The Robotic Process Automation (RPA) market will continue to undergo dramatic and rapid maturation in 2019, but RPA companies are finding themselves at a tipping point: They will either grow into their lofty market valuations or we will start to hear the hissing of a deflating bubble and warning signs of a ‘hype cycle’ crash.
By Chris Huff, CSO, Kofax
Over the last five years, RPA companies have focused on the ‘demand’ side of the equation; general market understanding of the business value and willingness of prospects to try RPA. Most would say the industry has succeeded on the demand side. But now RPA companies must shift focus to the ‘supply’ side of the equation; managing the demand by creating a supply of passionate and knowledgeable RPA leaders armed with capable software.
How will the RPA landscape shift in 2019?
- Enterprise customers will begin demanding more from RPA companies: No longer is it enough to do a one-off Proof of Concept (POC) demo to win business. Customers will require use cases that show a clear path to enterprise scalability and quantifiable results.
- Credentialing goes biometric: Leading RPA vendors are seeking to enhance security while improving the customer experience, so they are naturally looking to biometric authentication. Coupled with mobility and serverless computing (see point 4), biometric authentication provides a very powerful enterprise-secure RPA product.
- Regulatory compliance drives innovation: Yes, necessity is still the mother of innovation! Customers will increasingly look to RPA solutions that afford additional layers of auditability to satisfy regulatory requirements such as GDPR.
- Serverless Computing with RPA eliminates need for dedicated servers: With improved architecture and licensing models, leading RPA vendors will allow customers to run as many bots as they want, when they want, without having to plan for capacity.
- RPA prices will continue to decline: Competition, commoditization and more efficient licensing models such as consumption-based pricing will drive down prices while improving capacity usage levels for customers.
- Large software companies continue to acquire RPA capability: The recent SAP acquisition of Contextor continues the trend of large software companies wrapping in RPA to lower total cost of ownership by providing more automation capabilities out of the box. RPA companies that have built niche market plays around larger software applications will need to be nimble.
- RPA products will continue to focus on unstructured data: Vendors will align with the macro shift of moving from data collection to data analysis, which will drive a focus on Cognitive Capture, NLP and AI algorithms to transform unstructured data into structured data that can be scored and delivered back to the enterprise to support improved decision-making.
- Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) providers will start to openly embrace RPA: To retain work otherwise at risk of being re-shored, BPOs will align as partners with RPA vendors as both a consumer and reseller.
- Companies begin to create formal RPA roles: RPA at scale requires new roles such as Bot Trainer, Bot Developer and RPA Manager, largely filled with existing employees who have been upskilled. Companies will also begin to market their automation programs in recruiting efforts to attract talent.
- 5G rollout allows more data on mobile devices: This promotes greater mobility, which translates into leading RPA vendors developing Mobile Software Development Kits (SDKs) that allow customers to interact with and manage RPA bots from anywhere.