It’s been a bit since the halcyon days of 2017/2018 when RPA landed on the radar of analysts like Gartner, large Global Service Integrators(GSIs), and the rest of us that developed business models to serve the incoming demand for this technology. I credit UiPath for providing the marketing and vision to move RPA into the “mainstream”. Many will say those days are over and we have moved onto new technologies like ChatGPT and generative AI. What I will say is that RPA is yesterday’s news for those that are on the cutting edge. Frankly, those people are only interested in bleeding edge technology and are not interested in how well it gets implemented or supported. 10 years ago it was the “cloud”. 20 years ago it was “web services”. 30 years ago it was the “internet and web sites”. Each is a vital part of our ecosystem, but they didn’t come about quickly.
RPA is the same way. As I have said in the past, it’s been around for close to 40 years in some capacity. Technology and the platforms have come a long way. But the fact remains that the baseline technology has not been adopted at the scale that many had anticipated. My thought is while COVID may have moved the needle for some to adopt it, many were constrained by budgetary issues and eventually leadership turnover to really get it used. It delayed the adoption and didn’t move it along any faster, as had been the common narrative. At this point, most decision makers (i.e., CIO, CTO, COO, CEO, CFO) are aware of RPA to some degree but many haven’t pulled the trigger to really get it implemented.
Some of the inhibitors to RPA adoption include:
- C-Suite executives are old school. They have been burned too many times by new technologies that look good in a demo only to find themselves eft with massive amount of tech debt. They are mentally and financially exhausted chasing the carrot that never came to be.
- It’s unfamiliar and requires a leap of faith and trust that these “bots” can actually do the job. This correlates to point #1 to some degree.
- The board and the C-Suite are onboard but struggle to think about use cases that have ROI. The lack of trust both internally and externally makes it hard to strategize. Inhibitions about being able to stand up an internal Center of Excellence (COE) is another barrier to entry.
- The actual cost of licenses, implementation and ongoing support is too high compared to hiring people to do the same task.
- Finally, are there use cases that do EXACTLY what our company needs?
These are all valid questions and inhibitions. I believe they are coming from a place of uncertainty and fear. Both are common in the classic cycle of an early adopter. The group that thinks RPA is yesterday’s news would fall more in the innovator track in that they are constantly looking for the latest thing.
Uncertainty can lead to inaction, and it will eventually leave those that don’t move forward, behind. I have been in this space for 20+ years and I know how RPA can be successfully implemented and most importantly supported. Bots need to be managed either by a company like mine, CampTek Software, or a highly dedicated and agile internal COE. Support is absolutely crucial. Every bot should be developed to be supported. In addition, fully formed and mature use cases should be chosen before or during the automation journey. It’s important to understand where we are now, so we can move forward.
Written by Peter Camp, CTO & Founder, CampTek Software