According to a Gartner forecast, the “global Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software revenue is projected to reach $1.89 billion in 2021, an increase of 19.5% from 2020.” This prediction for revenue spike is all the more impressive given that most organizations are limiting their technology spending in the face of the harrowing economic instability caused by the Pandemic. What’s more, the same Garner report suggests that RPA’s revenue will continue to grow by double digits through to 2024.
Similarly, Forrester’s Prediction 2021 guide suggests that “one in every four information workers will receive help from software bots or Robotic Process Automation in 2021”. As organizations enter the second year of the pandemic, they will look to utilize RPA and other Intelligent Automation technologies in keeping employees high performing, engaged, and efficient. While RPA was widely adopted by organizations in 2020, it will mature into a technology meant for every department across an organization in the upcoming year.
As is already evident, from the arguments above, RPA will be one of the biggest (if not the most important) technology trends for 2021. It along with hyperautomation will redefine the way businesses operate. And with that thought in mind, let us understand the major dynamics that will impact RPA in 2021 and beyond.
1: Rise of Intelligent Process Automation (IPA)
Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) is a powerful blend of RPA’s rules-based automation capabilities, the sophistication of AI, trial-and-error learning capabilities of Machine Learning, and the fundamental process redesign. When deployed, this advanced tech will have a revolutionary effect on business efficiency and strategy making. Adoption of IPA will emanate new business approaches and lead to more diverse ways of working. Thanks to the upswell of RPA adoption on a worldwide scale, organizations are now looking for new ways to take automation further ahead. And IPA will deliver them with a next-generation, highly sophisticated, constantly-learning, and ever-evolving smart automation system to open new business possibilities.
2: RPA as a Service (RPAaaS) will become mainstream
The bygone year saw the rise and popularity of the “as a Service” model, with organizations embracing SaaS, ITaaS, and other such services. Utilizing the wide popularity of RPA, many automation system integrators are already planning on launching RPA as a Service model. In 2020, organizations leveraging SaaS were able to implement innovative solutions to transform the way they work without incurring any extra maintenance costs and needing minimum staff to manage the service. The same benefits will be delivered with RPAaaS. RPAaaS will incrementally decrease development and deployment costs and drive the need for deploying the most impactful and most reusable components.
3: Proliferation of RPA across various Sectors
IT organizations were the frontrunners in adopting and gaining business benefits from RPA. Now that the transformative value of RPA has been well established, it will witness a major proliferation in various non-technology sectors. While the Healthcare, Government, banking, and various other sectors are already employing RPA in a limited capacity to increase productivity and efficiency, the technology will expand in scope and span in 2021. RPA injection into business processes will not only mitigate costly manual errors, it will also enable organizations to stay ahead in terms of compliance.
4: Gradual Elimination of Paperwork
According to a Research and Markets report, “by 2025 the automation market will be overwhelmed with easy-to-deploy RPA models with pre-constructed functionalities for automating a variety of paperwork in an enterprise”. While RPA will enable organizations to save millions of man-hours in 2021, it will be able to gradually liberate employees from the monotonous tasks, exercises, and mundane time-consuming duties within the next few years. By 2025, human involvement in rules-based tasks might not be needed at all, while paperwork will be a thing of the past.
5: Blending of Manual and Digital Efforts
While Robots will continue to automate the unpredictable, dreary, and monotonous tasks for employees; some processes needing human empathy and intellect will still have to be run manually. While 2020 was all about implementing RPA to fully automate business processes, in 2021 organizations will adopt a more mixed approach – where humans and robots will work spontaneously together to get the job done. In the next few years, RPA will be integrated with several leading-edge innovations such as Blockchain, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Advanced Data Analytics, etc. to strengthen automation further.
6: Importance of Employee Experience (EX) and RPA
As the wait for a viable COVID-19 vaccine extends, we will be seeing an expanded spotlight on Employee Experience (EX). Organizations realize that their employees are under increased anxiety and concern related to the ongoing Pandemic and its resulting economic recession. They are worried about what these will mean for them and their families. RPA will enable organizations to help improve the EX. It will allow employees to stay productive and efficient thereby uplifting their morale. By liberating employees from mundane tasks, RPA will encourage them to learn new skills and explore other ways to contribute to the success of an organization.
While the global RPA industry took huge strides in 2020; 2021 will prove to be the catalyst year in the evolution of the technology. RPA will expand into new territories and add new capabilities. It will become a need for organizations and not just a desire.