Robotic Process Automation – Trends and Predictions

The world’s fixation with AI and all things automated has seen many enterprises launch into the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) market. With large organisations seeing the benefit of faster processing of data and the reduction in time spent by employees on repetitive tasks, there are huge upsides for organisations to become more efficient. It is no wonder, therefore, that Gartner reports RPA as being the fastest growing technology area in 2019. $1.7bn was spent in 2019 globally on RPA software and a healthy $5.8bn on RPA services. The rate of growth projected by analysts over the next three years will see those numbers grow to $12bn and $4.2bn respectively (Forrester).

What does this tell us?

The appetite is there in the enterprise market for the adoption of RPA software. With obvious opportunities across the support functions of a business to reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks. Organisations with large transactional operations that adopt this technology will be able to focus on upskilling a premium digital workforce to support the drive for competitive advantage. In a world where the cost of doing business is likely to increase; cost efficiencies and digital transformation will be key. Given that the task list that can be automated is great and the time and cost savings justify the investment – adoption is still relatively immature. According to Deloitte’s most recent RPA findings, only 3% of leaders have achieved any form of scale with more than 50 robots in service across their business.

The projected growth rate of services Vs software sales globally, tells us that the desire to adopt automation and start on the journey of implementation is high amongst many business leaders. It is also clear that there is a need for support – organisations need to identify the right service partners to help with their process assessments and ultimately implement robots with velocity. As well as service providers, it is for global system integrators to help organisations scale their use of robots. Again, according to Forrester, “Some 50% of companies—and these are companies that have some maturity in RPA, not the newbies—have fewer than 10 bots,” Utilisation rates are going to be important for many leaders to ensure that the early adoption of RPA is embedded into the business and further exploited across more and more processes.

So what are the key challenges that need to be addressed?

With the lack of utilisation (remember, only 3% of organisations have achieved more than 50 robots in service) process identification is the number one challenge. With the alure of efficiency, many senior leaders are attracted to the idea of RPA – the outcomes are clear. The challenge is discovering which processes are going to be viable – essentially the vetting process to identify which processes will achieve the greatest levels of utilisation becomes the biggest challenge. This challenge is what drives the service to licence ratio we see in global spend – with every $1 spent on software $3.41 is spent on services. Organisations need help in applying the right lens to start their RPA projects. In fact, many who have begun the journey did so as an internal case study or an experiment. A broader perspective with a desire to achieve more than cost reduction will open up far more processes to be considered as contenders for RPA.

The workforce and working environment have been challenged through 2020. Digital transformation has moved rapidly, driven greatly by the recent pandemic. As organisations, globally, looked at their digital capabilities this has also accelerated the adoption of RPA. RPA has started to evolve from a transactional focus on cost takeout to a broader automation mandate. The true champions for RPA will be those who are close enough to the process to ensure a successful implementation. If you have a strong team of business analysts or people in functions like HR and finance working with the process, they can help implement RPA more easily.

Another challenge is the simple one of ownership. Ownership of the implementation and the ongoing management of the RPAs that have been created. This is due to the ownership of the process and the technology being owned by different functional teams (the business unit and the tech team). This challenge is as apparent for the services companies and SI market as it is for the end user and is a potential driver for the lack of utilisation amongst those who have adopted the technology.

In conclusion, the future for RPA as a sector looks bright. The projected growth in global sales is robust – the long term success of RPA will sit in the utlisation and the breadth of adoption in the enterprises who implement it. We are likely to see new teams formed in consultancies and their end clients to take ownership of the RPA as an enterprise platform. Good automation governance will require ensuring that the impact on security, data privacy and people has been managed and documented.

At Vivo Talent through our high tech engagement strategies, specialist knowledge and innovative products we help a number of end clients and consultancies build their RPA strategies and teams.  If you are embarking on implementing RPA or growing out your team; we can bring the best Talent to your team and help you take advantage of this exciting technology.  Please get in contact to discuss further: rich@vivotalent.com