What CIOs need to know about RPA in IT operations

There has been a surge in the adoption of robotic process automation over the past year, but the numbers also showed that the use of RPA is not evenly distributed across the company.

A 2020 survey conducted by Forrester on behalf of RPA provider UiPath found that companies are increasingly adopting RPA and intelligent automation technologies in response to business pressures caused by pandemics. Almost half of the respondents stated that they plan to increase their automation investments in the coming year in order to increase agility, resilience and efficiency.

However, according to researchers and business consultants, most RPA investments are made in less strategic IT operations areas.

“IT operations make up a very small fraction – about 4% – of the RPA market, and the most important use cases are mostly at the IT service desk,” said Amardeep Modi, practice manager at consultancy and research firm Everest Group.

That said, CIOs shouldn’t depreciate the value of RPA in IT operations, especially to eliminate inefficient, time-consuming tasks associated with legacy systems like ERP that don’t have the embedded automation and smart features that are found in more modern applications .

RPA is a perfect way to solve problems when you haven’t gotten to the point where you can safely or timely phase out certain legacy systems,” said Kevin Martelon, process consultant and automation partnership manager at Saggezza , a global IT consulting company.

Martelon pointed to a recent RPA deployment that he helped a modular storage company deploy. In this case, the field workers use tablets to evaluate returned rental units. However, the collected data is sent and stored in a legacy application. That data is then extracted, encoded, and sent to a financial system – a task that IT did manually until bots were deployed for extraction and recoding.

The company may need to modernize the legacy system, but in the meantime, RPA bridges the gap to a future state and saves hundreds of hours of manual labor, Martelon explained, demonstrating the value of RPA in IT operations.

Maturity is important

CIOs have different ways of using RPA in their own departmental operations, depending on where they are on their digital transformation journey, said Cathy Tornbohm, analyst at Gartner.

While some may already be using automation technologies built into modern applications to support help desk operations, those with older help desk systems have more options to use a dedicated RPA tool.

Advantages of automation in IT operations

This is the case across IT operations, Tornbohm said, adding that CIOs are most likely only deploying RPA where legacy systems are still in use and therefore embedded automation or APIs are not available.

According to IT consultants, a number of CIOs find themselves in this situation, be it because they are still in the early or mid-stage of digital transformation or because they are working in established companies with legacy systems that are more difficult to use due to their size and size replace are complexity of operations.

Karthik Ranganathan, Chief Enterprise Architect at NTT DATA Services, an IT service management company, listed a number of areas where CIOs could benefit from automation, including:

  • Password is being reset
  • User onboarding and offboarding, notifications, changes, and similar user-centric activities
  • Software installation
  • Validation of software authorizations
  • Self-sufficiency, shutdown and changes
  • UX monitoring
  • Backup and patch management

RPA technology offers the same list of IT operations deployment benefits that are typically found in automating manual, repetitive tasks on the corporate side. Protiviti’s 2019 Global RPA Survey found that companies in various industries reported increased productivity, better quality, higher speed, improved compliance, fewer errors, and lower costs than typical benefits of RPA deployments.

“For an IT organization with mature processes, RPA can bring immediate time and cost advantages,” said Salil Godika, Chief Operating Officer at Synoptek, an IT consulting and managed service provider.

Challenges of RPA in IT operations

There are a number of hurdles to overcome when implementing RPA in IT operations. According to Martelon, CIOs often face the same challenges when implementing RPA in their own departments as they are when using automation technology on the business side.

For example, like their corporate colleagues, technicians may not want to identify or implement RPA quickly because they fear that automation could put their jobs at risk. Or CIOs may struggle to raise funding because other C-suite executives within the organization still view IT as a cost center and therefore don’t view automation investments as a spending priority, Martelon said.

There are also potential barriers to implementing RPA technology and optimizing its benefits.

“Once organizations have mastered the initial challenges of choosing the right processes to automate and manage [overcome] With the resistance of the employees, nuanced challenges such as lack of process standardization, lack of internal talent to move the project forward, IT security concerns, existing challenges of the IT infrastructure and scalability of the project can be taken into account, “said Godika.

Include RPA in the overall automation strategy

Consultants suggest that business leaders incorporate RPA into IT operations as part of a broader automation strategy. “It’s a necessary part of an automation journey,” said Martelon.

He and others said RPA is a useful technology, but CIOs should evaluate whether automating a function with RPA is the way to go, or whether to modernize systems and move to intelligent automation and hyper-automation – which are now considered future trends – better are possibility.

For example, Tornbohm said that CIOs who want to use RPA to automate tasks through the multiple password reset tools that are still in use in their IT operations may find that upgrading to a modern platform with automation and intelligence capabilities will do better Results.

However, she acknowledged that CIOs may not be ready to modernize some systems as quickly as they want. This makes RPA the current option to get some IT operations benefits until they can upgrade to a more modern setup in the future.

“If you need something that will be ready very quickly, that is multi-application, and rule-based, RPA might be the right tool for that problem,” she said.

April 1, 2021