific task so that it could be automated by some tool.

I noticed this question came back recently, and it's ironically funny how humans are afraid of any "thing" that might do something in our place.

RPA may affect a few specific jobs, but not necessarily. Companies need to involve employees in the automation process and prepare them for changes, offering training and opportunities to acquire new skills and understand where they can better apply their capabilities, such as more exciting tasks which need our ability to make decisions, create, solve problems, deal with people, among many other things.

So why are people afraid of automation?

There may be several reasons for this, but I want to leave some of them here for reflection and which I believe are the leading causes of this fear:

  • Most people may not fully understand how RPA works and how it can directly help with their specific tasks;
  • Insecurity about their abilities because they interpret that "if a robot can do it for me, then they don't need me here";
  • Responsibility shifts when your tasks are automated, which can be challenging without company support.
  • Lack of clear communication to understand how automation affects your work routine and career prospects.
  • Your company must think about using RPA on a day-to-day basis. Still, in addition to technological concerns, communication with the people involved is essential so they all clearly understand what is being done. There's almost no problem that you can't reduce the impact with communication that works, right?

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I hope this article has helped you in some way.

Thank you for reading this far, and I leave the channel open to exchange ideas and feedback.

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