Predicting the future is hard. That’s why business leaders plan and prepare their companies, as best they can, to weather the unknown. It’s why you develop and fine-tune your digital strategy. It’s why you automate.

Speed-to-value is a key performance indicator (KPI) for many automation initiatives, and it’s tempting, when setting out on an automation journey, to go for the quick wins. Robotic desktop automation (RDA) is a great example of a quick win.

This kind of attended automation is usually up and running very quickly and is often mistaken for true enterprise robotic process automation (RPA). RDA has inherent vulnerabilities — especially in the areas of agility, security and compliance — and it is not future-proof.

The best way to ensure that the foundation of technology you build today will support and enable your company’s technology-driven goals of tomorrow is to first build a foundation that is sustainable. The RPA platform you choose should be able to facilitate seamless and secure connections between new and legacy technologies, processes and the people who manage them — today and in the future.

The biggest misconception in the marketplace about RPA is that assisted automation tools — i.e., those that require assistance to operate, such as RDA — bring more value to the table because such tools realize that value faster. And, it does take longer to implement and deploy a strategically built digital workforce than it does to record a script — but the digital workforce outlasts the script. Every time.

When changes occur, either to the workflow of your process, to the credentials of the person managing a step in the process, or even to the interface of a third-party site that you use in a process, RDA scripts instantaneously become obsolete. Sure, the processes they’re built from can quickly be recorded again, but when you consider the number of changes that could possibly occur and the number of robots you have working on that process and then factor in the number of tasks those robots were completing each hour, you can see the instability of the infrastructure. It’s not sustainable. At least not autonomously.

Enterprise-grade RPA (autonomous automation) differs from RDA (attended automation) because digital workers are preprogrammed to do the work without human interaction or intervention — even in the face of unexpected variances. They’re able to learn, problem solve and collaborate with the company’s extended systems, processes and people — without sacrificing compliance.

And that’s an important point, because the security vulnerabilities of RDA solutions also make them unsustainable. RDA tools require their robots to work in tandem with human counterparts to share login and system user credentials. And, since it would likely violate corporate policy for two human workers to share login credentials, it’s not prudent for the goal of longevity to take unnecessary security, compliance and fraud risks.

But perhaps the most overlooked key to sustainable automation is the democratization of technology. With the IT skills gap widening, easy-to-use artificial intelligence (AI) is a must-have for any business striving to reach growth goals in this new digitized business landscape.

The ability to implement AI technologies of choice into process workflows belongs in the hands of business leaders, while the role of governing the RPA platform and connected technologies belongs to IT. When leaders across your organization have access to RPA-enabled AI, you can achieve true operational agility and digital transformation.

Before you move forward with an RPA purchase, or if you’ve already hit a sustainability wall and need to regroup, make sure you understand the benefits and limitations of the RPA options available to you.

If you’re looking to automate only one process that has very few variables or exceptions and interacts with only one system that doesn’t update often — enterprise RPA might not be right for you.

And if you have an IT team with substantial amounts of downtime who are available for in-depth coding projects — again, enterprise RPA may not be the best fit for you.

But if your business exists on constantly changing and updating technologies, you have multiple opportunities for automation, and you need business leaders to take the reins and implement successful RPA while your IT team drives value through their already overfilled pipeline — a foundation of enterprise-grade RPA that is intelligent and scalable is the best choice to sustain your company’s growth.