Robotic Process Automation increasingly looks like a
game-changer. Why? And why now? We discover that you need to look at the
past, as much as the present, for the real answers.
professional researchers, we’ve been studying IT-enabled business
transformations for over 25 years, taking a long view of the sector
through multiple generations of technology. We’ve been especially
fascinated with the recent performance of Robotic Process Automation
(RPA) and the impressive results customers have achieved over the five
years we’ve been researching it. Our service automation research base
includes dozens of case studies and multiple quantitative surveys,
analyzed in several books, articles and conference presentations.
RPA simply the newest “new thing” in enterprise technology? Or is
something deeper going on? We’ve been asking the same questions of
ourselves that others have been asking: “What’s different about RPA? Why
is everybody so excited? Why is the value realized so high?” The
answer, our research suggests, has a lot to do with context.
the past 30 years, companies in all industries have undertaken a
succession of large-scale initiatives to improve operational
effectiveness and competitiveness, applying the three classic enterprise
transformation levers: People, Process, and Technology.
summary table below suggests, all these initiatives, from ITO and BPO to
BPR, ERP, TQM, BPM and all the other acronyms, share some common
features: they’re expensive, they involve long-term consultancy
services, standalone “strategic” budgets and dedicated deployment teams,
and they take a long time to implement. And oh, they’re all disruptive
to the business.
Looking at this picture, one might pity the Operations and IT
executives charged with leading and managing these interventions – it’s
hard, painful work, with expensive, inflexible, long-cycle tools, for
uncertain and often hard-to-quantify gains, with limited recognition and
Enter RPA, which emerges in this context as a
surprisingly winning solution. RPA technologies are available in three
- Autonomous, enterprise-grade RPA, delivered on a server or cloud infrastructure;
- Local, “assistive” desktop versions, known as Robotic Desktop Automation (RDA); and,
- A third, more IT-intensive model resembling a software development kit (SDK).
all three models have their value, enterprise-grade RPA offers the
business a code-free, flexible, general purpose tool set. We’re not
suggesting its problem-free or without challenges, but RPA is relatively
easy to configure, offers rapid implementation, high ROI, and early
benefit realization, with minimal pain and mostly happy users.
business leaders, it eliminates multi-year waits on the IT work queue,
enables control over configuration to meet changing process demands, and
allows the workforce to pursue more rewarding, revenue-generating
activities while increasing productivity. Conversely, RPA also enables
the IT function to focus on core enterprise infrastructure and relieves
pressure on shrinking IT resources (people and budgets), while
maintaining security and governance. Because RPA software operates at
the presentation layer, moreover, it doesn’t disturb or compromise
underlying systems of record.
Is RPA a magic elixir? Given the
challenges noted earlier, and the need for specialist implementation
expertise, RPA isn’t a panacea for all enterprise ills. But it clearly
changes earlier paradigms of enterprise transformation and greatly
boosts productivity. In autonomous server- and cloud-based models,
enterprise RPA creates an agile, flexible technology platform on which
to build a truly digital business – a new, business-driven and
business-managed layer on the IT “stack,” if you will. For all those
unsung operations leaders, our research to date offers abundant evidence
why they’re so excited about the opportunity and the benefits.
the coming weeks and months, we’ll be publishing a series of reports,
sponsored by Blue Prism, on “The Keys to RPA Success” – check back here
regularly for updates, or download our findings from https://www.blueprism.com/executive-research-reports/keys-to-rpa-part1-becoming-strategic-with-rpa.