At the beginning of 2021, most automation experts were predicting migration would be the biggest trend of the year ahead – more specifically, evaluating alternative RPA programs with the objective of migrating digital workforces to a single, centralized platform.
Here we are a year later and the big automation trend forecast for 2022 is…migration. Spurred by the success of those that already took the leap, more and more companies are expected to jump onto the migration bandwagon in the New Year in an effort to achieve the returns and scale originally promised by RPA.
Given how the RPA market has evolved, this makes perfect sense. To date, most companies are using multiple automation vendors because different lines of business within the same organization adopted and deployed RPA at different times. This has resulted in a siloed approach in which one department might have implemented the UiPath platform, for example, while another decided that Blue Prism was better suited to their specific needs.
The quest for an automation platform that provides specialized features has also prompted more vendors, each offering their own unique capabilities and benefits, to enter the RPA market. Today, the automation space is populated by some 60 RPA providers, ranging from first-generation mainstream players to smaller disruptors and nimble upstarts.
The wide range of options these providers offer has served to exacerbate the siloed approach to automation, creating several new challenges for users. The biggest of these challenges is the fact that RPA platforms are proprietary. The way a bot is developed in one platform isn’t the same as how it is developed in another, which contributes to disparate automation design practices and a lack of quality.
A siloed approach also means that visibility, control, governance, and change management are siloed. This translates into even greater inefficiencies, added effort, and higher costs.
These drawbacks – coupled with the length of time it takes many RPA platforms to deliver automated processes, constant break-fix cycles, and the inability to scale, which has produced an often underwhelming return on investment – have convinced many organizations that the time is right to migrate to a single automation platform.
Despite the presence of so many smaller RPA platforms, it is the four leading automation vendors – UiPath, Blue Prism, Automation Anywhere, and Microsoft Power Automate – that seem poised to take advantage of this trend in 2022.
All four platforms are packaging a constantly expanding range of features and capabilities into their offerings, including key pieces of the automation toolchain such as process discovery tools.
UiPath currently has the most available out of the box, including drag-and-drop bot creation on a graphical canvas, which allows for a more sequence-driven structure. UiPath also offers different best practice frameworks to design automations, such as the Robotic Enterprise Framework that provides a state-machine-based template to start building enterprise-grade automations.
Like UiPath, Blue Prism uses a graphical canvas. Blue Prism, though, follows a layered process and object model. All of the applications that are part of the automation are first modeled in the Object Studio. Once there, application actions and interactions are also defined. The process logic is then created in the Process Studio, where the automation logic is defined and calls to relevant actions are performed from the Process to Object Studio.
All of these platforms are simplifying the development and deployment of automated processes in an effort to make RPA more accessible to the average business user. Automation Anywhere, for example, was built to be very low-code/pseudo-code in order to appeal to those with little or no coding experience. The platform also runs in a linear, step-by-step fashion which ensures that sent commands are landing in the desired application.
The vendor making the most strides in this regard, though, is clearly Microsoft Power Automate, which boasts an intuitive user interface and a user-friendly drag-and-drop experience that enables users to quickly build attended bots. It also provides a myriad of supported connectors that accelerate a business user’s ability to build simple automations with an RPA and artificial intelligence workflow solution.
Adding more robust features and increased functionality to RPA platforms is also likely to accelerate the move to hyperautomation in 2022. With business leaders looking to move beyond simple, rule-based task automation and tackle more complete and complex business processes, RPA platforms that contain features that enable hyperautomation opportunities increasingly are being sought.
According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Robotic Process Automation, another dominant trend likely to emerge in the New Year will be consumption-based pricing, which will enable small- and medium-sized businesses to launch their own RPA efforts. Microsoft has already set the bar high in this regard by including its Power Automate platform as a free feature in Windows 10.
To come full circle, more competitive pricing models that can fit the specific needs of any business – such as pricing based on timed utilization of bots, free RPA components out of the box, or unlimited bots at a fixed price – will feed a growing desire to switch to a single, centralized RPA platform. For many organizations, this represents an alternative that better suits both their interests and their bottom line.
One thing is certain in 2022. More features, more functionality, and more frustration with their current situation will lead even more companies to migrate their digital workforces in an effort to fully leverage the advantages promised by RPA.
Tony Higgins is the Chief Product Officer at Blueprint Software Systems and is responsible for the vision and evolution of Blueprint’s Enterprise Automation Suite, a powerful digital process discovery, design and management solution that enables enterprise organizations to capture, identify, design, and manage high-value automations with speed and precision in order to scale the scope and impact of their RPA initiatives. Tony has a broad base of software delivery skills and experience ranging from start-ups to global enterprises, and is passionate about building technology that helps teams to rapidly optimize, automate, and digitally transform their organizations.
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