The modern world is built on data and fueled by connectivity. User interfaces (UI) are widely used to input data, and application programming interfaces (APIs) are used to communicate data between functions. Not all applications have APIs, however, which means many legacy systems are unable to integrate with modern workflows. Robotic process automation (RPA) is often the answer — with clicks, keystrokes, and commands analyzed and repeated to automate data flows and ensure communication between diverse systems.
What is RPA?
RPA is an emerging force in the field of business process automation (BPA). Digital transformation endeavours are increasingly based on automation, with BPA helping to streamline business activities, improve service quality, and reduce business expenses. Within the context of BPA, analysts and programmers use APIs and scripting languages to automate specific tasks based on known and established actions.
In contrast, RPA services develop new and dynamic action lists by watching how a human user interacts with software applications. This process involves an additional step to BPA, but it can also produce more accurate results. The list created is based on real-world input, which can lead to more efficient workflows and a much lower barrier to entry.
From the factory floor to the desktop
In warehouses and manufacturing facilities, robots have been used for decades. They help to improve productivity, reduce errors, and free up human workers for higher-level tasks. The increased adoption of RPA in offices is based on the exact same benefits. While they might not have large operating arms and complex physical controls, software robots can be configured to trigger responses, manipulate data, and communicate with other digital systems.
What is Power Automate RPA?
Power Automate is a popular cloud-based automation platform operated by Microsoft. As part of the Microsoft Power Platform, it functions alongside products such as Power Apps and Power BI. This Microsoft RPA is used to automate user interfaces and unlock analog data with artificial intelligence (AI). With built-in connectivity options, it also helps to automate cloud applications and databases. Indeed, Power Automate Cloud Flow has 750+ Microsoft first-party and third-party connectors/APIs which lets you connect with data, and in case if your third-party application doesn’t have an API or connector built, then Power Automate Desktop (RPA) comes to the rescue and lets you work with that data using UI flows.
Unlike many APIs, Power Automate RPA is a low-code development environment, which makes it much more accessible. It allows businesses to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks through attended or unattended automation, which means with or without human interaction:
- Attended automation mimics the desktop and browser actions of a human user. It automates repetitive activities by recording and playing back actions in real time.
- Unattended automation doesn’t need human input, with bots doing all the work. Software processes record and play back actions based on triggers and scheduled events.
Introducing UI flows
Individual RPA functions in Power Automate extension are called UI flows. These functions allow users to use the browser as a conduit for the desktop. With preconstructed connectors for over 275 applications and services and both API and UI-based automation available, Power Automate is designed to function as an end-to-end automation platform.
To start making UI flows, you just have to follow these three steps:
- Ensure you have the required prerequisites
- Download the Chrome or Edge extensions
- Download and install Power Automate recorder
The value of Power Automate
Power Automate RPA is a modern automation solution capable of handling diverse workloads across multiple industry sectors. This powerful tool delivers value to the following users:
For citizen developers
Citizen development encourages non-IT-trained employees to become software developers. This term refers to a business process rather than a targeted role. Power Automate uses accessible Excel-like formulas and point-and-click options to build workflows and add functionality. This is ideal for citizen developers, who can design logic easily and connect with existing services.
For IT professionals
Power Automate is accessible to citizen developers, but it’s also powerful enough for IT professionals. Technology teams can use automation to apply integrated or personalized data loss prevention policies. Along with protecting sensitive data, Power Automate can be used to leverage current data by linking to on-site and cloud-based infrastructure.
For software developers
Automation enables faster and more robust software development. The Azure functions within Power Automate can be used to implement custom server-side logic, which is a powerful way to integrate decision-making into your workflows. For example, you can limit actions to specific situations based on matched requirements.
For everyday business users
Above all else, Power Automate is a great way to empower everyday business users. With less wasted time on repeated manual processes and more time for high-level tasks, you can help your team to become more competitive. Power Automate tools offer effective automation techniques within the context of specific business processes, with everything streamlined and designed to improve over time.
The many benefits of Microsoft RPA
Modern businesses often rely on legacy systems, including on-premises software. Instead of switching applications or building and integrating complex API automation, RPA is a cost-effective and easy-to-implement solution.
RPA offers the following business benefits:
Massive cost savings
Power Automate is much less expensive than other RPA platforms, and it’s included for free in various Microsoft 365 plans. You can access Power Automate in the Business Premium & Essentials, F1, and E1–E5 Enterprise plans. Automated workflows help you save time and improve efficiency, and they also allow you to recoup the opportunity costs associated with higher-level activities.
Integrates with existing architecture
Power Automate works with many existing systems, including those that don’t support API-based automation. It’s the perfect choice for businesses already using Azure servers, Microsoft 365, and SharePoint; and it can be extended with Azure Cognitive and Microsoft’s AI and machine learning services. Because you can exchange data with legacy software, the barrier to entry is very low from the outset.
Optimal built-in security
Like all technology tools, RPA does pose certain security risks. When bots are used to handle sensitive data and move records between systems, extra security controls are required. Built by Microsoft and powered by Azure, Power Automate RPA has access to advanced security services, mature network infrastructure, and Azure directory integration.
Attended and unattended operation
Power Automate allows you to automate manual tasks and software processes. This powerful Microsoft RPA tool can be used to integrate human-driven interaction with software systems while also enabling triggered and scheduled interaction with software systems. Because it works with or without human interaction, the implementation possibilities are much wider.
Kick-start your automation journey
Microsoft Power Automate is a great way to kick-start your automation journey. It integrates with popular software systems and comes with over 275 prebuilt connectors. You can use it alongside enterprise applications like Salesforce and Workday and easily connect to cloud and on-premises data through more than 10 gateway connection types.
If you’re ready to embrace the future of automation, Softlanding is here to help. As a trusted Microsoft partner, we provide a wide array of professional and managed IT services, including leading solutions from Azure, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Power Platform. Please contact our team to learn more.