Technology based innovation is transforming the world around us at a rapid pace. Digital technologies are adding the much-needed ‘impetus’ to the Fourth Industrial Revolution by making the overall transactions more seamless, automated, productive and efficient. All businesses need to be mindful of this new-found agility and efficacy in order to navigate through today’s competitive market. Leveraging these cutting-edge technologies in ways in which business profitability is enhanced, will be vital to sustain in the age of digital transformation.
Here is a quick summary of key trends that are expected to rule the technology sector in 2020 which will help us in staying on top of our game in the digital age and will pave way for our future business growth:
Trend 1: Scalability will be the biggest focus area
The role of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is evolving continuously at a faster pace. Enterprises and providers need to work towards scaling and move beyond the ‘islands of BOTs’ scattered across organizations. RPA as a technology has proven itself across a widespread enterprise base ranging from pilots to full deployment. Various industry reports suggest that more than 80% of organizations today are struggling to scale. The challenge is to move beyond the initial 5-10 BOTs to e2e (end-to-end) process automation by fixing process fragmentation and uniting the workforce to achieve RPA at scale.
We are already seeing efforts to address the scaling issue from product vendors, system integrator and customers. Year 2020 will witness the emergence of new products, business and delivery models.
Trend 2: Market consolidation which will extend to 2021
With increase and intense competition, service providers are continuously enhancing consulting, advisory and training services as it helps the user in reducing costs and increase scalability. While RPA will continue to take centerstage, product vendors will augment their pure-play rule driven RPA to include Artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytical skills to build Cognitive RPA or Intelligent automation capabilities. The market is getting very competitive and we will only see fewer players survive the juggernaut. We will see consolidation across three fronts:-
- Products behemoths acquiring smaller players to augment their existing portfolio like SAP buying Contextor or Pega buying Openspan
- RPA productive vendors acquiring AI skills to enhance their portfolio like BluePrism buying Thoughtonomy or Uipath acquiring ProcessGold
- System integrators acquiring skills from companies which can help scale like Cognizant acquiring TriZetto for healthcare automation
Trend 3: Triple A – the Trifecta of Automation, AI and Analytics coming to bear
RPA is the gateway to other automation and AI technologies to overcome challenges posed by changing market demands and customer requirements.
Increasing demand for Business Process Automation through the use of Artificial Intelligence and software BOTs is anticipated to be the key growth driver for 30+ % CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) on RPA and associated services. Market will see value in intelligent automation and will accordingly invest in suitable use cases.
RPA solutions do not completely eliminate the need for enterprise application integration. They facilitate complicated, legacy systems to interact more fluidly.
We will see more and more discussions around intelligent automation and most importantly, combination of Chatbot+RPA, AI+RPA etc. There will be specific sectors/business functions, which will heavily benefit from these combinations of technologies such as – IT Operations, Contact Centers, Service Desk etc.
Trend 4: Cloud Adoption
Cloud native digital workforce deployments will find more and more demand offering scale, instant use and intelligent automation for any process/business on any device. This would be driven not only on BOT orchestration and centralized robot dashboard management for RPA but also for AI lifecycle management platforms like Tech Mahindra’s GAiA for Build, Manage, Test, Deploy and Operate data models. In essence, adoption would be for both Cloud Hosting and Platform as a service (PaaS).
Automation vendors have already started moving entirely or partly to cloud in order to reduce cost, bring agility and most importantly create an ecosystem to consume the power of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) skills provided by cloud providers like Azure, AWS etc.
Trend 5: Citizen Developer
This will allow creation of AI-based algorithms more accessible to non-specialists. As an enterprise, implementing RPA is a tedious, time-taking process. Enterprises need to train their personnel or hire/outsource resources to program RPA tools, which leads to long programming and debugging phases. The communication gap between developers and end-users further exacerbates the issue.
Enterprises are now envisioning to empower each of their associates to build RPA processes on their own. Associates – called Citizen Developers, with little to no knowledge of coding, should be able to automate their own tasks. To meet such demands, RPA vendors are now creating employee-driven, no-code RPA tools, where-in RPA processes could be built through simple drag-and-drop.
(Disclaimer: The author is the Global Head, Business Development – Platforms at Tech Mahindra and the views expressed herein are his own)