It is almost impossible to discuss the future robotic process automation (RPA), without referring to the future automation in general and, indirectly, our workforce.
Let’s start with The history and present of RPA before we get into the future. RPA is a technology that has existed since at least 2000. It has been part the common tech vocabulary for more than ten years. It is currently available in at most small, isolated instances at large organizations. Despite being limited in their implementations, RPA has increased efficiency, effectiveness, and agility in business processes. RPA automates repetitive, high-volume tasks that are not of business value.
Modern automation is a key driver of organizational success. It supports overall digital transformation goals and improves business efficiency. Frost & Sullivan found that there is a positive correlation in RPA intensity and profitability. Employees are free to focus on creative work or customer-facing tasks by automating repetitive, tedious work. This allows them to drive innovation, customer experience, and revenue.
According to Deloitte Global RPA Survey 2018, RPA can increase workforce productivity by 86% and quality and accuracy by 90%, and improve compliance by 92%, according to Deloitte Global RPA Survey 2018.
RPA implementation at any level of an organization is a net benefit. This is true regardless of whether the application is compatible with the technology. As other automation-enabling technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence gain speed and sophistication, RPA usage will increase and the ROI of RPA will also accelerate.
What are the capabilities of RPA current?
Robotic process automation, however, is a misleading term. RPA automates tasks in a process that can then connected for an end-to-end automation. RPA today is a good fit, but the individual tasks that are to be connected must:
- Always follow the same rule-based, repetitive pattern
- You should take up a lot of time as an employee (but not necessarily your brainpower).
- Use templates-based information acquisition
- Make it easy to repeat and manage.
Automation today requires an in-depth understanding of the labor-intensive business process before it can be automated. Before RPA can learn, duplicate, and automate these tasks, the people who implement it must identify the most repetitive, time-consuming and costly tasks in their business.
RPA is limited in that it can’t anticipate or automate activities that were not performed manually by a person.
Is RPA therefore a less attractive investment? No!
When faced with multistep algebra problems, think of RPA as a calculator.
Automating calculations via the calculator tool makes it more likely that you will get the correct answer. This also means you can do the calculations with less stress and take up less time. Effective use of the calculator tool requires you to be familiar with the variables that need to be input and the order in which they should be addressed.
RPA works in a similar way. RPA is expected to improve its ability to identify and improve processes within and across your systems. This means that your organization will not only be able automate processes, but it will also be able get in front them completely.
Also read: Top 10 Automation Testing Tools
Future of RPA is intelligent, integrated and intuitive
The technology that facilitates automation is moving quickly. This rapid advancement allows for agility that will last years, if you make good decisions early.
Consider how organizations saw the cloud a decade ago. The move of business-critical information to cloud computing was considered “bleeding edge” as well as risky. Because you don’t have control over the information on-premise, how can you trust its security and longevity?
The cloud has become synonymous with resilience and information management in an age of globalization and dispersed workforces. Cloud-based practices helped early adopters be more resilient to changing circumstances and time (e.g. the pandemic).
RPA will soon be synonymous with process management. Automation will soon be a key component of every business process. How can we make them more efficient, effective, and less risky?
What is the best way to determine RPA’s evolution?
Integration of RPA into an organization’s content world is a key component in RPA’s evolution.
RPA is already beginning to show its limitations as an independent product. Pure-play RPA platforms, which offer RPA only as a product, are not the best option for most organizations.
Leading analysts believe that RPA will become a commodity as a productivity-enhancing tool. The RPA tool’s ability to work in conjunction with intelligent enterprise automation will be a key differentiation factor. This could include low-code capabilities, intelligent capture, AI, machine learning, case managing, workflow, and cloud-based content service.
It is becoming less practical to invest in RPA platforms that are pure-play. Instead, invest in RPA platforms that can natively integrate with other capabilities. This will bring you the greatest value and the fastest ROI.
RPA technology can analyse, build, run, and manage any identified business processes. It will remain a critical component. RPA is just one component of a larger intelligent automation strategy.
RPA automates tasks within existing processes. It’s up to humans and other technology to identify and integrate those processes with other tools and systems in order to solve business problems, analyze cross-system information, and make strategic decisions.
The Organizational Takeaway: To capitalize on digital transformations, companies should develop a strategy for tactical automation and implement integrated solutions to address business problems, improve efficiency, consistency, and help them achieve their performance goals.
Undergoing an automation paradigm switch
RPA’s future is not the North Star. It won’t lead every organization towards enterprise automation. Consider RPA as part of a larger constellation. RPA and other automation technologies will continue to evolve and their use cases and paths will merge into industry-specific solutions that achieve unique operational goals.
Your automation strategy should focus on your business goals and customer expectations, not what technology can do.
An example is that an organization can implement a modern platform managed by a futuristic technology provider and set high-level goals. It can also trust that the solutions will support them, instead of worrying about what’s possible today.
“Historically, automation projects were driven by technological advances,” states Alan Pelz Sharpe, founder and chief technology analyst at Deep Analysis. Automation projects today are driven more by a holistic, intelligent, and considered mindset. This focuses on the business problems to be solved rather than technology.
The Forrester guide Is your tech ready for customer obsession?, advises organizations to “invest into technology innovation chains,” which is defined by the research and advisory firm as “a set of related technologies that work together to create breakthrough opportunities.”
The organization takeaway: Intelligent application of intelligent processes is driving the future of automation. You need a wide range of intelligent automation tools to support your organization’s goals, strategies, and initiatives as they change.
Will RPA replace jobs?
A robotic workforce has been the cornerstone of every future imagined for more than 100 years. The idea of a robotic workforce resurfacing again and again depends on the economic, political, and social climate.
Research shows people with a household income below $25,000 had 856% greater odds of seeing automation as threatening their jobs than those with an income between $60,000-$120,000.
This trust in automation is more common in lower-income households, as they are more likely have a full time worker who does manual labor. Automating is about achieving the same or higher output with a lower volume of work for humans. This is why repetitive manual tasks like those done by blue-collar workers are often portrayed as the easiest task to automate.
In reality, however, the line between automation and blue-collar jobs and redundancy is blurred.
Blue-collar Vs. White-Collar vs. Automation
Although automation is often associated with negative emotions, the argument against it is more about perceptions than facts. In its Future of Jobs Report 2020, the World Economic Forum noted that emerging technologies will create 12 millions more jobs than they replace by 2025.
Particularly blue-collar workers are at risk of being replaced by automation and industrial robots. These workers are not easy to find. According to CNBC, the trend in blue-collar and other manual services wages has been upward over the past few years. This is faster than what CNBC reports. These workers have been affected by automation, but there are still skilled blue-collar jobs.
The future may not be as stable for white-collar workers as popular culture suggests. Many of the white-collar computer-based tasks in reporting, accounting, and payables are more automated than those that rely on more manual labor. It’s logistically easier for small computer robots to work flawlessly within a technology system than large, human-sized robots performing large motor skills tasks in real life.
This white-collar automation capability may result in fewer headcount for those computer-based functions. White-collar workers can focus on more valuable, engaging work if their repetitive tasks are automated. The experience for employees who have had their responsibilities automated has been largely positive, particularly in areas that reduce risk and exertion such as material movement and physical work areas.
What is the positive case for automation
Trends have also shown that automation can open up two additional jobs for every job that is lost. RPA automates a portion of a process but not the entire workflow. RPA will automate some responsibilities within a role and not all roles in an organisation.
YouGov and Hyland surveyed 58% of workers to find out how much they spend their time doing repetitive, rote tasks. 36% reported that they would prefer to spend time creating work, while 28% said they want to spend more time with customers. This shift towards knowledge work can be made possible by automation, since robots still lack creativity and customer service.
Automation and the workforce of tomorrow have many aspects. Yes, technology will continue to impact how we work but it will be overwhelmingly positive. RPA and other automation technologies can be used to augment the work done by humans, rather than replace it.
Also read: 6 Best Open Source Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Tools
What’s the next step for RPA innovation in modern RPA?
Unattended RPA, where bots operate in the background without human intervention, seems more techy on the surface. However, attended RPA (also known as Robotic Desktop Automation or RDA), where the bot acts as a digital assistant for front-office employees by speeding up task completion, is more difficult. Attendance RPA is more likely to improve customer experience. An attended bot, for example, can be used to assist customer service representatives during support calls with data entry and document retrieval.
Semistructured and unstructured data
RPA can use intelligent data capture to harness AI capabilities and recognize, categorize, and correctly manage data that is less structured or template-based than it is today.
RPA, like any technology, is susceptible to bugs. More automation will require more oversight and maintenance to ensure that they run smoothly. Humans must recognize, identify, and fix any errors in RPA processes. Self-healing RPA robots will soon be able scan and correct errors in automated processes, reducing the need for human oversight.
Although process mining is fully functional right now, it will become more sophisticated and integrated into RPA in the future. Bots will be capable of discovering opportunities for RPA automation to automate tasks and process, increasing efficiency, effectiveness, and agility beyond what organizations might have considered.
Extended Business Process Management (BPM)
RPA will become more integrated with intelligent automation suites, and automation is applied more widely than it is currently. RPA will be able secure automate processes across functional teams and between external partner ecosystems.
Hyperautomation is a buzzword in 2022. It’s defined by Gartner to be “a business-driven method to identify, vet, and automate as much business and IT processes possible.” Hyperautomation must be orchestrated use of multiple technologies, tools, and platforms in order to become mainstream. This includes RPA and process mining tools.
Get ready for the future RPA
It should not be just about the immediate ROI. This decision should reflect your company’s goals and automation strategy. It should also consider how the tool will integrate and scale to ensure its continued value.
Frost & Sullivan suggests that you consider the following when making your RPA decision.
- Usability: The general interface, automation design and administration panel are all available in
- Integration: With other cloud- or web-based systems, apps, and repositories relevant, including cloud and Web-based
- Agility: that allows for easy modifications to automations as business requirements change
- Flexibility: in deploying RPA across different business areas
It is smart to partner with a provider who has expertise beyond RPA because of the way RPA’s future is intertwined with your workforce’s future. A comprehensive, innovative and intelligent product and capability portfolio will help you achieve your enterprise automation goals, regardless of how they change. Partner who is customer-oriented will recognize that different organizations need different combinations of technologies and tools to achieve their goals.
Find an RPA partner who:
- You should be able to focus on your business goals, such as efficiency, effectiveness, and agility.
- Automate at scale through integration and co-creation with existing solution providers
- Take into account your (and their) long-term automation strategy
- Improves your customer facing capabilities
- Increase the speed and quality of your decision-making
- Increases your ability to deal with customers, products, and other services.
RPA technology’s capabilities will increase. However, RPA in your organization’s future should be determined by your future– Not the future of technology. You should be focused on your strategic business plan and implement an intelligent automation solution that supports it.