The Evolution of RPA to Support Digital Transformation

By Shak Akhtar, Global SVP Robotics Solutions, Redwood Software

Software robots are typically used as a metaphor for automation and artificial intelligence. They execute the repetitive activities of humans, drive productivity and significantly challenge traditional ways of working. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has more recently played a part in that, being seen as the next shiny new technological evolution for business.

Keen to jump on the bandwagon, businesses have rushed to implement RPA, attempting to install armies of bots without any real considered strategy, amounting to a tactical approach that becomes costly and prohibitive in the future when the time comes to scale. This ‘goldrush’ has not only led to companies failing to achieve their desired results but also left a sour taste in people’s mouths. We have recently started to hear about a plethora of failed pilots, or pilots using classic ‘desktop’ RPA tools that haven’t delivered on the original expectations and intent.

Among all the market noise, buyers have until now struggled to cut through the clutter created by a large pool of robotic process automation providers, meaning the real benefits that robotics can bring have for the most part been overlooked. Luckily, that’s started to change, with discussions around RPA maturing and companies re-entering the stage a second time but with a ‘modified rebuy’ mindset. This is where they had previously procured or piloted desktop RPA tools, but have reverted with changes to their original requirements. It’s probably because they are now more aware of the limitations of their original thinking and the limitations of the classic desktop RPA tools. Sometimes only by learning what you don’t want. do you really understand exactly what you do want.

McKinsey published an excellent blog recently around why robotic automation is stumbling and much of what they describe aligns with what we have been hearing from prospects. I just attended the Forrester Digital Transformation Europe 2017 event in London and it is encouraging to learn about companies who seek to transform their businesses, become market disruptors and use ‘digital’ as the catalyst to achieve continued competitive advantage. I saw a presentation around how companies look to deliver a better front office customer experience, yet forget about the untapped opportunities for robotics in the back office. In the back-office there are still far too many people doing repetitive, mundane, soul destroying work where processes are not as fast, efficient, accurate or as effective as they need to be. However, a company like Amazon continually evolves digital beyond just the front-office and has also transformed the back-office with an agile, streamlined and responsive supply chain and optimised operations.

At Redwood, we coined the term ‘The Robotic EnterpriseTM’ to describe a situation where manual work in the back office is a thing of the past, customers are empowered and serve themselves and employees are redirected to customer support and tasks focussed on innovation, business creativity and continued reinvention.

Customers finally start to see past the early myopic approaches to RPA, the misconceptions and the limitations of desktop RPA. They are now ready to apply robotics to achieve superior business advantage and we welcome the opportunity to have a dialogue. 


Get in touch with Redwood to find out more.

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