Robots are once again changing the workforce landscape, but this time they aren’t limited to the mechanical variety found on an automobile assembly line. The new buzzword in outsourcing is “software robots,” which are software products that are increasingly used to perform a variety of repetitive tasks traditionally executed by humans. These next-generation robots automate business processes, and they are fast, accurate, and highly scalable at a known cost.

Two vendors of software automation products and services, IPsoft and Blue Prism, have been getting a lot of press coverage lately. IPsoft’s IPcenter software identifies, diagnoses, and responds to (and learns from) problems and incidents in information technology infrastructures, all without human participation. The IPsoft Amelia virtual service desk software responds to emails and answers and responds to phone calls. Blue Prism, meanwhile, provides a software development tool kit and methodology that enables companies to create their own software robots to automate business processes.

In the next installment of this series, we will delve into the business drivers and potential benefits of software robots that encourage adoption of the new technology.