Four Key Differences between RPA and Cognitive Automation
In 2017, IDC reported that the highest spend within the artificial intelligence (AI) space would be on cognitive applications, predicting that global corporate spending on cognitive and AI systems will grow into a $46 billion market by 2020. With its staggering potential for growth in the next couple of years, cognitive applications stand to become one of the most widespread and fastest growing emerging technologies seen in recent times.
This rapid growth also creates confusion, as many organizations are unable to determine the right technology to invest in with all the swirling nomenclature around AI-related technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) and cognitive automation. We often hear questions such as:
- Are we doing the right thing by investing in RPA?
- Should we invest in cognitive automation instead?
- How do we decide between investing in RPA and cognitive automation?
Thus, we want to demystify both technologies and explain their differences to help organizations make a more informed investment decision.
Difference in Application
RPA is a technology used to mimic repetitive human tasks with more precision and accuracy by using software robots. RPA is ideal for those processes that do not require decision-making or human intervention. However, there are going to be plenty of situations that do require human decision-making, and when there is voluminous data involved, it can become very challenging for the human workforce to make the right decisions.
This is where cognitive automation comes to the rescue. As a subset of AI, cognitive automation mimics human behavior, which is in many ways more complex than the actions and tasks mimicked by RPA processes. One notable example is how doctors leverage cognitive automation with AI techniques to analyze a patient’s condition to determine a diagnosis.
Difference in Technology
RPA relies on basic technologies, such as screen scraping, macro scripts and workflow automation. Cognitive automation, on the other hand, uses more advanced technologies, such as natural language processing (NLP), text analytics, data mining, semantic technology and machine learning, to make it easier for the human workforce to make informed business decisions. RPA does not require coding, as it depends more on the configuration and deployment of frameworks, whereas cognitive automation uses machine learning and requires the extensive use of programming knowledge.
Difference in the Method of Automation
RPA is rules-based and works on the ‘íf-then’ principle. It is a process-oriented technology, which is often used to work on time-consuming tasks that were previously performed by offshore teams. Cognitive automation is a knowledge-based technology. Here, the machine goes through several human-like conversations and behaviors to understand how humans talk or behave and define its own rules.
Difference in Data Processing
Let’s look at the roles of a data operator and a data scientist to demonstrate the differences between RPA and cognitive automation for data processing. The key role of a data operator is to enter structured data into a system, while a data scientist has to draw inferences from various types of data and present it in a consumable format to management to make informed decisions. RPA and cognitive automation work within the same role-based parameters.
RPA is like the data operator and works on standardized data. It can process the data only when it is available in a structured or semi-structured format. Any other format, such as unstructured data, requires the help of cognitive automation to build relationships and find similarities between the items by learning from association.
For example, if an organization has thousands of unstructured invoices and purchase orders sitting in a database, cognitive automation tools can build relationships between the entities by asking questions such as:
- Have I seen this quality before?
- How was it used earlier?
- How is it connected to what was seen earlier?
And so on. By asking these questions, the tool can interpret and process data with minimal or no human supervision.
Which One is Right for Your Organization?
The choice of technology depends on the nature of your process. If your process involves structured, voluminous data and is strictly rules-based, then RPA would be the right solution. However, if you deal with complex, unstructured data that requires human intervention, then cognitive automation would be more apt for your organization.
While RPA provides immediate ROI, cognitive automation often takes more time as it involves learning the human behavior and language to interpret and automate the data. However, if your process is a combination of simple tasks and requires human intervention, then you can opt for a combination of RPA and cognitive automation.
The best way to develop a solution that works for your organization is by partnering with a software vendor who understands the evolution from RPA to cognitive automation and the importance of combining the two technologies to fortify RPA tools with cognitive automation to provide an end-to-end automation solution. Chances are, you will probably need to utilize both technologies sooner than later. So, for now, understanding how they work is critical to making the right investments at the right times.
Periférico Sur #8110,
Col. El Mante
45609 Tlaquepaque, Jalisco
41 University Drive,
Newtown, PA 18940
USAP: +1-267-759-9000F: +1-267-759-8989
110 110th Ave. NE,
Bellevue, WA 98004
21 Drydock Avenue,
Suite 410 W,
Boston, MA 02210
101 East 8th Ave,
Conshohocken, PA 19428
Los Angeles, CAMap
11601 Wilshire Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Mountain View, CAMap
465 Fairchild Dr,
Mountain View, CA 94043
New York, NYMap
24 West 25th Street,
New York, NY 10010
USAP: +1-267-759-9000F: +1-267-759-8989
30 South 15th Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19102
San Francisco, CAMap
222 Kearny Street,
San Francisco, CA 94108
7901 Jones Branch Drive,
McLean, VA 22102
Nottendorfer Gasse 11,
69 Bulgaria Blvd.,
City Tower building,
Czech RepublicP: +420 22 888 28 23
Frankfurt am MainMap
60486 Frankfurt am Main,
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4,
Al. Grunwaldzka 472E
Chorzowska Str. 148
Opolska Str. 114
ul. Grzybowska 62
Browary Warszawskie, building J, 9th floor
Ul. Piotra Skargi 1,
Av. Imperio Argentina, 19-21,
Boulevard Lilienthal 2,
8152 Glattpark (Opfikon)
17A Volodymyra Monomaha Street,
33G 23 Serpnya Street,
Kyiv: Registered officeMap
28 Fizkultury Street,
P: +380-44-390-5457F: +380-44-390-0861
Kyiv: Visitors officeMap
14B Kudryashova Street,
45 O.Stepanivny Street,
UkraineP: +380-32-242-4642F: +380-44-390-5458
51 Ovodova Street,
UkraineP: +380-432-551-294 +380-432-551-275F: +380-432-551-293
31 Highgate Cct
Kellyville NSW 2155P: +61-28-310-82-72
Unit B01, 23/F,
No. 236, 6th Zhongshan Road,
Yuexiu District, Guangzhou,
Room B509, 5th Floor,
48 Weihai Road,
Huangpu District, Shanghai,
China 200000P: +86-21-53080606
3/F, Block 5, Vision Shenzhen Business Park,
9th Gaoxin South Road,
Shenzhen Hi-tech Industrial Park,
Nanshan District, Shenzhen,
Guangdong, China 518057
Building 12, Creative Industrial Park,
328 Xinghu Street,
Suzhou Industrial Park,
Suzhou, China 215123
越秀新都会大厦中座 23楼 B01室
198 Wellington Street,
Hong KongP: +852-5808-6018
10, 11 & 12th Floors,
Salarpuria Sattva Knowledge City,
Plot No. 2, Phase - 1,
Survey No. 83/1,
Hyderabad, Telangana - 500081
SmartWork Business Center Pvt Ltd,
Suite 8, Level 1,
West Wing, Nyati Unitree,
Samrat Ashok Road,
Yerwada, Pune - 411006,
Shibadaimon Centre Building 10th
JapanP: +81-03-6880-9198F: +81-03-6880-9201
5 Shenton Way
UIC Building, #10-01,
Singapore (068808)P: +65-6911-6888
United Arab Emirates
EPAM Systems FZ-LLC Dubai Branch
2307 Arenco Tower, Dubai Media City
PO Box 501929 Dubai
United Arab EmiratesP: +971-4-568-3569
15 Khorenatsi Street,
Elite Plaza Business Center,
6A Masherov Avenue,
BelarusP: +375-162-52-5268F: +375-162-50-9888
80 Rechitsky Avenue,
BelarusP: +375-17-389-0100, ext. 54079F: +375-232-70-50-31
87B Gorkogo Street,
BelarusP: +375-17-389-0100, ext. 69011
1/1 Academician Kuprevich Street,
BelarusP: +375-17-389-0100F: +375-17-268-6699
19 Cosmonaut Street,
BelarusP: +375-17-389-0100, ext. 1001
11-a Stroitelei Avenue,
BelarusP: +375-17-389-0100, ext. 54433
9th Radialnaya Street,
RussiaP: +7-495-730-6362F: +7-495-730-6361
150 V. Sivkova Street,
30 Poltavskaya Street
603089 Nizhny Novgorod
16 Gogolya Street,
22/2 Zastavskaya Street,
196084 Saint Petersburg
RussiaP: +7-812-611-1094F: +7-812-611-1094
21 Michurina Street,
37 Tankistov Street,
7 Akademika Silina Street,
141313 Sergiev Posad
RussiaP: +7-496-547-11-39F: +7-496-547-11-39
31E Yubileynaya Street,
RussiaP: +7-495-730-6360, ext. 47650
8 Kolodkina Street,
RussiaP: +7-4822-630-070 +7-4822-630-071 +7-4822-630-072F: +7-4822-630-073