Another view of what's to come in RPA in 2020

Post by
Scott Francis

Deep Analysis published a report on RPA in 2020. A few interesting insights to pick apart:

Process discovery tools will take the driver's seat and act as catalysts for automation opportunity identification

They're predicting that AI-based discovery tools will run on employee machines and do the discovery for you. Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves, but tools to do passive collecting of intelligence on the work being done exist today, and are in use. Culturally they're hard to deploy - employees are suspicious, companies worry about them. They do serve as an interesting counter balance to process mining, which typically looks at logs or other data from the server side of things.

I expect we'll continue to see interesting developments in automating process discovery activities.

Growth of intelligent document processing (IDP) solutions will catapult RPA from handling structured data to a class of AI solutions that process unstructured data.

This one is pretty conservative actually - we were building solutions like this last year. Expect more of the same in 2020 as IDP solutions only get better with more training.

The emergence of low code platforms (LCP) that complement RPA and supplement Business Process Management (BPM) will fill the remaining pieces of the process automation puzzle.

I think it is likely, in the long run, but we obsess over labels like "low-code" too much. Also, the RPA vendors still think about it as "human in the loop" with automation first, human as afterthought. It is likely that they'll have to change that perspective to human-first to truly get that integrated workflow result. For the same reason, process vendors have had a hard time focusing on great RPA functionality, essentially because they see the bot as an after thought to the human orchestration and coordination of work.

A resurgence of Citizen development, inspired by business-friendly automation tools, will drive the democratization of automation. As organizations start to move into federated models to scale automation to enterprise-level, more and more non-technical employees from the business will lead the charge of automation. Deploying automation tools can be slow-to-scale if tools aren't easy enough for them. Process discovery and RPA tools, along with low code platforms, will gain significant momentum within the business community by their non-technical-employee-friendly features.

I have a few concerns with this prediction.? If automation tools are going to be on every desktop in the business, the average price is still too high. If the price is high enough that I have to do an ROI calculation, it's too high. Because like most CEOs, I know that most people won't define their own processes and become citizen developers. So the ROI has to be such that I'll earn it on the 1 in 10 who do. Think Wikipedia, where less than 10% of the users do 90%+ of the writing and editing.

In our experience thus far, if you want to scale your RPA program, you need a team of professionals setting the pace, pushing the agenda, and building the program up. In the cases where we've seen a client go it alone and hope their teams will use it, with no outside help whatsoever, the journey has been slower and longer, postponing the return on investment unreasonably. Your mileage may vary.


The convergence of all the building blocks of automation into a unified software platform will position RPA as an end-to-end integrated automation platform.?RPA platform will bring key ingredients of automation and drive end-to-end intelligent process automation

I think this is one possible outcome, reasonably likely, but with lots of bumps along the road.The good news is that there is a faster way to that integrated automation experience. You don't have to wait for this to happen under one vendor umbrella, and you don't have to pay the premiums that software vendors will charge for their integrated solutions. You can get there today by combining RPA, process engines, Artificial Intelligence, and other technologies to build world-class automation solutions. Our team can help you get there, today.

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