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Robotic Process Automation and Application Programming Interface: A Match Made in Heaven or Not?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a surface level automation software which can be used for applications to talk to each other. Application Programming Interface (API) on the other hand is a standardized layer of software integration code which allows applications to talk to each other. Many of our clients have asked the question about RPA vs. API and whether RPA can actually be used as an integration technology.

One way to think of it is as “plumbing” software. APIs are expensive and time-consuming to develop but they neatly run under the ground and require advanced planning to manage using API management software. RPA on the other hand runs above the ground where changes can be made quickly, however, the RPA approach to integration has its pros and cons. The table below summarizes the comparison.

RPA Integration API Integration
Implementation Complexity Low High
Solution Scalability Low High
Time to Market Low High
Cost Low High
Learning Curve Low High
Maintenance High Medium

 

 

 

As you can see from the above, although RPA based integration is quicker and cheaper to implement, it’s not scalable for a high-speed transaction environment. In addition, RPA based integrations may also have higher maintenance requirements as the software requirements change to keep up with the business. Although the API based integrations also require maintenance, modern API Management Software makes the process simpler, albeit at higher costs. There are however many use cases where versatility of the RPA based solutions can be of significant value.

APIs Which Encapsulate RPA Bots

There are situations where many Enterprise Product Vendors do not provide robust APIs or out of the box integrations; many of these vendors charge a significant amount to do these integrations. Accelirate has constructed many solutions where we utilized RPA to do the integration and then we encapsulated the RPA Bots with REST API using SOA communication framework. This solution offered significant cost savings for the client as well as provided them with a huge time-to-market advantage. The solution also allowed them to change the RPA based architecture underneath the REST API layer if they decided to invest in fully API based integrations in the future.