Today, along with recent technological advancements in machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and big data, Robotic Process Automation has become well known to businesses of all sizes. Indeed, the word has spread of this revolutionary technology. A technology that can automate up to 80% of software application processes in both the front and back office, thus reducing the costs of existing manual operations by 25% to 40% (or more) without changing existing systems.
By now many have seen some of the gaudy numbers, such as the RPA Industry will be worth $3.1 billion by 2019 and $4.9 billion by 2020. By 2025, the estimated potential savings that companies will experience using RPA will be between $5 trillion to $7 trillion! Some industry insiders continue to passionately fan the flames for widespread RPA adoption, calling it a “must evaluate technology,” while others are already heralding the beginning of the next industrial age.
However, for all this hype surrounding RPA, the reality on the ground paints a somewhat different picture. RPA projects are experiencing difficulties when attempting to move beyond proof of concept or pilot phase, according to Deloitte. If the problem is not with the technology, why are there many organizations that are, at best, slow to benefit from RPA?
Hype vs. Reality
Perhaps the biggest issue hindering the adoption of RPA for so many businesses is simply the misinformation and unrealistic expectations that are continually being perpetuated to unknowing customers. The primary example of such misinformation is that RPA is merely a business user tool that companies can buy, implement and deploy on their own without any help from IT, and then sit back and reap the benefits as the bots run autonomously in the background. Unfortunately, many business users are quickly discovering they don’t possess the technical expertise to independently roll-out effective RPA implementation and change management programs. Instead, they are finding automation processes are rather complicated, even where adequate process documentation exists, especially while integrating RPA with other applications. Furthermore, just like humans, bots need constant care and attention over the course of their life, from management and maintenance to upgrades.
The truth is the foundation for short, and long-term RPA success requires real collaboration between business management with IT operations leaders. First of all, such collaboration facilitates a holistic plan for effective integration, not just a narrow focus on the one RPA component, since a typical automation project requires specific complementary component technologies that together address the end-to-end process. Studies have shown that businesses that combine RPA with complementary digital tools tend to realize value much quicker than others. At the same time, because RPA itself offers an agile, no code integration, this flexible software automation tool is one that IT departments can more easily learn and apply, thus making not only collaboration more natural, but successful RPA implementation and governance more likely.
While a few early RPA adopters are already transitioning from experiment to scale, many organizations have yet to reap the benefits of RPA fully. To achieve success, business users must first get real about the real challenges of RPA integration, and then make the right strategic choices collaboratively to lay the proper foundation for an effective digital workforce. Thus, turning all the RPA hype into full-blown reality!
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