By: Mala Chowdhury

The Truth About Blockchain In RPA

RPA | Cognitive RPA

Today when we hear so much about the Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and Robotic Process Automation, people fear of job loss due to these technological developments. But this is not true. These technologies will definitely change the nature of employment but at the same time provide new opportunities.

The expansion of Robotic Process Automation will benefit the healthcare, agricultural, tourism and financial sectors alike and will also reduce their operational costs. The new technologies will touch those aspects of the problems in these sectors that still remain untouched so far.So, people should look forward towards the betterment of these sectors.

Before going further we should try to understand exactly what does blockchain and RPA means.

Blockchain in RPA

 
As the name suggests, this technology is based on the connection of blocks forming a chain. Here the data is stored in a block and this block is connected to its previous block. It uses the public ledger technology, which means that information on a blockchain exists as a shared database which is being updated continuously. As soon as a block is added or updated, every other node on the network comes to know. So due to its design, a blockchain is resistant to unauthorized modification of the data. Hence, it is very secure.

Robotic Process Automation

 
Robotic Process Automation which is popularly known as RPA is a technology where the processes are automated using robots. These robots are basically software robots using artificial intelligence. These automate processes which are repetitive in nature and mostly have data entry work.

If you want to know more about RPA in detail then read Our post Fundamentals of ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATION.

Patterns of Technology Adoption

 
blockchain automation
Every invention of a new technology need to be adopted by people and organisation in a large number in order to make it a great success.

Every technology has an adoption life cycle. This life cycle has 4 stages.

  • Research and Development
  • Ascent
  • Maturity
  • Decline

Every new technology after being researched and developed is adopted and used by people and thus sees an upward trend known as the ascent. After some time when it becomes popular, it reaches its maturity stage. Scientists keep on researching new technologies which have better functionalities than the present technology. If they succeed in inventing one, then people tend to use the new technology and replace the old one. Thus the previous technology reaches its decline stage.

This pattern of technology adoption can be best understood with the real-life example of technology. Suppose we take the example of TCP/IP.

TCP/IP is the short form of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. This played an important role in the development of the internet. TCP/IP was first used in 1972 for the electronic communication between the researchers on ARPA net, the US Department of defense before the use of the internet for commercial purposes. This was the Research and Web Development Stage. Before TCP/IP telecommunication networks used Circuit Switching in which the two communicating parties had to send and receiving nodes which helped in communication. But before any communication, a connection between the two parties had to be established and it should not be braked in between. For this, there had to be a dedicated line. This incurred a huge cost for telecom service providers.

TCP/IP came as a cost-effective alternative for many organizations. This protocol used the concept of Packet Switching where the data was divided into small packets and each packet took the shortest route available over the network to reach its destination, thus avoiding any requirement for dedicated communication lines. This technology was welcomed by the organizations and it became popular in localized private networks within organizations. This was its ascent stage.

TCP/IP came into large use by the common people with the invention of the World Wide Web in the mid-1990s. Many new companies came forward with the much-needed hardware, software, and service support to connect to the newly found public network to exchange information. For example – Netscape commercialized its browsers, web servers etc. Sun Microsystems started the development of an application programming language known as Java. Many new companies like Yahoo, Infoseek, Altavista were started with the purpose of providing different services to the web servers. Once this infrastructure became popular among the general public, the companies started taking advantage of the cost-effective connectivity and created new services for the internet users like Amazon offered books, Expedia provided booking for flight tickets and CNET provided news online. Companies earned huge profits due to its extensive reach to the customers at a very low cost and thus TCP/IP became more and more popular. This was TCP/IP’s maturity stage.

Next came an architecture is known as a peer – to – peer where users coordinated with others using distributed networks. With its popularity, TCP/IP will probably reach its decline stage. Nowadays the majority of the most successful companies of the world have internet – driven, platform-based business models.

Hence, we can always see a particular pattern in the adoption of any new technology.

The New Architecture

 
Blockchain was invented in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto. But surprisingly no one knows whether it is the name of a single person or a group of people. The architecture of blockchain is based on peer – to- peer network. The computer on this network is connected to one another and not to a central server. Hence each data is shared with every other computer on the network instead of being stored in a central database.

As soon as a transaction occurs, it is updated on all the nodes of that network. If it is validated by other members of the network, then only the change in the blockchain occurs. Transactions which are done and sent to other nodes on the network are in the form of a block and are independently verified and processed by each node. Thus eliminating the possibility of modifying the blockchain without the knowledge of other members on the network.

Blockchain can also reduce the cost of transactions dramatically as it does not require a third party banker or a verifier for every transaction.

A Framework for Blockchain Adoption

robotics and blockchain

With such hype about the blockchain, I am quite skeptical of the real success of this technology. Although it is quite early to comment on it I am sure we are very far from successfully adopting this technology called Blockchain. It will take years to get popular.

There are two major factors which determine the adoption of any technology. These are –

1. Innovativeness:
This means that how original the technology is for the users. The newer the technology is, the more effort is needed to convince people that this technology will help them in solving their problems.

2. Complexity:
The less complex the technology is, the more people are interested in adopting the new technology because they find it easy to use. This means that the technology has to be user-friendly to be acceptable among users.

We all know that for any technology to be successful, it is necessary that it is very popular among the masses. For example – Can you imagine Facebook being so successful had it been used by only a few people? Of course not. Facebook is successful because it is being used by millions and millions of people across the globe. Similarly, blockchain can be successful if and only if it is being used by more and more people.

The framework for Blockchain adoption can be understood by the different categories of technology development.

These categories are –

1. Single Use
Here the applications create, good, cheap and better-focussed solutions like the email. Bitcoin also falls under this category.

2. Localization
Here the applications are new but they need only a few users to show immediate value. Hence their adoption is easy to promote. If blockchain technology follows the path of local private networks then it can be used by multiple organizations to get connected through a distributed ledger. For e.g:- Nasdaq uses chain.com to offer applications to process and validate financial transactions.

3. Substitutions
Here the application aims to change the ways of doing business by replacing the existing applications. These applications face high resentment from its users to adopt these new applications. For e.g:- Cryptocurrency. Both government and the organizations are not very sure of adopting it.

4. Transformation
These applications are completely new applications but if successfully adopted have the capability to change the nature of the economic, social and political system. For e.g:- Smart Contracts. These contracts automate payments as soon as the pre-decided or mutually negotiated conditions are met. But all these things are decades away from complete adoption because there are many aspects of the technology that has to be deeply thought of and discussed properly like security.

Guiding your approach to Blockchain Investment

An important question arises at this point. Whether individuals and organizations should invest in Blockchain?

Since blockchain products and applications are not fully developed and we are not able to see the real outcome of these products on a large scale, we should tread slowly and safely on this path.

We should start with small investment projects. These can be single-use applications. Experience with these applications minimizes risk since it involves very less amount of coordination with third parties. Once the organization is able to work on these applications and have developed the skills, they can move on to more advanced products.

People can do their experimentations using the cloud-based blockchain services from organizations like Amazon and Microsoft. Even if organizations are not willing to invest huge amounts in the blockchain, they should at least make themselves ready for blockchain by training their staffs about blockchain and developing the infrastructure for it.

For investors who want to invest in the blockchain, they should invest in such projects which already have some product or at least a working prototype for experimentation.

CHATBOTS AND THE ELECTIONS

chatbot and RPA

Let’s first understand what a chatbot is.

Chatbot can be understood as software robots chatting with people over the internet or more specifically chatbots work as virtual assistance by helping us find information or remember things we tend to forget. For example Alexa from Amazon, Cortana from Microsoft or Google Assistance from Google. They use artificial intelligence in order to understand what we want.

I am sure you must have come across a chatbot while browsing the internet, in the form of a messaging app. It helps companies to provide online customer support 24×7 by giving quick responses and resolve complains fast. These chatbots follow some pre-programmed rules while interacting with users.

According to a survey, 63% people message an online chatbot to communicate with a business in order to get a quick answer to their questions. You might be surprised to know that there are more than 30,000 chatbots on Facebook which are being used by people across 200 countries. Most chatbots start their conversation with a “Hi” or “Need Help”.

According to Ray Kurzweil, an engineer at Google, predicts that chatbot will not be distinguishable from humans by 2029. That just exactly 10 years from.

This new technology called chatbots is being used in every industry. You will be most surprised to know that chatbots are being used in politics. Yes, you read it right, POLITICS!

We always knew that political campaigns were organized and executed manually. This involved a lot of time and manpower. But nowadays politicians are using Chatbots powered by Artificial Intelligence to engage their voters by making chatbots answer their questions and gather data from them. This data is then analyzed by the people at the office of the politician to see that how he can improve further.

This also saves time because the politicians can be busy delivering their speeches in campaigns while at the same time the chatbot can answer the questions asked to them by people through internet or SMS.

ENGAGING CONVERSATION

We have seen politicians like Donald Trump, Kim Jong- Un or Narendra Modi tweeting quite often. They seem to be very active on social media. Have you ever thought that how come they get so much free time in spite of having such a busy schedule?

Actually, it is their personal chatbots that are tweeting on their behalf. By using machine learning algorithms and Natural Language Processing, chatbots can communicate just like humans and you will feel as if your politicians have twitted to you.

Before elections chatbots send SMS to the voters telling them about the achievements of a particular political party and briefing them about any new development during the elections. For example- Hello Vote and Wonk. These chatbots keep the voters updated with the latest political news.

This way these chatbots are changing the political scenario as well as elections, now the voters are being kept engaged by these chatbots through regular conversation and sending useful information to the people.

CONCLUSION

Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Application, and chatbots are getting smarter and more sophisticated day by day. It is going to bring a huge change in each and every business. In order to benefit from this, we have to keep ourselves prepared for it.

I definitely expect people to keep themselves ready for the upcoming technological revolution by training themselves in Blockchain and Robotic Process Automation to keep themselves ahead of others.

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