n8n is a free and open workflow automation tool. It allows you to automate tasks by linking disparate services and APIs together in a workflow process. You can set up complicated tasks with a certain trigger and a series of actions that follow, making life a lot simpler and reducing manual efforts.
One key aspect of n8n, that sets it apart, is its self-hosted nature. Unlike other services that handle your data on their servers, n8n runs on your own server. This ensures an added layer of security as you know exactly where your critical data resides. Moreover, with n8n, you get access to a wide host of pre-built nodes to connect services like Slack, Trello, Google Drive, and more.
On the other hand, RPA, short for Robotic Process Automation, is a technology that enables businesses to automate repetitive business processes. This technology deploys software bots to perform tedious manual tasks at a faster pace and reduces the chances of human errors.
RPA bots interact with systems just as humans would. They can log into applications, enter data, calculate and complete tasks, and then log out. Its use cases span across a wide range of industries- from healthcare to finance, and it usually thrives in environments with rule-based and repetitive tasks.
Both n8n and RPA are designed to automate processes, but their scope and implementation are quite different. RPA typically deals with automation of repetitive tasks within a business workflow and is most suited where large quantities of repetitive data entry is required. On the other hand, n8n, as a workflow automation tool, tends to unite different APIs and services for orchestration and automation of workflows.
Furthermore, n8n focuses on data movement between systems via APIs, while RPA goes a step further to mimic human activity in a given system, hence providing more interaction with the user interface of the application. To say it simply, n8n connects systems, RPA operators within systems, mimicking human operation.
To sum up, while both n8n and RPA hold immense value in the realm of automation, they aren't identical. n8n is more about workflow automation integrating various APIs, while RPA mimics human-user activity, essentially being a robotic workforce. Therefore, despite the similarities, n8n is not an RPA.