Here are some predictions for the enterprise automation sector:
Citizen developers will go back to the drawing board.
In 2019, Gartner predicted that 2020 would be the year of the citizen developer. The vision was that thanks to no-code or low-code software, anyone could become an RPA developer. But the hard, cold truth is that the movement was a failure. The average RPA user interface, or wizard, still requires considerable training to extract the most value. To make the citizen developer movement real in 2021, RPA vendors will have to start over on their user interfaces.
Covid-19 will expedite the momentum of front-end RPA adoption.
The fallout from the global pandemic has forced businesses to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives with a greater focus on customer-facing automation. Imagine a bank that would like to create an interface for its employees on a web page for a digital mortgage product. It’s possible to use RPA to automate the back-end processes involved with employee transactions and get it done in a matter of days. But it can still take months to develop a front-end user interface. In 2021, we will see more focus on low-code front-end design capabilities and tools that interact with RPA processes. I expect some RPA companies will go after the front-end RPA market.
The lines between attended and unattended automation will blur.
In the early days of enterprise automation, we saw a greater distinction between attended bots (those that require some user direction) and unattended automation, which runs complete workflows in the background. But in a few years, no one will be talking about them in separate terms. Even today, attended bots can run unattended ones through parallel processes and hybrid models. Looking at the story and the vision for RPA, the difference between the two will shrink, and eventually, we will see a proliferation of bots that will handle both. Vendors need to get a handle on this and master both to stay competitive.
The cloud will drive RPA adoption, solve scaling issues.
Here’s a hidden secret: Eventually, all organizations need to install bots on-premises to handle large-scale RPA deployments and integrate with their IT systems. It’s one of the major reasons why scaling is not happening at a high level yet, driven home by Covid-19 and the need for remote deployment. To get around this, RPA vendors will need to find ways to provide value much faster. By moving the delivery of RPA to the cloud, we will see more solutions to the scaling dilemma. RPA powered by the cloud or hosted as-a-service provides more auto-scaling solutions and can support bots on demand.
M&A in RPA will continue.
We’ve already seen that 2020 was a busy year in M&A activity in the RPA industry. Large IT companies, including Microsoft and IBM, scooped up innovative RPA startups to fill a gap in their solutions portfolio. Every month in 2021, we should expect either an M&A deal or VC investment in an RPA company.
Article author: Shay Antebi is the Chief Technology Officer of Kryon Systems