Robotic Process Automation (RPA), the Next Big Thing in Automation?

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Written By Nipun Singh

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A McKinsey Global Survey on Automation 2020 found that 66% of organizations had automated at least one function or business unit, compared to 57% in 2018. The number of organizations that have implemented automation has increased.

Alain Dehaze is the CEO of Adecco. He stated, "Warp speed technology developments -- automation, artificial intelligence, and the arrival of the sharing economy -- have transformed how we work."

Technology is not the only factor that disrupts traditional work patterns. Organizational and social changes are also causing disruptions in workforce management and society. This has led to a dispersed and more autonomous workforce.

Evolution of Automation

Automation is achieved when technology is applied to automate repetitive manual tasks. Here are some examples of enterprise automation

  1. Automated Early Warning Systems - monitors process variables in factories and provides automated alerts.
  2. Purchase order automation - based on inventory levels, trigger approval workflows and send the order to the vendor directly after approval.
  3. Automated lead management - enter lead information into CRM systems and auto-assign leads for sales. Notify via email.
  4. Customer Service Automation - Manage, track, and reply to customer support tickets.
  5. Employee Services Automation - enables you to trigger workflows for approval of various employee requests.

Why Companies Are Investing In Automation?

The "Great Resignation", shows no signs of slowing down. Microsoft's Annual Work Trend Index Report2022 found that 52% (Gen Z and Millennials) are likely to change employers this year, an increase of 3% over the previous year. "63%" of frontline workers are enthusiastic about the opportunities that tech offers, and technology ranks third in the list of factors workers believe could reduce stress at work.

Companies that have invested in automation have seen tangible benefits over the past few years.

  • Productivity increases
  • More efficient processes
  • Quicker turnaround
  • Better employee engagement

Take the case of Lubrizol a global specialty chemical company that implemented a lab automation system. Their labs had difficulty monitoring isotherms before the implementation. Scientists had to be alert for temperature rise, which was time-consuming and stressful. Automation helped reduce stress and eliminate human errors. It also improved productivity.

Understanding Process Automation

Automated Tasks

Automating data entry can make task automation as easy as automating data entry. Combining task automation with a Business Rules Engine gives you the ability to create automated workflows.

An employee might send an email asking for help installing software. The tracking system automatically creates a support ticket. The system assigns a support representative and sends an email notification. The system sends an email confirmation to the employee after the support executive has closed the ticket.

Automate your Workflow

Although workflow automation can be used to automate repeatable steps in completing a task, process Automation has a greater goal. It involves multiple tasks and workflows that are combined to increase efficiency.

HR Process Automation

ADP Workforce Now and Ceridian Dayforce are examples of HR Process Automation software. Oracle Cloud HCM uses process automation to provide end-to-end HR management capabilities.

These platforms allow for automated payroll processing, HR administration, and vacation tracking. They also enable expense reimbursements.

Similar tools and platforms, such as Adobe Marketo and HubSpot, Salesforce Pardot, and Active Campaign, allow marketers to create automated marketing campaigns that increase customer engagement through the entire customer lifecycle.

Rise of Artificial Intelligence & Big Data Analytics

Before we get into how Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning can help companies implement intelligent automation it is worth recalling what Alan Turing said.

"A computer is intelligent if it can fool a human into believing that it is human"

The search for artificial intelligence started with The Imitation Game. This game questioned whether machines could think. AI now learns from past data to predict future values.

Machine learning and big data share a similar growth path as they are both dependent on one another.

Robotic process automation -- The Confluence between Automation and AI

Robotic Process Automation (RPA), is simply the creation and deployment of software robots that replicate human actions on a computer.

The following are the results of RPA adoption according to a Deloitte Global RPA Survey:

  1. Improved Compliance (92%)
  2. Higher Quality and Accuracy (90%)
  3. Enhanced Productivity (86%)
  4. Cost Reduction (59%)

A recent Forrester research report found that there are more than 200 companies offering RPA and Intelligent Automation (IA). $22 Billion is the market for RPA solutions by 2025, according to Forrester research.

UiPath's management team, a leader in RPA software, presented two case studies of RPA customers on a conference call.

Case No. 1: A global financial services and insurance company

Case No. 1. A global insurance and financial services company identified intelligent automation as a way to reduce costs by $100 million by 2025. Their automation strategy

  1. AI-Document Processing
  2. Deep Learning and Machine Learning
  3. Software Automated Testing
  4. Development of the Citizen No-Code or Low-Code

Case No 2: Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX)

Case 2: Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX) is a supply chain network that uses cloud technology to connect 4100+ hospitals and more than 600+ global suppliers. GHX automation roadmap includes:

  1. Large Scale Document Conversion using AI Document Processing
  2. Image identification and processing using AI-Computer Vision
  3. Development of the Citizen No-Code or Low-Code

The Robotic Process Automation Ecosystem

UiPath's IPO was a seismic shift in the RPA industry. Large companies like SAP, Salesforce MuleSoft and SS&C are now pursuing organic growth by acquiring smaller RPA companies.

  1. SAP acquired Signavio in 2021. Ignazio is a process analytics company that assists customers to align their internal processes based on customer experience.
  2. Salesforce purchased Servicetrace last year, an intelligent software robots company.
  3. SS&C, an intelligent automation services company, has completed the acquisition of Blue Prism, a top provider of RPA solutions.

Accenture and IBM, two of the world's largest IT companies, are content to serve as system integrators or resellers of RPA software for their customers.

The Path Ahead for RPA:

The Way AheadDeloitte RPA Survey also shows that 78% of companies who have used RPA Bots for automation of a few processes will increase their RPA spending in the coming years.

This survey asks the important question: Why is it so difficult for organizations that have successfully implemented RPA to scale up their digital workforce?

Business Process Modeling:

To implement intelligent automation at an enterprise scale, it is necessary to model and identify all processes within an organization. BPM uses flowcharts to visually represent workflows and processes.

RPA for Cloud:

Automation anywhere commissioned a study called " Next: the State of RPA" to find out that one in four companies has successfully implemented intelligent automation. They use RPA bots to scale their digital workforce and run them on the cloud.


UiPath offers integration capabilities with niche RPA products such as Myndshft (automated benefits, insurance management), AirSlate, and Document Workflows Automation.

Citizen Development:

No-code development allows business users to drag and drop elements from templates into programs that automate tasks. Automated Testing and Citizen Development will allow organizations to scale their digital workforce without relying on testers and coders.

Accessible Hyper Automation -- The Future Of RPA

RPA bots were able to work with structured data in the past. Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) is a component in Hyper Automation. It combines Optical Character Recognition and Machine Learning (ML). This allows for the reading and understanding of unstructured documents like printed forms.

Voice Automation and Cognitive Text

Cognitive Text and Voice Automation uses Natural Language Processing and Speech Recognition in order to imitate human interactions. Automated workflows or approvals can be initiated from unstructured data, such as chat messages from customers or employees.

Robotic data automation (RDA)

Gartner identified data complexity and volume as the biggest challenges to companies' digital transformation goals in 2019. Robotic Data Automation automates data operations (DataOps), and workflows related to data collection, contextualization, and statistical analysis. RDA is what RPA is to tasks and workflows.


UiPath, Automation Anywhere, and Automation Anywhere help customers track time-to-value (TTV) in order to measure the RPA solution's time to deliver tangible benefits like the faster resolution of service tickets, reduced error and quicker approvals.

RPA-as-a-Service cuts down on the time it takes to buy and implement a bot solution framework within an organization. Cloud RPA is similar to other SaaS offerings. It eliminates the need for IT infrastructure.


Automation is moving forward toward a no-code Robotic Process Automation Platform that will allow citizen developers to build and integrate bots into enterprise apps like SAP, Salesforce, and Microsoft 365.

RPA solution architects will be able to create more advanced bots that automate all processes in an organization through developments in Process Modelling, Automated Testing, and Machine Learning.

A successful intelligent automation program should help employees do high-value, added activities.

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