A continuation of the series with UiPath COO Guy Kirkwood, this post provides insights into the emergence of the robotic process automation (RPA) market. In addition, Guy discusses some of the potential intra-organizational difficulties that might initially arise when implementing RPA within your company.
Emerging RPA Markets
Where is the real activity happening at the moment? This, Guy proposes, is “with the BPO, pure play BPO, organizations in India and in other low cost locations that see the potential threat that comes from RPA driving a lot of their internal activity. We are only starting to see the start of that, but that will dramatically increase over time.”
“Ultimately, I think the US will be the biggest market, as it was for ERP and it is for outsourcing and has been for outsourcing for many years. But until that point, Europe is actually the vanguard.”
Guy explains that the market penetration is currently deepest in two areas:
- Within BPOs focused on reducing service line costs
- Within mature captives and global business service (GBS) organizations that have already acted to make their operations as efficient and cost effective as possible and see RPA as the next logical step.
RPA Vendor Selection
What about choosing a vendor? Guy suggests that it’s easier to automate more quickly with emerging, innovative RPA vendors than it is with their entrenched competitors: “If you look at the competitive landscape of the robotic process automation vendors, there are those organizations that have been around for some time and have been building their products iteratively, but they tend to be based on older technology which is more difficult to implement. The more modern robotic process automation vendors tend to be built on modern platforms and are therefore inherently more capable of being scaled more quickly.”
RPA and Complex Processes
As far as deployments are concerned in terms of RPA, Guy describes that most of the proofs of concept have mostly concerned the automation of simple, repeatable rules-driven processes, but that more complexity is inevitable: “As that develops and as the implementations become more widespread within organizations, we will see an increase in the complexity of those processes. What we're also seeing is that the smartest service providers are verticalizing their offerings, so focusing on those parts that weren't traditionally outsourced or in shared service operations.”
- Clinical trials for pharmaceutical businesses
- Mortgage processing for the banks
- Claims processing within the insurance market and so on
Because of RPA, these processes are able to be much more automated, giving companies “more time to talk to and interact with the customer which will drive margins up for the end user client and concomitantly drive up margins and profitability for the outsourcing service providers.”
RPA Implementation Challenges
What is needed in order to implement RPA successfully, and what challenges might your company face in the process? Organizational changes inevitably create unforeseen difficulties. Guy maintains that, when organizations have trouble making the switch to RPA, it “tends to revolve around their underestimation of the level of activity required within their own organization.”
Guy offers some helpful hints in this regard: “In the same way that outsourcing/BPO was originally set up twenty years ago, you need, in order to be successful, an executive sponsorship within the organization and the will within the organization to drive that activity forward. I see the use of existing methodologies as being able to facilitate or mitigate against that problem, principally around existing process improvement Lean Six Sigma/Kaizen projects.”
“If the smartest RPA organizations can capitalize on the existing process improvement activity within the organization, that will answer a lot of the capability questions that organizations have. Some Lean Six Sigma leadership would see the technology as a threat from their process improvement activity because it is all around the people and process improvement. The RPA providers need to persuade them that this is an adjunct to, an addition to their task to actually provide RPA that radically improves efficiency and decreases costs, and really drives the sort of activity that they have been seeking for the last five or six years.”
Coming next: In the third and final post of this series, Guy will address the evolution and future of RPA technology.