RPA. An automation solution for the next generation ?

A central hub ?

The key point has often been a unifying framework platform, capable of pulling these discrete data silos (*) information into one metadatabase.

New applications can see the bigger picture and work from a “canonical source of truth” from that centralized lake.

Unfortunately, that can put companies back to square one, whereby the one central app doesn’t prove suitable for all users, who turn to their preferred apps and service… and so, the cycle restarts again. You need a custom full stack developper.

The API (*) answer

It’s much more efficient to leave the end-users their choice of solution (after all, who knows better than the local expert?) and have each system interface with all the others via APIs.

The solution is RPA with AI : Robotic process automation (or RPA) is a form of business process automation technology based on metaphorical software robots (bots) or on artificial intelligence (AI)/digital workers. It is sometimes referred to as software robotics (not to be confused with robot software). That way, the people at the sharp end work the way they want, but can, theoretically, interchange relevant data with other systems.

That’s the theory of RPA solutions (robotic process automation). They aim to circumvent some of the complexities of API interchange, and at least partially automate the exchange of key data – acting as automated, partially intelligent “translators” (or “parsers”) of data.

This theory is born out in practice: most internet traffic is API traffic and has been now for a couple of years. It seems APIs are set to rule the network: internal LANs, and out there in internet-space, too.

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(*) DATA SILOS : An information silo, or a group of such silos, is an insular management system in which one information system or subsystem is incapable of reciprocal operation with others that are, or should be, related. Thus information is not adequately shared but rather remains sequestered within each system or subsystem, figuratively trapped within a container like grain is trapped within a silo: there may be much of it, and it may be stacked quite high and freely available within those limits, but it has no effect outside those limits. Such data silos are proving to be an obstacle for businesses wishing to use data mining to make productive use of their data.

(*) API : An application programming interface (API) is a computing interface which defines interactions between multiple software intermediaries. It defines the kinds of calls or requests that can be made, how to make them, the data formats that should be used, the conventions to follow, etc. It can also provide extension mechanisms so that users can extend existing functionality in various ways and to varying degrees. An API can be entirely custom, specific to a component, or it can be designed based on an industry-standard to ensure interoperability. Through information hiding, APIs enable modular programming, which allows users to use the interface independently of the implementation.

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