The threat landscape is constantly changing, and now more than ever, technology plays a significant role in helping security teams stay ahead of the curve. With so many new tools emerging on the market every year, it can be challenging to determine what solutions will work best for you or if you even need any at all.
Navigating all of the available options can be especially time-consuming when it comes to automation, from legacy SOAR tools that take a bundled approach to laser-focused, best-of-breed platforms and Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
We previously explored how Tines compares to traditional SOAR tools, so in this blog, we will examine some of the similarities and differences between our no-code automation platform and RPA. While it's not something we're asked about very often by security teams (keep reading to find out why), it's an area of interest to other teams within the enterprise keen to leverage the power of Tines.
Objectively, no-code automation and RPA are trying to achieve similar goals; to allow people to automate repetitive manual tasks. Here are a few other benefits that both tools can deliver at some level:
Eliminate repetitive manual work
Optimize headcount and reduce human error
Increase scalability with workflows running round-the-clock
Relatively quick and cost-effective implementation
Increase impact and ability to prioritize what matters most
Visible productivity gains with the potential to save even more time and money long-term
Now, let's take a look at some of the key differences.
Whether the RPA tool uses programmed or intelligent bots, at a basic level, the way RPA works to achieve the goals above is you install a piece of software called a robot. This robot observes how you're doing your manual work, collecting data along the way, and it then replays your process automatically.
RPA does a great job of automating the exact work that desktop users already do by interacting with the UI on their screens. This means it can plug directly into existing user workflows without an API, and automation occurs on the desktop, making screen recording easy. Business users can develop their own automations without IT projects and slowdowns. As a result, RPA can be really powerful in ultra low-tech applications like a utility grid or on a manufacturing line where a desktop is already driving a range of similar repetitive and routine tasks.
The difficulty with RPA is that computers are famously bad at imitating humans, so even small UI changes can break RPA workflows, aka "the bad bot." Due to process complexity and a reliance on restricted master data sources, projects frequently stall. Shadow IT can also lead to security, master data hygiene, and governance issues, and robots need a desktop instance to run: on metal or in the cloud, making dynamic scaling challenging. To put it even more plainly, RPA is brittle. About 20% of RPA workflows break or fail in some way, shape, or form. That's not a massive problem if it's not a mission-critical workflow, but in fields like security or engineering - you simply can't afford to have things fail 20% of the time. If you miss 20% of cyber-attacks, that will ruin your business.
With Tines, we provide a flexible platform to use and learn because it allows people to build their own workflows by dragging, dropping and connecting a series of Actions together. Tines interfaces with the APIs of target tools. It's much more robust, it's much more scalable, much faster, and can handle a much higher degree of complexity than RPA tools. This means we can agree to SLAs for customers, who in turn can trust our no-code automation platform with their most mission-critical workflows. Another benefit is that select team members can collaborate on building and maintaining their automation workflows, which can be a game-changer.
It's important to remember that RPA tools started to emerge on the market more than 15 years ago when APIs were still in a very immature place. The technology for APIs has advanced so much in the last decade, with new formats and protocols allowing flexible tools like Tines to produce the same outputs as RPA but in a much more robust, scalable, and secure way.
Pros and cons aside, the reality is both tools have their place. While RPA typically fails to meet larger organizational expectations and requirements, it can be a great way to automate simple business tasks on legacy applications. Many organizations have a mix of old and new systems and continue leveraging RPA alongside no-code automation until they're ready to retire older systems.
Interested in learning more about Tines? Our free Community Edition is available here. Manage credentials, authenticate, automate routine and repetitive tasks across the enterprise, supercharge existing tools and seamlessly integrate internal, legacy, and third-party systems to make your technology stack work harder for you.