Is Robotic Process Automation a Bubble Ready to Burst?
by Jim Sinur
While some look at the robotic process automation (RPA) market’s growth—plus the strong influx of capital—and see a great opportunity, others predict that RPA’s bubble is ready to burst. These views are quite polar in their premise. In this blog, we’ll take a look at where the future of RPA is headed.
The Case for a Bubble
There has been a frenzy around the RPA market and the numbers keep growing. Predictions estimate the RPA market at over U.S. $4 billion dollars in 2022 with compounded annual growth rates over 25%. There are still new entrants that are nicely funded and the big three in the market are taking more rounds. The growth seems to be there, the funding is strong, and the demand continues to grow. There are strong use cases for attended and unattended automation. So, what are the problems?
Organizations are famished for automation, so they are not looking at the unintended consequences of RPA today. First, the expectations are being set too high and the implication is that the projects are really easy. Some organizations are jumping for short-term automation and not looking at the end-to-end processes for true digital transformation.
Other organizations are ignoring the complexity and rigidity of RPA implementations that are dependent on fixed data sources and positions on screens that will require significant maintenance in times of change. Eventually, realism will hit RPA projects.
The Case for Continued Opportunity
RPA has delivered on the identified goals in many projects and there are many case studies that are out in the public domain. These projects are leading to best practices that are emerging now. While there is a temptation to linearly project benefits, in 2019, we expect to see more successes and best practice guidelines for RPA efforts. We will see bot markets (conversational AI) emerge, so there will be more individual bots and bot package combinations for jump-starts for vertical and horizontal automations.
As RPA combines with AI, knowledge management, or process mining, the potential for expanding automation is real and may be more focused than ever. The future looks bright for RPA if applied with good sense and reasonable expectations. Will there be a consolidation and partnering with other digital platforms? For sure, but not a bubble by any means.
For RPA to continue to greater heights, it will have to bridge to and integrate with other technologies and other platforms. The first integration seems to be business process management (BPM), and the second is often either AI or process mining, which usually employ forms of machine learning, and in some cases, deep learning. This will mean extending automation past processes to independent resources (people, systems, services, and machines) that may play in many processes.
Does it morph into robotic resource automation (RRA)? Only time will tell.