Ever since the first mainframes were installed, automation has been a hot topic in the business world and a source of fascination in the public imagination. The focus has shifted over the decades, from automation of tasks, to data center operations, to entire processes.
In 2011, robotic process automation (RPA) officially claimed front and center of the business stage and quickly became a dominant topic for industry observers and participants alike. Across Twitter, blogs and other social media, the RPA story caught fire, and an array of automation experts appeared overnight, ready to help companies reap the benefits of this “newly discovered” technology.
The idea was compelling: non-programmers able to hard-code business rules into software that could be triggered by particular events to execute a computer-based process previously performed by a human. But as has often been the case in automation’s rich history, opinion was divided. While some in IT dubbed it as just “macros on steroids,” others foresaw the end of the workforce, and civilization, as we know it.