Roadmap to RPA Implementation: Thinking Long Term

Key reasons for investing in RPA include streamlining organization-wide business process automation initiatives and addressing process inefficiencies and bottlenecks.

Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer

October 3, 2022

5 Min Read
RPA, acronym for Robotic Process Automation, in wooden alphabet letters isolated on background
Josie Elias via Alamy Stock

The opportunities to automate within an organization are broad and deep -- including within IT, finance, HR, supply chain, and customer services, and interest in automation continues to deepen.

Automation remains one of the fastest growing enterprise software categories, with a recent report by research firm Gartner stating it expects global robotic process automation (RPA) software revenue to increase nearly 20% over last year.

While RPA solutions traditionally focused on automating tasks via screen scraping, today’s modern RPA solutions focus on an API-first approach for process automation.

Meanwhile, RPA vendors are continuously enhancing their API integration capabilities to offer both user interface-based screen scraping and API-first integration capabilities to their customers.

“Vendors are focusing on evolving their RPA offerings into a broader automation platform with complementary technologies, such as process mining and task mining for process automation, monitoring and improvement, and wide range of integration capabilities,” says Gartner senior market research specialist Varsha Mehta.

She explains RPA adoption depends on organization needs and priorities -- if process automation and improvement is one of the initiatives or achieving operational efficiency and productivity improvements, RPA should be considered as one of the potential technology candidates to help achieve these goals.

“RPA plays an essential role in driving the trend to hyperautomation, a discipline that helps to combine several technologies in an orchestrated manner to deliver end-to-end, intelligent, event-driven automation,” she says.

Mehta notes competitive vendors are increasingly expanding their RPA offerings into a more advanced automation platform that includes various hyperautomation-enabling technologies for growth.

This includes low-code/no-code, process mining, task mining, decision modeling, intelligent business process management (BPM or iBPMS), integration and API capabilities, among others, on top of their existing RPA offerings.

“With these continuous additions and technology enhancements, vendors are envisioning to provide an all-encompassing hyperautomation-enabling technology platform in the near future,” she says.

Developing a Long-Term Plan for RPA

Ted Kummert, executive vice president of products and engineering at UiPath, says RPA should be viewed as a long-range capability meant to empower organizations to evolve strategically and increase business value.

It is a journey that can start small, within one division or one department, and grow organically across the business as additional ideas form and the organization’s vision for automation’s potential comes to fruition.

He says RPA can clear backlog, create new capacity, and free up resources, and improve data quality by integrating software robots into workflows.

“It is a truly transformative technology that can reduce or eliminate manual tasks and elevate creative, high-value work,” Kummert says. “Digital transformation is often talked about, but many times can fall short of its goals. Automation is the driver to achieve true digital transformation.”

Adam Glaser, senior vice president of engineering for Appian, says many businesses use one automation technology, adding third-party capabilities in patchwork fashion to automate complex end-to-end processes.

“It works for the moment and generates some short-term value, but patchwork isn’t seamless, and this kind of automation strategy isn’t built to last,” he says.

When an organization plans to adopt RPA, it should take into consideration all its automation needs and ensure that RPA is considered as a part of a larger strategy.

“Generally speaking, the key IT decision makers are leading this effort, but the C-suite should also be on board,” Glaser explains. “Automation impacts the business as much as technology, and as a result we are seeing RPA being most successful when it is combined with business process optimization and engages both business-line leaders and process owners.”

Bring RPA Training Across the Enterprise

Kummert says that another element organizations should not overlook is training both for RPA practitioners and business users who will engage with automation as it scales across the business.

He says the most successful customers are those who think top down about what they want to accomplish, set bold goals, and identify strong use cases.

“A great example is Uber, which implemented automation from UiPath first in its finance division and then within more divisions,” he explains. “To date, Uber has more than 100 automations in production, which saves the company an estimated $10 million per year. Uber achieved 350% ROI in a single year.”

RPA Improves Accuracy, Reduces Manual Tasks

Jesse Coomber, vice president of operations at smart home and small business security specialist ADT, explains that RPA has helped the company reduce manual interactions between their field technicians and operational agents.

“Once a technician completes an install, instead of making a phone call to an agent, the technician will use a chatbot to perform all the checks and tests that the agent previously performed,” Coomber explains. “Once complete, the robot will return the confirmation number to the technician.”

Projects are also underway to introduce RPA for customer self-service features, including system checks/diagnostics, system/device reboots and battery replenishments.

“Our RPA journey began two years ago with a solution for the purpose of increasing value add time for finance personnel, call center agents and technicians and increasing agent and technician productivity,” he explains. “We wanted to increase the speed and accuracy of information and improve the quality of identification of exception audits and compliance.”

Other goals were increasing operational efficiency and increasing employee engagement due to fewer repetitive tasks, according to Coomber. He also sees additional roles for RPA implementation in the future.

“We'll be tapping into the technology to integrate our systems to work together seamlessly, which includes equipping all of our operational agents and technicians with RPA digital assistants that assist in serving our customers throughout the day,” he says.

The company then plans on extending those same digital assistant and automation features to their customers as self-service capabilities.

What to Read Next:

Enterprise Guide to Robotic Process Automation

How to Choose Which RPA/Intelligent Automation Platform Is Right for You

How to Measure Automation Success for the Enterprise

About the Author(s)

Nathan Eddy

Freelance Writer

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.

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