Frequently Asked Questions Around SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation
What is RPA technology?
Robotic process automation (RPA), sometimes called a software robot or bot - but much better called Digital Assistant to avoid any negative connotation associated with the term robot -refers to software that can be configured to do basic tasks across multiple applications, just as human workers do. The robot can be built e.g. to click through a workflow with multiple steps and applications, such as filing a form, uploading data or updating a spreadsheet. RPA software is designed to reduce the burden of repetitive, simple tasks on employees. Its flexible automation capabilities provide business agility, efficiency, and frees resources for higher value activities. It evolved from key technologies: workflow automation and artificial intelligence. The intelligence of RPA allows everyone from citizen developers to expert developers to work with every technology in every company, LoBs and industries. If you want to learn more about RPA, watch the videos on openSAP: SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation in a Nutshell.
What is SAP's vision for RPA?
Introducing SAP Intelligent RPA was a logical next step for SAP on its way to expand its machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities and drive customers to become the "Intelligent Enterprise”. RPA has been a hype topic over years and has begun to reach a level of maturity now. However, current scenarios are underserving RPA's potential. To date, users are challenged with RPA’s low stability, scalability, and increased complexity that comes along with cost intensive bot maintenance. Therefore, they are looking for an integrated offering which serves as a futureproof, cognitive RPA. Additionally, the low-code/no-code approach has proven to be more than a trend. It forces us to create a simple-to-use developer environment to enable business users, citizen developers and expert developers to create bots easily. Currently, customers are adopting RPA rapidly to drive cross-app integration and automation, and therefore, the market is growing fast. RPA Experts share their thoughts on the future of Robotic Process Automation in the Blog. Check also the official product road map.
What is SAP Intelligent RPA's business value for SAP’s customer?
SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation provides traditional RPA capabilities paired with tight process integration capabilities to accelerate digital transformation and automate repetitive tasks in business processes. It enables expert developers, citizen developers and business process experts to build bots that augment human tasks across LoBs and Industries to:
- Radically enhance efficiency by focusing people on added-value tasks
- Generate savings by cutting process execution time o Increase service quality to reduce cycle times for revenue generating transactions
- Increase compliance and analysis capabilities (through e.g. well-documented audit trails)
- Improve operations to mobilize resources for high-value tasks at lower costs
- Enhance user satisfaction by removing time-consuming, tedious tasks from the process
- Reduce human error and gain speed and efficiency
- Allow parallelization and immediate scalability
- Introduce new technology without any footprint on the legacy
- Provide agility and resilience to support strategic initiatives e.g. moving to SAP S/4HANA
What are SAP Intelligent RPA's competitive differentiators?
One integrated offering for end-to-end automation
As SAP we would like to continue with our pedigree of delivering highly integrated solutions. In the RPA field, it gets more relevant than ever as customers want to automate and easily maintain their landscapes full of different tools, third party applications, heterogenous UIs etc. We would like to play on our strengths here and male bots robust, standardize more and more with solid APIs in the background, lifecycle-manage all the content not letting the automation stack become a "tool forest". With SAP Intelligent RPA, you have one full solution providing designtime, configuration/orchestration module and runtime to build and execute bots in attended and unattended mode.
Stay relevant with future-proof core
With SAP Intelligent RPA, we invite customers to get on board on our SAP S/4HANA-based core with an ability to flexibly automate in cloud / on-premise / hybrid environments while keeping their options open for adapting new innovations. In this exciting space of AI and automation, it is a great opportunity to stay on the latest platform and gear up for a sustainable future consuming innovations and not getting trapped in legacy systems, dated UIs etc.
Apart from the strategic relevance and an assured future relevance, SAP Intelligent RPA shall empower customers to leverage all those benefits an RPA solution would provide by forming a robust digital workforce across systems & deployments. Customers can gain speed, compliance, efficiency, and do more with their existing resources by focusing on high value activities. SAP provides bot templates for SAP S/4HANA and ECC as cross-LoB best practices pre-packaged content available on SAP Intelligent RPA Bot Store. The packages can be deployed directly from the Cloud Factory and can be adapted using the Cloud Studio. Together with the free trial as part of the SAP BTP trial, this serves a growing partner ecosystem to rapidly get started and become effective.
SAP Intelligent RPA 2.0 provides an easy-to-use design studio running in the cloud, connected with the Cloud Factory component for orchestration, configuration and monitoring, connected to the bot store, that enables citizen developers and business process experts as well as expert developers to easily and quickly build bots. This low-code experience - and for simple use cases even a no-code experience - paired with a detailed user documentation and an active developer community, offers an intuitive user and developer experience.
Benefit from SAP AI Portfolio
B the first version of a cloud-based solution, SAP immediately enables partners and customers to build Digital Assistants which can immediately leverage the entire ML portfolio. There are use cases and demo scenarios with integration of SAP Conversational AI, SAP Workflow Management and much more to come.
Allow direct use with SAP application at no additional costs
SAP Intelligent RPA will not require a Indirect Use license when connecting with SAP application portfolio, but our customers, if they want to use other RPA tools, will be required to purchase SAP Indirect Use licenses.
What is SAP Intelligent RPA 2.0?
SAP Intelligent RPA 2.0 is the latest version of SAP Intelligent RPA with a new cloud-based design studio to build bots. The new Cloud Studio offers a low-code experience, even enabling several use cases to be built with no-code. SAP Intelligent RPA 2.0 is launched at SAP TechEd 2020. This updated product version is targeted not only at expert developers, but also at citizen developers and business process experts. It offers them simple-to-use bot building capabilities and follows the low-code/no-code approach, creating a path to hyperautomation. You can read all about SAP Intelligent RPA 2.0 in this blog series.
What is Hyperautomation?
EVERYWHERE: we find automation in every company, every line of business, every industry.
It is also for EVERYTHING: every technologies are candidates to be automated. And, of course, for EVERYONE: Business Analysts, Citizen developers, or bots expert developers. Everyone will be able to build their own bots.
To make it real, we need convergence of tools, and an easy way to do it:
- Discovering existing repetitive tasks, based on logs, or same screens use, repetitive clicks (e.g. Alt+Tab Keys)
- Performing and supervising end-to end processes, with Business Management Softwares
- Using services to enhance the approach, such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Chatbots, and of course, Robotic Process Automation, to run the whole system.
To do so, low-code/no-code is here to help: involving all stakeholders to create the best of breed and complete automations, in a minimum of time.
What is the Low-Code/No-Code concept?
Low-Code / No-Code is now a must-have to build bots. It simply means that to build a bot, you don't need to start from scratch every single time. Reusing existing code was already possible before, or drag&droping activities in the designer. Now, these possibilities are enhanced, with even more activities. It is still possible to load pre-built bots, and record part of your activity. But now you can create small scripts and save them. Thus, they will be reusable, for your bot, your next bots, or reusable for colleagues, just as activities.
Here's the concept of simple to develop, and ready to use elements, that can be shared, within IT landscape: Citizen developers, functional experts have some ideas and are able to build a feature, a set of tasks, and save it. After that, this script will be part of the whole system.
Technical experts are not left behind thought. The studio 2.0 is still the perfect technical environment. They can work in teams, to build more complex features, scripts, even bots, including connections, using APIs, involving several tricky applications. You'll be able to create your own library, containing your sets of tasks and ready to use automations.
What are differences in functionalities between versions 1.0 and 2.0 of SAP Intelligent RPA?
The major evolution from 1.0 to 2.0 is the new Cloud studio which enables citizen developers and expert developers to speed up bot building to a new level. The Cloud Studio provides a complete cloud design experience without the need to go from desktop tool to other tools. All captures, workflows, tests and delivery, are integrated now in the cloud. And possibilities of co-working between developers themselves and citizen developers, by sharing automations, captures and other artifacts. The new SDKs provide activities for every function for full graphical bot building. SDKs are available for core functionalities including SAP GUI connector, for UI5, Outlook, Excel, Word, and PDF. You can find additional information in our SAP community calls.
What are the key components of the solution?
These are the components of SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation:
a) Desktop Studio /Cloud Studio: to design the bot workflows, training the robots for the processes that they need to execute, to define interdependencies, conditions for the workflow, landscape integration / target system definitions etc. Learn more about the Desktop Studio here. Learn more about the Cloud Studio here. As of SAP Intelligent RPA 2.0, Cloud Studio enables simple bot building directly in the Cloud. Desktop Studio as an on-premise component further exists for legacy projects.
b) Cloud Factory: to orchestrate, manage and define triggers and execution modes, and monitor software bots, including direct access to the Bot Store for deployment of pre-built bots. Learn more about the Cloud Factory here.
c) Desktop Agent: an execution engine to run on user desktop or servers and execute the defined process. Learn more here. If you want to learn more about how SAP Intelligent RPA works, check out our YouTube channel with different playlists of demos and product videos.
What is the difference between attended and unattended RPA, and what does SAP Intelligent RPA offer here?
Attended bots, also referred to as digital assistants, are built to automate processes that still require interaction with the user (validation, specific actions that the bot can't do). They are deployed on the user's workstation and are typically launched by the users themselves.
Unattended bots, also referred to as digital workers, automate processes without any human intervention. They are deployed on the server and are typically scheduled or started by a configured trigger mechanism.
With SAP Intelligent RPA, you can build both attended and unattended scenarios. For unattended scenarios, the solution offers a set of triggering functionalities. When building attended scenarios, you can enhance the user experience by enriching the user interface. When the robot is helping you to complete your tasks, it can also communicate information through e.g. new buttons, progress bars, or banners.
How to accelerate bot building with existing ready-to-use bots?
In the SAP Intelligent RPA Store - aka Bot Store - in which prebuilt bots are available for downloading, in different industries or LoBs. This prebuilt content can help developers to quickly build simple bots or combine 2 or more bots to build a new functionally rich one.
How to handle triggering and scheduling?
SAP Intelligent RPA provides triggering and scheduling functionality as part of the Cloud Factory component. See more details here.
Can you run Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning features/services as part of RPA? How are AI and ML connected to Intelligent RPA?
SAP Intelligent RPA is part of the Business Technology Platform (BTP). SAP BTP is also providing AI Business Services to handle unstructured data during the execution of a bot. The services can be integrated into SAP Intelligent RPA via APIs. Of course SAP Intelligent RPA is open to integrate with non-SAP services as long as they publish external APIs.
Which programming language is used with the tool?
Is there compatibility with Chatbots?
SAP Intelligent RPA and SAP Conversational AI can definitely be interconnected to provide great automations. SAP Conversational AI is a technology which is also accessible from SAP Business Technology Platform. Users can rely on an external Chatbot technology (WS/API calls) or use the integrated SAP technology. Check our dedicated webinars on our SAP community subpage.
What operating system versions are supported by SAP Intelligent RPA?
Currently, Windows operating system is supported. Additional requirements such as browser version, system hardware, and software, can be found here.
Can we extend the validity of trial RPA service subscription ?
RPA trial account allows you to put your hands on the product and try out all its different components - Agent, Studio, Factory. The Trial landscape is dedicated to have a good taste on the product but cannot be used for productive usage, that's why it contains usage quotas. Currently users are fallowed to run up to 100 active (ready and running) jobs at the same time. Initially trial accounts can be used for 30 days. After that, users can extend the trial period to maximum 12 months. Read information about SAP BTP Trial Accounts and Available Quotas.