The future of RPA is integrated, intelligent and intuitive
Automation and the technology that facilitates it move quickly. For those who make smart decisions early, this quick advancement is an advantage that allows for agility years into the future.
Think back to how organizations viewed the cloud less than a decade ago. The decision to move business-critical information to the cloud was seen as “bleeding edge” and inherently risky. After all, how could you trust the security and longevity of information when you didn’t have on-premise control?
Now, however, in an era of dispersed workforces and globalization, the cloud is synonymous with information management and organizational resilience. Those early adopters of cloud-based practices were better situated to adapt to changes brought by time and circumstance (i.e., the pandemic).
Comparably, RPA will soon become synonymous with process management. Every business process will be scrutinized through the lens of automation: How can we make today’s processes more efficient, more effective, less risky?
What will determine RPA’s effective evolution?
A key component of RPA’s evolution is the integration of the tool into an organization’s content universe.
Already, RPA as a stand-alone product is beginning to show its limitations in application. That means pure-play RPA platforms (those that offer only RPA as a product) are not the best choice for most organizations.
Leading analysts predict RPA will soon be commoditized as a productivity enhancement tool. Key differentiation factors will revolve around how the RPA tool can function in tandem with intelligent enterprise automation — a collection of integrated technologies that may include intelligent capture, artificial intelligence, machine learning, case management, workflow, low-code capabilities and cloud-based content services.
As these other tools become smarter alongside RPA, it makes less sense to invest in a pure-play RPA platform and instead invest in one that natively integrates with the other capabilities that bring the most value and drive the highest, quickest ROI.
RPA technology alone can analyze, build, run and manage your identified business processes, and it will continue to be a crucial component. But, RPA will be just one of many components in a broader intelligent automation strategy.
After all, RPA automates tasks within processes — it’s up to humans or other technology to identify those processes, tightly integrate them with other tools and systems to address business problems, analyze cross-system data and make strategic decisions.
Organizational takeaway: To capitalize on their digital transformations, organizations should build a tactical automation strategy and implement integrated solutions that address their business problems, increase efficiency and consistency and allow them to achieve performance goals.
Undergoing an automation paradigm switch
The future of RPA is not the North Star — it won’t guide every organization toward enterprise automation. Instead, consider RPA part of a constellation.
As RPA and other automation technologies continue to advance, their paths and use cases will converge into industry-specific solution configurations that drive unique operational goals.
This means your automation strategy should be driven by your business initiatives and your customer expectations, not by capitalizing on what the technology is currently capable of.
For example, when an organization implements a modern platform run by a future-focused technology provider, it can set lofty, shoot-for-the-stars goals and trust that the solutions will be there to support those goals, rather than worrying about what’s possible with the technology available today.
“Traditionally, automation projects have been driven by technology advances,” says Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder of Deep Analysis, a technology analyst firm. “Today, however, automation projects are increasingly being driven by a more considered, holistic and intelligent mindset that starts with the business challenges to be resolved rather than the technology.”
In the Forrester guide Is Your Tech Ready for Customer Obsession?, the research and advisory firm advises organizations to “invest in technology innovation chains,” which it defines as “a series of related technologies that build upon one another synergistically to create breakthrough opportunities.”
Organizational takeaway: The future of automation is being driven by the intelligent application of intelligent processes. Your organization needs a broad suite of intelligent automation tools, including RPA, available to support its goals, strategies and initiatives, however they evolve.