Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been a sector on fire. In order to carry momentum in the coming months and years some things need to change and unfold while delivering on tactical benefits. The will be a shift from a reduction of labor exclusively to more of a business outcome driven approach. Listed below are the changes I see coming in RPAs future. Make no mistake that automation will continue to be a big theme, but additional factors are needed to keep the momentum at a fever pitch.
RPA Must Target Multiple Business Outcomes:
Traditionally RPA has made a great living reducing labor costs while adding accuracy and moving dull labor to automated bots. Mimicking human actions will continue, but there are other business outcomes that need servicing by RPA. As Bots grow in capability, it can act as a listening post for patterns of interest, bid on available work and assist as a digital assistant to customers. Bots need to be goal driven as well to adjust to changing business needs.
RPA Market Places Must Emerge:
Today bots are built and will continue to be, but businesses will want to buy or rent bots to shorten time to results. This will probably happen vendor by vendor, but eventually these bots will have to be supportive across vendor lines as standards and universal catalogs emerge.
RPA Must Get Smarter:
Bots today are rather simple and single function in orientation. Over time these bots will leverage algorithms, statistical models, and multiple forms of AI and extend their functional impact and reach. As they get smarter they will become more autonomous and start to bid on tasks.
RPA Has to be Governed on the Edge:
Autonomous bots will live on the edge and act with high levels of freedom. This brings the challenge of setting up governance boundaries and constraints. Swarming agents/bots will likely be goal driven and bidding to win business, so dynamic governance will rise in importance
RPA Must Increase its Scope of Impact:
While RPA can replace humans on happy paths to create straight through processes, but there is much more to address. Bots must grow from structured screens and data to knowledge rich cases or dynamic processes that are emergent in nature. Bots should be able to sense events and recognize patterns, assist decisions and suggest or take actions.
RPA Must Assist the Human Experience:
Bots should not only assist employees and other labor focused resources, bots should assist customers. These bots should sense the personas and behave in context to assist people on either their work or consumer journeys.
RPA Needs to Embrace Adjacent Technologies:
RPA vendors should seek to partner with process vendors, process mining vendors and digital assistant providers at a minimum. Additionally RPA providers should leverage and partner AI and algorithm providers to expand their future.
RPA is great, but it needs to set it's sights on a broader and deeper set of impacts. To keep this roaring fire of momentum going, I expect many of the seven categories above to be leveraged. It is a big set of tasks for these vendors, but the outcomes will be valuable to all.
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