Understanding Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation and the Difference Between the Two

On hearing terms like artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, the first thought that strikes most people’s minds is that they mean the same. But the fact is that there are some notable differences between AI software development and RPA system development. Knowing these differences is important for anyone who desires to go for web development services for leveraging these cutting-edge technologies. To understand the differences between these technologies, let’s first understand what they actually mean.

Understanding Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence programming refers to the ability of a machine/computer system to emulate the way humans communicate, sense, solve problems, and draw logical inferences. This capability is developed in machines by employing the relevant training data with the intent to help machines comprehend the environment. Thus, the machines are made intelligent so that they can perform various human-like actions, like making decisions, reasoning, recognizing speech, planning, etc. The purview of AI is vast, encompassing a number of technologies.

Technologies like machine learning, robotic process automation, and natural language processing are all fueled by artificial intelligence. Today, artificial intelligent solutions are registering their presence in practically every industry vertical. Businesses are seeking to adopt AI in innovative ways to experience a ton of benefits.

Understanding Robotic Process Automation

RPA refers to a software robot that is essentially rule-based used for the purpose of automating tasks that are repetitive in nature. This robot mimics the human actions to perform low-level, routine tasks. The most important thing to understand about RPA is that instructions have to be pre-defined for the software robot to work in an autonomous fashion.

It is often used to automate the tasks where human intervention needed is almost negligible or none at all. By letting RPA software robot take care of these tasks, organizations can get the tasks completed while ensuring greater accuracy as well as saving great time, money, and human efforts. RPA can be implemented within any domain of the organization, such as finance and accounting, customer service, or human resources.

Understanding the Main Difference Between AI and RPA

With a clarity on the definitions of the terms AI and RPA, we can now move ahead towards exploring the chief difference between them. This difference lies in the way these two technologies work. While the underlying purpose of these technologies is the same, which is automaton of tasks or processes, the ways in which this purpose is accomplished are different for the technologies.

RPA works on the basis of rules and instructions that are pre-configured or pre-defined for the software. What this means is that an RPA system can execute rule-based processes and it will need inputs in a structured form to keep running as expected. Putting it simply, an RPA system is used for the automation of tasks for which rules are already well-defined and structured inputs are provided. Once these criteria are satisfied, the system will be able to run autonomously and perform the tasks and activities that it is trained to do.

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Because of the process-driven nature of RPA, it proves useful for the automation of rule-based and monotonous processes where interactions need to take place with many different IT related systems. This helps accomplish great extent of simplification in such processes that may otherwise be too time-consuming.

The most important part of achieving process automation with RPA is that the software would have to be programmed clearly for performing each activity within the process, meaning that all possible cases would need to be accounted for when programming the RPA system. Being heavily rule-based, an RPA system does not have much intelligence of its own. It needs a defined set of steps or instructions together with systematic supply of inputs to work as per expectations. Whenever there are any updates in the process being automated, human intervention would be needed to make the requisite updates in the instructions for the RPA system as well.

In contrast, we have artificial intelligence programming which also facilitates automation but it does so with a greater level of intelligence. An AI system is capable of learning and improving itself to generate improved outcomes. It responds to the environment and accordingly rewrites itself. An AI system can work with unstructured inputs.

The AI system is usually a mix of various concepts like machine learning, analysis, reasoning, cognitive automation, etc. It is the intelligent nature of an AI system that enables it to easily handle extensive amounts of unstructured data. The system would keep learning and evolving through experiences of its own to manage the data. That’s the beauty of AI software development. You can have an intelligent software that uses the data, patterns, and trends from the past to learn and improve.


Artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, both can have a significant role to play in automating the critical business processes. While they both are great individually, together they can make even a bigger difference for the business. The combination of these two technologies can boost the scale of automation to a much higher degree benefiting the organization tremendously. So depending on what your business needs are, you can choose to implement artificial intelligence solutions, RPA systems, or maybe even both.