There are few aspects of robotic process automation (RPA) that are more important for a business to understand than the differences between attended and unattended robots. Not only are these differences key to making sense of how RPA works, but having a sense of what they are and what they do is essential in order to choose the right solution for the right scenario.
Both attended and unattended robots can automatically perform processes based on a set workflow and – with today’s more advanced solutions – their built-in artificial intelligence. But the two types of robots are activated differently, they communicate with humans differently, and they run on different computers. And while most RPA providers offer attended automation (performed by attended robots), unattended automation (performed by unattended robots), or both, Kryon stands out for its uniquely useful Hybrid Automation solution in which both kinds of robots work together.
So what are they most important aspects of each solution type to keep in mind when trying to choose the optimal tool to automate your business processes?
Attended Automation: always by your side
While it’s common to hear attended automation described as the type of RPA that runs on the user’s computer, that largely misses the point for those companies that are looking to automate their processes. While it’s true that attended robots are installed on an employee’s desktop or laptop, attended automation’s most important distinguishing factor is that each robot is assigned to a specific user. Whenever an employee wants their robot to perform a process, the robot is always on hand; the employee just calls the robot into action in order to enjoy the accuracy and time savings of automation.
With Kryon, the robot can also be triggered automatically by a predefined user action. For example, a call center may want to create rules to ensure that each customer service representative handles customer information properly. Anytime an employee violates one of these rules, an attended robot can either display a message alerting the employee to their mistake or automatically perform a predefined process for the employee.
Kryon Attended Automation also stands out for not only offering the conventional Do It mode in which robots automatically perform specific processes instead of employees, but also offering a unique Guide Me mode in which an attended robot can visually show a full-time employee how to perform a process in order to train them.
In many cases, companies choose attended automation because unattended automation is not a viable option for certain processes. If a process can’t be automated from end to end – for example, if at some point during the process an employee must make a decision – then only an attended robot can do the job. Because that robot is assigned to a specific employee and runs on their computer, the robot can simply prompt the user for the required input in order to complete the process.
But if attended automation offers the convenience of being available anytime an employee wants to use it, it’s the only solution in which robots can perform the automatable portions of processes that also require user input, and – in the case of Kryon Attended Automation – it can even help train the user, then why wouldn’t everybody want to use attended automation?
For starters, it’s hard to share attended robots among multiple employees, although this problem can be overcome by giving each relevant employee their own robot. More importantly, because an attended robot runs right on the user’s computer, that user cannot continue working on their computer while the robot is in action. The robot effectively takes over the screen, temporarily preventing the employee from accessing it. While that’s not generally a problem for processes that an attended robot can perform quickly, it can be disruptive for major processes that take hours to run.
Fortunately, many of those major, time-consuming processes do not need the level of user interaction that attended automation offers.
Unattended Automation: when you want a robot to do the heavy lifting
As with attended automation, it’s easy to describe unattended automation based on where it runs (in this case, on a virtual machine), but that misses the point from the perspective of a business user. If you’re interested in RPA, the most important thing to keep in mind about unattended automation is that each unattended robot is designed to perform processes for multiple employees.
Instead of being called by a specific user or automatically triggered by an action performed on a user’s computer, an unattended robot can perform processes that are assigned to it based on a set schedule, an API, or a predefined event (such as when an email is received or a database is changed). With an advanced solution like Kryon Unattended Automation, processes can be prioritized automatically according to rules and priority levels assigned by the user – and they can be monitored and managed using a tool such as the Kryon Console.
Perhaps the most important advantage of unattended automation is that, because each robot runs on a virtual machine, it does not prevent users from continuing to work on their own computers. Because of this benefit and unattended robots’ ability to execute processes assigned to them from multiple sources, unattended automation is generally a better solution than attended automation for major processes that take a long time to run. For example, if a major corporation’s finance and accounting department wants to automatically process a massive number of received invoices, unattended automation is the way to go.
But what if a process that takes a long time to run relies on user input? What if a company has a time-consuming process and, although most of it can automated, at least one of its steps requires an employee to make a decision – for example, to approve or reject an invoice?
That’s exactly why we at Kryon created the first-ever RPA solution in which attended and unattended robots work together.
Nintex Kryon Hybrid Automation: always on hand, without occupying your computer
While attended and unattended robots each have their advantages, the reality is that even for the fastest robots, many common processes take a significant amount of time (although typically far less time than a full-time employee would need to complete them, to say nothing of the robots’ higher levels of accuracy and reliability). When a business automates a process with Kryon Hybrid Automation, an attended robot performs the portions of that process that require human involvement, and an unattended robot running on a virtual machine performs the rest of the process.
Making Kryon Hybrid Automation a particularly versatile solution, the communication between attended and unattended robots works in both directions. In some cases, an employee can initiate a process by activating their attended robot – and then the attended robot can trigger an unattended robot to perform the rest of the process. In other cases, an unattended robot can start performing a process when activated by a schedule, an event, or an API – and when that unattended robot needs an employee to make a decision, it sends the process to an attended robot, which in turn prompts the employee to perform the part of the process requiring human input. A more complex process may even be transferred multiple times between attended and unattended robots.
The upshot for the employee? When dealing with a process that is not suitable for the end-to-end automation that unattended robots offer, Hybrid Automation allows the user to automate as much of the process as possible – without needing to give up access to their computer for the entire time a robot is in action.
How to Choose?
When it comes to automation solutions, one size doesn’t fit all – but it is usually clear which type of automation is ideal for a given situation. The names “attended” and “unattended” may not tell business users much about how each solution works, but it’s important to keep in mind that attended robots are ideal for small-scale processes initiated by an individual user, whereas unattended robots are a better match for major processes that can be automated from end to end.
For processes that are “neither here nor there,” Kryon Hybrid Automation can offer businesses the flexibility of attended automation, without inconveniencing employees by giving robots control over their computers for extended periods of time. Put differently, Hybrid Automation offers the convenience and time savings of unattended automation, even when dealing with processes that cannot be automated from end to end because they require a full-time employee to make a decision.
For today’s large enterprises, it is common to have employees performing processes that fall into all three categories. For those looking to scale automation throughout their organizations in order to enjoy as much of the key benefits of RPA as possible, it is likely that attended, unattended, and hybrid automation can all play a part in achieving that goal. It’s just a matter of choose the right type of automation for the right process.
Interested in learning more about Kryon’s attended, unattended, and hybrid automation solutions and the benefits they offer a wide variety of businesses? Click here to schedule a live demo.