Robotic process automation is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. More and more businesses are discovering the value of automating repetitive processes and freeing up human workers to focus on higher level thinking. Global research and advisory firm Gartner estimates that the worldwide robotic process automation software market grew 63% in 2018 – with forecasts estimating it will reach 1.3 billion dollars by the end of 2019, and a staggering 7 billion by 2024.
RPA tools are now finding a home in a wide range of sectors. The banking and finance sector has seen widespread adoption of RPA and Gartner confidently predicts that three quarters of finance departments will be leveraging RPA by 2020.
The spread of new technology doesn’t stop there. Transaction-heavy, process-driven industries such as online retail and ecommerce are also adopting RPA en masse, as are regulation-heavy organisations in the public sector. North Tyneside council, for instance, is estimating RPA-led cost savings of at least £33.8 million by 2025, with a 4-6x increase in processing speed and a 40.6% reduction in call times.
Big business, then, is betting big on RPA, investing resources not only in implementation but also in education and training. But where does that leave SMEs?
A recent OnePoll survey by Ultima found 57% of UK SMEs fear that they will be driven out of business in the next five years, as larger businesses increasingly adopt RPA.
There is a misconception that planning and delivering an RPA implementation is resource-heavy and beyond the reach of many businesses. During a recent survey we discovered that one in ten proposed RPA projects was actually shelved, with ‘overcomplicated processes’ being one of the main reasons. This idea that RPA is complex and expensive is false. What is true is that SMEs are falling behind in knowledge (and therefore awareness) about the merits and possibilities of RPA as a valuable tool that they can feasibly use.
It is critical that business leaders in charge of small and middle-sized companies have a working knowledge of robotic process automation, not only so they can consult with external partners, but also so they can remain competitive with emerging tech into the future.
With that said, how can SME leaders gain a knowledge of the RPA market without investing unreasonable amounts of time? There are three ways:
1. Industry reports
Industry reports allow you to gain an impartial, high level view of the RPA market as a whole. The Gartner Magic Quadrant is one of the most respected, using proprietary qualitative data to highlight trends and the general market direction for the coming year. Consulting companies such as Deloitte and McKinsey also publish industry reports and analysis, primarily concerned with the use of RPA in financial services.
For SME business leaders in competitive industries, having a ‘feel’ for the movement of your market towards new tech such as RPA can help inform short and long-term corporate strategy.
2. Learning resources
There are a ton of resources readily available to learn the basics of RPA. Automation Anywhere, one of the leading providers of RPA software, has an online university, featuring countless lessons for different job titles. An RPA developer, for example, requires a different level of technical detail than does a CEO or Finance Director. There are also engaging games and videos available to improve retention and ensure you have a fantastic grasp of the basics before interacting with external partners about possible projects.
3. In-person events
The best way to learn about RPA is to see a demonstration in person. Research your local area for upcoming RPA events, and also reach out to your network to see who else is using bots to increase efficiency. There are also conferences for industry-specific and beginner-focused introductions look out for more intimate workshops where you can ask questions and interact with the experts.
About the Author
Head of Automation
Aaron Marshall is Head of Automation Practice at Procensol UK, a process-centric solutions provider using low code applications and automation technology to aid digital transformation. You can reach him at email@example.com.