A new batch of ominous warnings about job-killing robots just arrived from the usual suspects, very clever, credentialed, accomplished people mingling at a glamourous watering-hole: in this case, the Milken Institute's Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California.These warnings tend to follow a predictable script: sufficiently urgent to get attention, but fuzzy enough to stop short of alarming.Warnings about the impact of robotics on people s jobs almost always have a temporizing quality: for example, at this conference robots are capable of taking over low-skill document management or Wall Street spreadsheet jockeys specialized jobs, yet aren t at the point of actually eliminating broad job categories.

It is old school, beginning as a one-way transfer of data from computer green screens via the terminal s memory.It s also often an interface of last resort for an old school problem, the challenges organizations face in linking legacy systems with new applications, including lack of legacy documentation, source code and lost skillsets.

This use is what many people are referring to when they speak about swivel-chair automation.

Related Article: Buying In the Cloud: How Cloud Technology is Revolutionizing the Retail IndustryRPA PerceptionBut moving to web-scraping technology still left RPA with two major limitations, both of which reinforced the perception this robotic technology could only play a limited role, with limited scope, in business process automation.Limited Role in Process AutomationWhile web-scraping is highly effective, it customarily takes place at the task level while employees typically operate at both the task and activity level.

The answer would appear to be yes; according to the Everest Group, 78 percent of GICs have either implemented RPA or are actively planning pilots.Related Article: When Tech Meets Pets: How Technology Is Serving Man's Best FriendWhat About AI & Cognitive, etc.

?But what of the exotic technologies so many thought leaders are waiting for: AI, cognitive, machine learning?The answer is that they re important and will broaden RPA s footprint in ways that are hard to fully envision.

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