It will be fascinating to see how 2020 is viewed through the lens of history. It has been a tremendously challenging year. The health crisis has not only upended economies and everyday lives, it has also changed our world view. As millions were forced to work from home, we had no choice but to confront workflow and productivity issues in ways we never have before.
Now, as we transition slowly back to a new normal, executives and employees face fundamental questions about the future. How can we increase productivity? What processes should be automated for more efficiency and accuracy? Do we need to be in an office sitting next to coworkers to be most effective? No matter what short- and long-term changes we see in 2021 and beyond, the need to give more value to customers and drive more profitability is constant.
In many ways, the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation. A new study by McKinsey & Co. estimates that digital transformation has advanced the equivalent of seven years over the last ten months. To me, this indicates that the technology and budgets have always been there to make the necessary changes, but the will to change wasn’t there until companies were forced into it.
At its core, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) complements, not replaces, human efforts. Human ingenuity is not only the glue that holds any company together, it’s what drives constant innovation and progress. RPA is not a job replacer; rather, it is a powerful conduit for worker freedom. When employees are freed from repetitive, error-prone tasks, they can contribute in more valuable ways. So, if digital transformation can leapfrog us seven years into the future, what can we expect from RPA in the next year? Here are a few trends we’re tracking here at Kryon.
Cloud Delivery of RPA Will Supercharge Adoption
The lack of in-person activity in 2020 forced so much to go virtual, and a few forward-thinking RPA vendors responded to this structural change by moving delivery to the cloud. Today, with AWS (Amazon Web Services), it’s possible to purchase more servers for greater capacity and configure those servers on the cloud. Kryon’s Full-Cycle Automation-as-a-Service platform was founded with this in mind, allowing organizations to identify processes, and develop, implement, optimize, and analyze automation behind the scenes.
Most importantly, businesses need to be up and running with this capability in days or hours, not months. For RPA to truly catch on in the enterprise, companies need to see a faster ROI. The cloud will help achieve this. There will be more and more movement toward SaaS solutions. Companies must also be able to measure automation results, tie them to value, and understand the impact.
Cloud deployment requires less complex implementation with easier, more intuitive tools and user interfaces. If RPA providers succeed in simplifying deployment and successfully moving RPA delivery to the cloud, it will go a long way to solving the scaling dilemma. RPA powered by the cloud or hosted as-a-service provides more auto-scaling solutions and supports bots on demand because they are now cloud-native solutions.
Smaller Companies Will Join the RPA Sandbox
Another fundamental change on the horizon for 2021 is RPA adoption moving from primarily large enterprises and specific verticals to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). RPA’s market maturation is democratizing automation and gaining the attention of smaller enterprises that recognize the potential to capture a competitive advantage and increase productivity and thereby profits.
But RPA vendors must be agile to adapt their technologies for ease-of-use by SMEs. Solutions must be simple enough for any business user to implement all stages of process automation – from process discovery through to bot creation and implementation. SMEs don’t have the time, the need, or the capability to invest and transform entire processes. They can deploy and scale incrementally and realize tremendous benefits as they do.
It’s my hope that 2021 will see the RPA industry and those we serve finally have the tools we need to solve the problem of scale. The predictions discussed here-a move to the cloud and SaaS solutions, and less complex interfaces and deployment-will help companies of all sizes scale more easily. These two developments will also pave the way to greater citizen-led development and low-code/no-code automation. This could be a powerful force in expanding automation for all companies, large and small. As is often the case, it takes several levers working in unison to effect real change. Human and digital workforces will increasingly work in complementary ways for benefits far beyond bottom-line profits. Despite a truly difficult year on so many levels, there is much reason for optimism.