Process automation plays a critical role in today’s digital transformation technology stack. The rapid adoption and implementation of RPA (robotic process automation) is evident. According to Gartner, the RPA market will grow at double digit rates through 2024 despite economic pressures from the pandemic. This bodes well for RPA consultants.
Some of the key factors that drive adoption of RPA solutions is its ability to improve process quality, speed, and productivity. Further, COVID-19 and its aftermath have increased the interest in RPA across many verticals. In fact, future RPA clients may come from non-IT buyers as predicted by many analysts. If you are an organization interested in process automation and what RPA trends will dominate in 2022, here are some key RPA Trends to watch out for.
1. Intelligent automation
Intelligent Automation (IA) combines RPA and artificial intelligence to empower end-to-end processes and accelerate digital initiatives. Enterprises that augment RPA with AI expand the possibilities of business process automation to cover almost any scenario. Cognitive bots learn continuously from data and make decisions, becoming valuable members of your hybrid workforce. Take, for instance, Arteris, a Brazil-based Highway Management firm that built a shared services center based on intelligent automation and analytics. This helped the company achieve greater economies of scale, with a workforce reduction of up to 50 percent and faster month-end closing.
2. RPA CoE
RPA Centre of Excellence is a central group that is responsible for implementing RPA an organization. The RPA CoE may comprise IT experts, RPA consultants, process managers, functional experts representing various teams. The role of this CoE is to establish a governance model, best practices and expertise to optimize the return on investment. Establishing an RPA CoE has multiple benefits like improving the efficiency of the bot development cycle and integrating RPA with IT. It also provides RPA training, service and support.
3. Semantic automation
Semantic automation charts a different course from a rules-based approach where robots learn simply by observing an activity or task and emulate it without detailed instructions. Using semantic automation, bots can understand processes, the data that is required and move the pieces required to complete the workflow. Developers or business users will simply have to ask robots to perform a task or workflow. It is all set to revolutionize RPA solutions to make developers efficient and business scalable.
4. RPA will fuel extreme innovation
Some of the early adopters of RPA and companies with a sophisticated automation program will wipe out the competition. However, to attain this state, enterprises must create a framework to design, execute and govern a hybrid workforce. In fact, Forrester predicts that five percent of the Fortune 500 will adopt this level of automation to fuel extreme innovation.
5. Low code platforms
Citizen developers are users that create new business applications by using development and runtime environments approved by IT. They are increasingly ‘automating’ and enabling businesses to automate at scale. For them to thrive, there is a need for a breed of no-code SaaS platforms that help in creating useful RPA solutions faster. Low-code platforms use a visual and intuitive approach to development. This can be used to automate tasks, end-to-end processes and workflows. One of the biggest advantages is that with a simple drag and drop, it creates an intuitive interface. Which can be seamlessly used by developers across the organization.
6. Broader application and use case beyond finance and accounting
While finance and accounting remain some of the top use cases for RPA services, process improvements are slated to spread faster into other business uses. From streamlining customer service with automation to automating transactional sales tasks to managing HR processes from end-to-end, there will be a surge in RPA use cases across business functions and industries.
7. RPA integration
As RPA capabilities evolve, so does the need to integrate it with other technologies to build on this strength. This means RPA will be integrated with other tools and technologies with tighter alignment between complementary use cases. For instance, integrating process mining, RPA, and AI disciplines like computer vision.
8. Increased adoption of RPA among SME adopters
In the aftermath of the pandemic, small and medium enterprises(SMEs) have realized the importance of process automation for their businesses to stay competitive and resilient. During a global survey by Deloitte that interviewed executives, 73% of respondents said that their organizations have embarked on a path to intelligent automation. In the coming years, SMEs will continue to adopt RPA solutions at a faster pace to streamline their processes and become more efficient.
9. RPA will take over enterprise resource planning (ERP)
One of the key challenges that organizations face is to bring their ERP and legacy systems up to the speed of digital transformation. Yet, ERP stores vast amounts of business critical data which is hard to extract and migrate. Manual data entry into ER systems is laborious, time-consuming and error-prone. RPA can be leveraged for ERP purposes in two main ways. One by enabling teams to automate daily repetitive tasks and business processes. With a few hours of training, employees can design the workflow that their own bots will use to complete daily tasks. Secondly, by recording these processes through automatic code generation and creating a software bot. Industry analysts such as Gartner predict that ERP will experience a dramatic shift where RPA, AI and automation will play an important role.
10. RPA as a Service(RPAaaS) will be mainstream
The everything “as a Service “model has gained wide acceptance and adoption with organizations opting for SaaS, ITaaS, PaaS and other services. Banking on the huge popularity and broad use cases of RPA, many automation system integrators will launch the RPA as a Service (RPAaaS) model. As witnessed in 2020, organizations using SaaS were able to innovate faster to thrive the disruption without extra costs or efforts. The same principle can be applied for RPAaaS. For instance, RPA as a service was leveraged by Nasdaq across its finance operations to increase productivity, efficiency, save money and time. It also mitigates risks and manages compliance.
The global RPA industry has made huge advances in 2020-2021. 2022 might just prove to be the game-changer for RPA where it expands into newer terrains adds new capabilities. Automation will continue to cement its position as a must-have enterprise technology with RPA at its heart.