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What the Tech is… Robotics and RPA

We return this week with a new installment of our #WhatTheTech, a series where you’ll learn the ins and outs of the enigmatic tech terms and acronyms that can be hard to understand. This week, we’re comparing and contrasting two terms: robotics and robotic process automation (RPA).

Make sure to follow our blog for more tech 101 in our #WhatTheTech series, as we have already broken down cloud computing, workflow automation, NLP, and open source.

#WhatTheTech are robotics and RPA?

Robotics is the study of robots — machines designed to replicate human actions and functions. In this context, we’re not talking about the robots you see in sci-fi movies like Star Wars, WALL-E, or Transformers, but rather the ones used in our everyday world.

Examples of these robots include advanced models such as the Mars Rovers used by NASA, as well as simpler models like assembly-line robots and the Roomba vacuum cleaner. Each of these robots is mechanical, contains electrical components that power their machinery, and features computer programming code that tells the robot what to do and how to do it.

RPA, on the other hand, is derived from the computer programming code that enables a robot’s functions. Unlike a robot, RPA does not physically exist as a machine. Instead, it’s used as a software program to enable digital “bots” to mimic human functions on your computer system.

How do businesses use robotics and RPA?

On the surface, the goals for robotics and RPA are the same — the replication and improvement of human actions. But, there is a slight difference in how their functions are applied by businesses as a whole.


Robots are used in multiple industries across the world. One of the most notable examples is in manufacturing, where over 2.4 million industrial robots are deployed globally. More advanced examples include autonomous self-driving vehicles powered by robots and robots that assist surgeons in healthcare.

These kinds of robots are designed by robotics engineers dedicated to their development and maintenance. These engineers focus their careers on creating robots to efficiently replicate simple business functions, allowing human employees to focus on more complex tasks.


Similar to the way robots offload mundane physical human functions, RPA offloads mundane and time-consuming business processes. Many organizations still rely on manual legacy systems that could be easily automated through RPA using programmable bots that perform the same tasks in less time.

Business process areas ripe for RPA include:

  • Operations: RPA can transform a range of operational processes. One of the most notable examples is account maintenance, which if done manually, can cost organizations valuable time and resources. Tasks like setting up new customer accounts, password updates, and customer communication preferences can all benefit from RPA because it reduces time-to-completion. You can use RPA for these tasks by establishing online forms customers fill out on your website, which are then processed by an RPA bot to completion.
  • Payroll processing: Payroll, a repetitive and time-consuming process for accountants, is being replaced by RPA in many organizations. RPA bots can be programmed to scrape information from various company data sources (e.g., time logs, pay rates, deductions, PTO records, etc.) to generate employees’ paychecks. Delegating payroll to RPA bots frees up time for accountants to focus on larger company finance projects and reduces hours spent on manual payroll tasks.
  • Banking: Many credit card companies and banks use RPA to approve credit card line increase requests. Customers visit their online banking profile to fill out a form that asks about employment status, income and the amount they want to increase their credit line. The RPA bot then scrapes the information from the form and verifies it using credit reports and other data sources. Once the process is complete, the bot notifies the customer about the approval status. With RPA, a manual process that can take human employee hours to complete is done within minutes.

What do robotics and RPA have to do with Nintex?

As a global software provider, Nintex’s mission is to improve the way people work with process management and automation. RPA is an integral technology for automating manual and repetitive tasks. It also part of the easy-to-use, powerful, and complete Nintex Process Platform.

Nintex RPA is available in standard and enterprise editions to best suit your organization’s automation requirements. When it comes to operations, RPA helps companies ensure accuracy in their business processes by eliminating the risk of human error. It also enables frontline employees to incorporate automation into their department’s workflow without the need for expert-level knowledge of automation technology. And with many organizations embracing new workplace models, both at home and in the office, automating manual processes with solutions like Nintex RPA allows your employees to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.



Curious how Nintex RPA can automate work with speed and ease? Request a demo today. 



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