Hi there! Robotic Process Automation or RPA has transformed how modern organizations operate by automating repetitive tasks. However, RPA is much more than just software bots mimicking human actions. Several intelligent automation capabilities are now emerging that you should keep on your radar for 2023.
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll walk you through the top 5 RPA trends that will shape the future of process automation. I‘ll also provide concrete examples, expert perspectives, and real-world statistics to help you understand how these trends are impacting businesses today.
By the end, you‘ll have a clear overview of:
- The latest developments in RPA like intelligent automation and cybersecurity use cases
- Practical insights from RPA leaders and analyst research
- How to leverage these trends based on your RPA maturity level
Let‘s get started!
1. The Rise of RPA Centers of Excellence
First up is the trend towards centralized governance of RPA activities through a Center of Excellence or CoE.
What is an RPA Center of Excellence?
An RPA CoE is a cross-functional team that provides shared services for strategy, governance, execution and technical support of automation programs.
According to Deloitte, over 50% of companies with successful RPA deployments have established a CoE.
Other sources back this as well:
- Gartner found that 75% of organizations with RPA CoEs reported improved efficiency and costs.
Benefits of implementing an RPA CoE [Source: Deloitte]
Additionally, a CoE provides the following advantages:
- Strategic alignment – Develop automation roadmap aligned to business priorities
- Best practices – Standardize bot development, testing, change management, support etc.
- Scalability – Dedicated team to scale automation across departments
- Training – Conduct training and skill development programs on RPA
- Vendor management – Streamline procurement and management of RPA softwares
According to Deloitte, companies using an effective CoE model complete automation projects 90% more quickly with over 50% cost savings.
Key Considerations for an RPA CoE
However, simply having a CoE isn‘t enough. The CoE needs to have the right structure and capabilities. Here are some leading practices:
- Hybrid model – Include both technical and business roles like solution architects, business analysts, changemanagers etc.
- Phased roadmap – Evolve CoE from basic governance to value delivery to CoE-as-a-Service
- Collaboration – Maintain links across IT, automation team and business units
- Talent development – Create internal academies and learning programs on RPA
By taking a strategic approach to building out your automation CoE, you can maximize the value delivered by RPA.
2. Integration with Emerging Technologies
Next on the list of promising RPA trends is integration with other cutting-edge technologies like AI, ML and conversational interfaces.
RPA provides a gateway to end-to-end intelligent automation when combined with complementary technologies:
- Cognitive RPA – AI capabilities like NLP, computer vision and ML allow RPA to handle unstructured data.
- Chatbots/Virtual Agents – Integration with conversational interfaces provides smooth customer interactions
- ERP integration – Direct integration with ERP systems like SAP enables automation within ERP
- API integration – Exchange of data between programs using API integration
In a survey by Deloitte Insights, 97% of organizations that combine RPA with other technologies have achieved higher ROI.
Let‘s look at some real-world examples of RPA and AI integration:
- Swiss Re – Combined RPA with AI for underwriting processes. Handling time for complex cases reduced from 2 weeks to 5 minutes.
- DataRobot – Leveraged RPA + AI to automate repetitive data preparation tasks. This enabled data scientists to focus on higher value analysis.
As per a McKinsey Global Survey, organizations using both AI and RPA report the highest performance improvements:
Performance improvements from RPA and AI integration [Source: McKinsey]
The integration capabilities of RPA platforms are rapidly evolving. This trend will enable end-to-end automation connecting front and back office processes.
3. Outsourcing to RPA-Focused MSPs
Now let‘s move on to another strategic trend – outsourcing RPA to specialized Managed Service Providers or MSPs.
RPA adoption requires upfront investment in tools, infrastructure, training and skill building. Many companies are now looking to MSPs to accelerate automation in a cost-effective manner.
Key benefits of outsourcing to an RPA MSP:
- Faster implementation – MSPs can deliver an automation solution within weeks
- Technical expertise – MSPs provide the skills to develop, test, run and manage software bots
- Pay-per-bot pricing – Subscription model reduces upfront costs
- Flexibility – Options for hybrid model with mix of in-house and outsourced automation
According to Everest Group, the RPA MSP market will reach $50 billion by 2025 due to demand.
However, the level of MSP technical capabilities, security practices, and experience varies greatly. Key selection criteria include:
- Proven experience – Number of clients, variety of use cases delivered
- Technical expertise – Skill in leading RPA platforms like UiPath, Automation Anywhere etc.
- Security – Encryption, access controls, SOC 2 compliance etc.
- Pricing model – Per bot pricing, volume discounts etc.
- Hybrid options – Flexibility for in-house and outsourced automation
With careful vendor evaluation, outsourcing to MSPs can significantly accelerate your RPA initiatives.
4. The Evolution to Intelligent RPA
The RPA landscape is progressing from basic process automation to intelligent process automation. Let‘s understand what this means.
Intelligent RPA augments RPA tools with AI capabilities like:
- Machine learning algorithms for dynamic decisions
- Natural language processing for working with text data
- Computer vision for perceiving visuals and extracting information
This allows RPA to automate more complex tasks involving unstructured data, judgment, and predictive insights.
Benefits of Intelligent RPA
Intelligent automation provides the following advantages over basic RPA as per Deloitte:
- Increased cost and time savings
- Greater automation accuracy
- Improved CX and decision making
- Finding insights in data
The global intelligent RPA market size is expected to grow at a CAGR of 26% from $1.4 billion in 2020 to $15 billion by 2030.
Let‘s look at two examples of intelligent RPA in action:
- MetLife – Automated complex insurance claims processing involving 150 document types using AI and RPA. Processing time reduced from days to minutes.
- Swisslog Healthcare – Combined RPA with machine learning for inventory planning and optimization. Inventory costs reduced by 75% and planning time by 90%.
The addition of intelligence expands the possibilities for enterprise automation. This trend will shape the next phase of RPA adoption.
5. Automating Cybersecurity Processes
The final RPA trend I want to discuss is using software bots to strengthen cybersecurity defenses.
On one hand, RPA adoption comes with the risk of bots being misused for malicious activity if access is not controlled properly.
But on the other hand, RPA can automate critical security processes to reduce the burden on security analysts. Common use cases include:
- User behavior analytics – Monitor user activity patterns to detect insider threats
- Threat intelligence – Scan dark web sites for emerging cyber risks
- Security operations – Automate incident response processes for faster resolution
- Fraud analysis – Analyze transaction data to identify suspicious activities
- Identity and access management – Provision user access and privileges based on defined policies
According to research by EY, 78% of organizations are using RPA to enhance cybersecurity operations and compliance activities.
Proper governance and access controls for bots are critical for managing risks. RPA platforms need to incorporate security capabilities like:
- Access management to restrict bot permissions
- Encryption of sensitive data processed by bots
- Activity logging and audits trails
- Identity and access management integration
By implementing prudent security practices, you can leverage RPA both for automating operations as well as strengthening your cyber defenses.
Those were the 5 key RPA trends that I recommend keeping on your radar in 2023 based on extensive research and expert perspectives.
Here‘s a quick recap:
- Adopt an RPA Center of Excellence for strategy and governance
- Integrate RPA with AI and emerging technologies
- Evaluate outsourcing to specialized RPA MSPs
- Shift towards intelligent RPA to add AI capabilities
- Automate cybersecurity processes to manage risks
The Road Ahead
RPA is entering a new era of intelligent automation. Organizations need to start evaluating how these trends apply to their specific automation maturity and goals.
Here‘s what you can do next based on your RPA progress:
- Early stages – Start small with a pilot. Focus on change management and training.
- Scaling adoption – Consider developing a CoE. Explore MSP partners.
- Advanced automation – Evaluate capabilities for integrating AI and cybersecurity use cases.
I hope this guide provides a comprehensive outlook on the major RPA trends unfolding today. Please feel free to reach out if you need any help on your automation journey. Wishing you the very best!