With the release of Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for RPA (Robotic Process Automation), it becomes relevant to understand the trajectory of the market and the vendor evaluation criteria based on the ability to execute and completeness of vision.
Fragmentation has been observed in the RPA market despite the recent acquisitions by the major IT players such as Softomotive acquisition by Microsoft and the announcement of WDG Automation acquisition by IBM.
As per the Magic Quadrant, the four players in the Leaders quadrant (UiPath, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and WorkFusion) have demonstrated excellence on the execution and vision part; but the major players in the Visionaries and Niche Players quadrants will intensely change the competitive landscape in the near future.
The Leaders in the magic quadrant have got the Product Portfolio as their top strength as well as the big IT players in the Visionaries quadrant such as Microsoft.
It becomes critical to diligently select an RPA tool as many vendors in Visionaries and Niche Players quadrants are offering the similar set of features at a comparatively low-price model. The following are the important aspects or capabilities required which need to be kept in mind while considering an RPA vendor for adoption: –
- Scaling Capability– According to recent Forrester data, only 52% of enterprises that have launched RPA initiatives have progressed beyond their first 10 bots. It is very important to scale up your RPA infrastructure at the enterprise level and across all organization silos. Key steps involved in scaling RPA successfully are as follows: –
- Developing Clarity of purpose
- Integrated system with blend of technologies
- Collaboration between departments
- Focused and empowered team
- Low-code design capability– This capability helps in reducing the implementation time and allows in improving citizen developer’s productivity. The model-based automation approach helps in overcoming the changes in UIs (application user interfaces), data sources or business processes as it can automatically generate a visual model from an application’s interface. Moreover, if the application changes, it can simply update the model, and the software automatically propagates the changes to all impacted areas.
- Cloud enabled capability– RPA on cloud helps in implementing RPAaaS (RPA as a service) which provides the following advantages: –
- Flexible Pricing
- Low TCO (Total cost of ownership)
- High availability, scalability and security
- Reduces System down-time
- Quick ROI and benefits realization
- Integration with enterprise applications– Since RPA works at application’s UI layer, it integrates with the GUI and takes advantage of the screens underlying metadata. RPA can also help in extracting information from OCR documents for metadata creation.
- Capability to build unattended automation-The capability to build unattended automation is very crucial when the human involvement is to be minimized. Unattended automation have higher scalability and greater collaborative potential with multiple systems. It also helps in efficiently executing back-end processes and achieving end-to-end automation.
- AI and Cognitive capabilities– The capability of building intelligent automation to process unstructured datasets allows decision-making steps to be performed through the self-learning process. The customer would not like to invest in multiple tools as the maintenance becomes a challenge and, hence, the existence of integrated features of AI and ML solutions in the single tool becomes important. The cognitive capabilities allow robust solutions to be designed across evolving and enterprise-grade systems.
- Adaptability and Configuration– Script based configuration with recording of rule-based tasks will allow the adaptability in deployment and better configuration management.
- Storage and Security– The capability to store data and credentials in secure central repository (such as credentials vault or credential store) in an encrypted format and send data to bots via secured channels.
- Reusability– High reusability will help in reducing the time-to-market by leveraging pre-built bots to quickly automate tasks and processes across various departments. For example, the reusable Bot Store bots in Automation Anywhere provide following three key benefits:
- Faster development and deployment
- Reduced costs and higher ROI
- Extensible components by experienced RPA developers and partners
The above key considerations for RPA tool selection will always hold true irrespective of fragmentation in the market. This fragmentation is temporary and will be consolidated once the rebranding is done and integrated experience is offered. The product’s maturity is another key factor which will help in identifying the scaling ability along with the limitations in the product offering.
The evaluation criteria for automation potential and effort largely depends upon the nature of data (non-electronic Vs digital and electronic), nature of inputs (unstructured Vs structured and standard), types of steps (rule-based Vs decision-based), exception handling activities, the existence of virtual environments and frequency of changes in the underlying systems. We must keep in mind that RPA is a continuum that serves as a stepping stone to accelerate the digital transformation in an organization for improving the efficiency, diffusing agility, promoting cultural effectiveness and competency building.
Acknowledgments and References:
- Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Robotic Process Automation
Views expressed in this article are my own