Already in the history of computing
Since 2001, we have seen interactions, interfaces and programs assistants that assist an operator by the autonomous realization of sequences of predefined tasks performed for the benefit of one or multiple host software.
These application assistants, are only intended to provide additional or new functions to the host software. However, it operates independently of it, with the assistant having an autonomous runtime. In doing so, an assistant integrates in the over-layer application, which differentiates itself from a subroutine subordinated to a business application.
As a major characteristic, assistants are non-structural and non-invasive to the host software. It remains fully integrated, whatever its nature and its version.
An application assistant is especially powerful and remarkable in the execution of complex, slow, not performed often, unfamiliar, redundant, irritant, risk or without added value tasks for the operator.
Over the last few years, we have seen the emergence of pure robotic solutions. These robots are related to assistants but are able to perform autonomously and unattended.
A magical word
Assistants and Robots are increasingly referred to as belonging to the “Robotic Process Automation” concept (RPA). They are application of software and algorithms that perform routine operations previously performed by humans.
We can almost relate Assistants and robots to plug-ins that act on a software to give to it new features or capabilities. They add capacity without having to reprogram all the technological environment. Like a plug-in, assistants allow users to add their own custom features in an independent way. However, plug-ins are not autonomous where assistants and robots are, because they have their own engine or runtime.
Assistants and robots are the preferred tool of “tailor-made” computing.
Assistants and robots differ conceptually from a conventional software extension, such as a macro, because a macro presents a series of written orders and is compressed into a single file with a list of commands directly included and subject to the host main program.