Today, there’s a growing consensus that the age of robotic process automation (RPA) has arrived, capable of significantly increasing operational efficiency, thus offering clear-cut cost, performance and scalability benefits. It seems it’s only a matter of time before RPA will eventually be leveraged in just about every industry, automating business processes with cognitive systems. In fact, while estimates for the RPA market are currently around $500 million, in the next years, the market is expected to exceed $1 billion! In fact, one estimate pegs just the North American RPA market at over $3.5 billion by 2024 (per Grand View Research). These numbers not only point to the increasing usage by companies that are finding value in virtual robots but to growing number of capable providers as well.
Do you think this technology can be a good fit for your business? Would you like to learn more but have no idea where to start in choosing the right RPA solution for your business? If you would like to begin the process of making a more informed decision, here are the three most essential criteria to keep in mind:
Keep it Simple
First of all, you want an RPA solution that will make your business operate more efficiently, and if that is not the case, you’re defeating the purpose of implementing RPA in the first place. If your solution is so complex, it necessitates an IT ticket just to create or modify a simple process, it might make it difficult to deploy. Therefore, strive for an RPA solution that’s simple enough that all employees can utilize it for various types of work anywhere in the business, from gathering data to analyzing and transforming data into relevant business information to enforcing the rules of your RPA processes. One prime example is the interface design. Since it’s one of the most important features of usability of an RPA tool, it’s very important that it provides a clear, user-friendly interface that offers smooth functionality on both the technical side as well as the end-user side. In fact, the best authoring environments often have virtually zero learning curve, with a visual interface where users can easily drag and drop process activities. This capability makes it efficient not only to computer programmers but for all business users across the organization.
While any RPA solution must be simple enough that employees can use it, at the same time, it must also be smart and sophisticated enough to leverage more advanced learning to further advance its power of automation. Search for a product that you can apply business rules to any data source (enterprise systems, databases, and business intelligence applications to understand sophisticated content, extract the exact information you need, and then enrich and transform the data based on the specific needs of your organization. Keep in mind that part of what makes these systems intelligent is in their flexibility to effectively adapt to the changing needs of a business, so don’t invest in an RPA solution that’s confined to a strict set of assumptions, or you’ll end up spending a lot of time and effort keeping it updated.
Even if you plan to deploy RPA on a small scale, in the beginning, you’ve got to think long-term, because once you begin to understand the cost and time savings it offers, eventually you’ll want to deploy it across the organization. Therefore, the best thing to do is to centrally manage everything around the processes you’re automating, meaning your optimal solution is to publish robot processes with a standard Java, NET, SOAP and RESTful interface that can be accessed by other business applications and processes, or create accessible applications for enterprise users. While you may be able to manage a few hundred robots individually, if you purchase a solution for a large enterprise deployment that wasn’t designed from the ground up for enterprise-grade scalability, manageability, and reliability, it is going to be quite a painful process trying to add it after the fact. No matter what your current needs are, any RPA solution you seek out should have the capability and track record for this functionality.
In the end, any decision as to which robotic process automation solution is the best choice for your company will also depend on many other circumstances that may be particular to your business. However, these three criteria should at least offer a foundation from which to build for now, and for the future.