The tide of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) was approaching us fast.
Then, the pandemic happened.
Now, the tide is approaching even faster.
In the wake of the pandemic, the transition from partial digital transformation to full digital transformation is expected to accelerate at an extraordinary pace.
Already, most executives strongly believe that businesses must complement their manual workforce with RPA solutions such as automation robots or digital assistants. The quick adoption of business intelligence solutions, they believe, will separate the best from the rest in the post-COVID world.
Unsurprisingly, even during times of such staggering economic uncertainty, the market for RPA consultancy is expected to rise by 20% — an increase of roughly $1.8 billion. The market is convinced that this is the future of work.
And 2021 might lay the foundation for that future.
It’s a truly exciting time for businesses making breakthroughs in RPA innovation and businesses looking forward to making full use of those innovations.
Here’s what to expect.
1. More intelligent RPA
Today, RPA might seem incredibly capable. But its capabilities are nowhere near its full potential, that is, emulating the full range of human actions.
RPA has enabled a large number of industries to become intelligent, automating processes. However, many of these processes are fairly simple. In other words, RPA’s scope of intelligence is still limited to basic, repetitive tasks.
Starting 2021, though, we expect to see innovations in RPA technology that will take its capabilities to the next level.
While we certainly don’t expect to see a fully flourishing AI capable of end-to-end automation, it’s fair to expect innovations that are capable of handling more complex tasks. In other words — a much wider scope.
So, while RPA software can store and update data very capably today, soon, it should go a step ahead and manipulate it in real-time as well.
Say hello to next-gen risk management and competitor analysis.
2. ERP, but better. Much better.
RPA will bring in 2021 what Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) brought in the 90s — a revolution.
ERP is ubiquitous today. In fact, it’s so common and deeply embedded in our workflows that we tend to take it for granted. Whether it’s scheduling your calendar or managing a supply chain, ERP made our lives easier. Faster.
In 2021, RPA won’t just emulate its success — it will transcend it. Beyond recognition.
The major difference between RPA and ERP is that while ERP is an intelligent planning solution that allows us to work smarter, RPA, on the other hand, may take us out of the equation altogether, doing the smart work as well.
Yes, as we explained above. A more capable RPA won’t just collect, store, or manage data — tasks ERP excels at already — but it will also process, analyze, and manipulate data, even in real-time.
To take our examples, RPA will not just schedule emails, it will also probably write them. It won’t just manage the core supply chain, but also probably find much better, more optimized ways to do it.
Forget automation. This is modern automation.
And we thought life couldn’t be easier. Faster.
3. A new generation of skills
RPA services and business intelligence solutions are expected to be in spectacular demand. Logically, so will be skills related to them.
Just as coding became central to the previous generation’s syllabus, data literacy will take centre stage today. It must.
It must because the world will be run by data-powered technologies. Initially, RPA. Eventually, AI.
This year, therefore, we will witness a sharp increase in the demand for the modern workforce — new hires skilled and experienced in data management and manipulation, data analysis, data security, algorithm development and optimization, and a dozen of other skills necessary to stay ahead of the curve.
In fact, it’s already happening. Nearly half of today’s executives are already prioritizing these skills over others when they consider new hires.
Working smart will have a whole new meaning.
Though that’s not the full story.
Other qualities like interpersonal skills and communication and creativity and problem-solving will still be in demand. Good team management and bad communication are mutually exclusive.
They just won’t be enough.
4. Digital transformation en masse
If it hasn’t happened already — the transformation, the revolution, would occur en masse.
In 2021, we will witness the adoption of RPA across most industries — not just banking and finance.
The transformation might not be fully scaled across a business, spanning all verticals and processes, but it will certainly affect at least one sector, say, the back office.
Already, manufacturing, insurance, media and entertainment, retail, hospitality, healthcare and you-name-it have begun to gradually introduce their workflows to automation. Soon, they are expected to be completely streamlined. In other words — no more paperwork.
The adoption en masse has two positive repercussions. First, manual and digital work will be harmonized, one complementing the other. This will make for more creative, productive, and hence satisfied employees.
Second, the integration of enormous data drawn from different areas would make for a pool of rich, high-quality data, which, in turn, would make for rich, high-quality data analysis.
Such a data analysis would inform more accurate business decisions. It would shape the most potent strategy.
5. Endless variety of tools
Finally, as RPA will explode, besides RPA consulting services, a plethora of tools will spawn. Hundreds of them offering different capabilities.
2021 will, then, see the division of RPA into different classes. One class would excel in accuracy while the other in data security, while another in usability. The most comprehensive and probably expensive, perhaps everything.
There will be so much to choose from.
The possibilities will be limitless.
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