- Robotic process automation (RPA) represents the key component of intelligent automation solutions which will support DevOps and app modernization efforts in the coming year.
- Emerging factors including process mining/task mining, low-code app platforms, API integration, test automation, intelligent document processing, and attended automation capabilities promise to fast-track the technology into enterprises’ digitization strategies.
The pandemic brought to the forefront the importance of intelligent automation and robotics advancements for addressing a changing global workforce, turning traditional business processes into workflow automations to vastly improve the customer experience. The result will be a new workforce represented by RPA’s replacement of repetitive and mundane jobs, alongside new high-touch, high-productivity opportunities fulfilled by humans. Robotics’ core heritage has always been RPA, but additional factors including process mining/task mining, low-code app platforms, API integration, test automation, intelligent document processing, and attended automation capabilities are coming to light and promise to fast-track the technology into enterprises’ digitization strategies.
RPA is software in the form of robots or bots conducting repetitive and routine business processes, similar to a human interaction within a UI and a set of specific rules. The idea is to speed workflows, improve efficiencies, enhance customer service, and support a more comprehensive automation strategy. The emerging technology represents an increasingly significant component of a DevOps model for achieving transformations while reserving the human touch for more important tasks. RPA, which has grown exponentially in recent years, is typically configured as a component of intelligent automation, enhanced through artificial intelligence/machine learning/natural language processing (AI/ML/NLP), low-code tools, and business process management. Recent trends triggered by the pandemic, including workforce and technologist shortages and business processes inefficiencies, have aligned in recent years to make RPA a high-demand component of the IT operations agenda.
RPA is now becoming increasingly embedded into application platforms, BPM systems, and other digital transformation tools and services aimed at simplifying UIs and providing predictable interactions through rule-based systems between processes and IT apps. As a result, numerous RPA acquisitions and partnerships have taken place over the past year among cloud and platforms giants quick to fill out automation portfolios, including IBM’s acquisition of WDG, Microsoft’s acquisition of Softomotive, and Salesforce’s acquisition of Servicetrace to name a few.
RPA’s most significant achievement has been to leverage AI to better understand the actions of users and enhance the user experience (UX). This powerful combination of RPA and AI brings about a new form of cognitive technology that is evolving in order to act based on human attributes such as judgement and problem solving.
Of those trends surrounding automation and RPA, process mining is certainly the most noteworthy in its ability to provide analysis of operational processes of event logs and then reflect that event data into actionable insights. This functionality goes a long way in helping to launch RPA by identifying the most appropriate automation opportunities. In a nutshell, process mining helps operations identify hot spots where employee efforts are being wasted and/or processes are operating inefficiently and need reengineering. Once identified, ops can build a digital twin of the environment (simulated with RPA), determine the ROI, and proceed with approval and rollout of robotics solutions based on the results.
Please see “RPA Leads the Charge for Intelligent Automation and Process Mining” (December 22, 2021) for more details on key trends bringing RPA to the DevOps model’s forefront, including process mining’s growing role, a state of the market around primary RPA providers (including ecosystem partnerships and acquisitions), and a working definition and notable statistics on enterprises’ plans for RPA integration.