Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Is It Recession Proof?

Robotic process automation concept with hand pressing a button on a technology screen

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A recession seems all but inevitable as stocks plummeted to bear market levels. Still, there are certain industries that could be isolated. There are also likely to be lasting changes in consumer and business behavior.

Undoubtedly, it seems that video conferencing and remote working are becoming mainstream. But there are other corners of the tech industry that might be ready for transformation. One of them is Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

RPA can help a company save money by automating all of the repetitive tasks a human does with a keyboard and mouse, as well as tasks in legacy systems that are inaccessible through APIs and web services,” said Vadim Tabakman , Director of Technical Evangelism at Nintex. “RPA bots accelerate ‘low-hanging fruit’ processes in every company such as opening e-mails and attachments, filling out forms, reading and writing in databases, performing calculations, collecting social media Statistics and extracting data from documents. , everything very quickly. “

Such skills will likely be vital when businesses struggle. If anything, the introduction of RPA could give a dramatic boost.

“The RPA industry is currently at a turning point because efficiency, accuracy, and most importantly, maximizing the human intellect are critical to survival and growth,” said Kyle Kim-Hays, CMO of Softomotive. “In particular, RPA will increasingly move from ‘back office’ and IT-focused tasks to ‘front office’ and supervised use cases where business end-users call up and monitor automated tasks directly. So RPA is being democratized as more and more people are integrating it into their daily activities. “

But RPA isn’t just about efficiency. It can help improve the customer experience, which is essential for maintaining revenue. “Current Automation Anywhere customers are already increasing their investments to increase ROI and potentially hedge against a declining economy,” said Prince Kohli, CTO of Automation Anywhere.

Pat Geary, the chief evangelist at Blue Prism, agrees. “As long as economic uncertainty is high and companies are under even greater pressure to maintain profits at no cost, RPA providers will be successful. We provide the operational agility to do more with less through automation. When companies can automate manual processes at scale, they can redeploy people and focus on more strategic business initiatives that will help them weather the storm that may come. “

RPA the right way

As with any technology, RPA is not a panacea. It certainly has its drawbacks, such as high license costs and difficulties with scaling. Successful implementations also require a strong focus on change management in the company.

“We hear from our customers that RPA / Digital Workforce offers some significant downturn benefits, many of which have little to do with actual technology,” said Tim Kulp, vice president of innovation & strategy, Mind Over Machines. “The process of creating a bot requires detailed process documentation that gives people the opportunity to see ‘business as usual’ with new eyes and avoid waste.”

Tom Thaler, Senior Product Manager for ARIS at Software AG, sees the danger with RPA of only showing short-term results. For this reason, he recommends a comprehensive strategy that includes:

  • Capture impact: “Companies that use RPA successfully start with a top-down assessment of automation candidates. They have a clear understanding of their ambitions and know how to predict and capture the effects. The focus is no longer on simple back office processes, but is increasingly shifting towards core competencies and customer relevance. Process mining tools make it easier to identify automation options based on the correct relevance criteria, but also provide the knowledge for a subsequent evaluation of the successes. “
  • Manage complexity: “A holistic automation approach makes consistent use cases available for automation. This requires a specialized team at its core – a Center of Excellence (CoE). These competence teams act as enablers for the business and manage the complexity of the robotic process landscape. Following a structured approach, they provide new insights that are used for continuous process improvement initiatives. This is addressed by tools for corporate business process analysis (EBPA). “

Survival of the fittest?

In recessions, CEOs generally prefer technology from companies with strong balance sheets and broad-based solutions. And that’s likely to be the case with RPA. So yes, Microsoft should do pretty well, especially since it was trend-setting with its own automation platform.

Then there are medium-sized operators like Appian that should gain traction. Existing for over 20 years, the company has a high level of cash on hand, is publicly traded and has a full suite of automation applications.

“We’re a one-stop shop for the modern workforce,” said Matt Calkins, company CEO. “While RPA is a pretty good option for efficiency, it still doesn’t handle exceptions well. That’s why you need an integrated solution, for example with business process management, workflow, AI and case management. “

Keep in mind that the company announced a ton of new features this week, including:

  • Full-stack automation that orchestrates workflows for humans, bots, and AI.
  • Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), a turnkey document understanding system based on AI.
  • Governance that provides more control over all of the company’s automation technologies.
  • DevSecOps to test, package, and deploy apps much faster.

In other words, RPA needs to go beyond just task automation. There has to be a broader approach.

“The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is revolutionizing every industry, but it is also a great opportunity to meet these needs – by leveraging new technologies from data and analytics to RPA,” said Mohamed Kande, vice chairman of PwC , USA and Global Consulting Leader. “4IR investments can help companies weather any downturn while positioning them to emerge stronger. And business leaders agree. According to a recent survey we conducted, 63% of business leaders believed that 4IR technologies will protect against an economic downturn. “

Tom (@ttaulli) is the author of Artificial Intelligence Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction and The Robotic Process Automation Handbook: A Guide to Implementing RPA Systems.

July 20, 2021