A sneak peek at my (Guy Kirkwood’s) top predictions for 2021 and what lies ahead in the RPA, AI, and automation industry.
1. RPA will become the new ERP
I predict that the community of global system integrators (GSIs) and audit-based consulting companies will encourage and train thousands of workers to embrace automation. And that GSIs will do so in the same way they did with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software in the 1990s.
2. Centers of excellence (CoEs) will become profit centers
This prediction represents a major shift: in 2021, companies will begin to see that automation operations not only help them save money but can serve as a revenue-generation platform to create new revenue streams.
3. We’ll focus on bridging islands of automation
I predict that the industry will turn its attention to robot resilience in 2021. More specifically, RPA vendors will have to help their customers avoid creating separate islands of automation operations that can become dysfunctional, hard to maintain, and extremely expensive over time. In my presentation, I’ll also describe how a focus on business process management can overcome these challenges.
4. We’ll start to rely on work-from-home robots
UiPath has a vision of ‘a robot for every person.’ I see that vision becoming a reality in the near future and every person will have their own robot (or digital assistant). I predict the RPA market will adjust to support this continued shift to remote working models.
5. The employee experience will become as important as customer experience
Why is this? Take the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19 pandemic as an example. So many employees suffer increased anxiety and concern related to the recession and what it will mean for them and their families. The entire automation market must address this with operations and processes that help improve the employee experience—critical for increasing morale, engagement, and productivity.
6. RPA will become more transformational
Have you noticed that “digital transformation” is a business buzzword? I believe that this is because the vast majority of digital transformation efforts in general—and automation in particular—are still too tactical in nature.
Yet I’m also confident that 2021 will be the year where companies will begin to make substantial changes to operating models across the board. As they do, they will begin to truly achieve the potential of digital transformation. I’m excited to see how RPA can influence these changes in the year ahead.