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A busy year ahead in the Intelligent Automation space

by Cassandra Mosshian, Senior Analyst, Omdia
Article ImageA recent Omdia study finds automation to be garnering more enterprise mindshare

The last 16 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have affected and changed each and every one of us in some way. The same goes for businesses.

For instance, the pandemic has been an eye opener to vulnerabilities, inefficiencies, lack of digital capabilities, and ineffective ways of doing things within the enterprise.

This has led more enterprises than ever before to invest in, or at least consider, RPA and Intelligent Automation (IA) solutions. In fact, a late 2020 study by technology research and consulting firm Omdia found that more than 70% of nearly 5,000 enterprises surveyed found AI and Intelligent Automation more or significantly more important to their businesses than they were prior to the pandemic. This, coupled with on-going advancements in AI technologies like NLP and ML, has expanded the reach and caliber of what Intelligent Automation in particular can do for processes and business as a whole.

In an Omdia study published last week (Enterprise RPA & Intelligent Automation Study), 28% of respondents indicated RPA/IA is now a necessary consideration or investment due to challenges brought on by COVID-19. This is one of many drivers of growing consideration for, and adoption of, the technology.

While 11% of respondents indicated they were already utilizing RPA/IA, another 50% are planning to do so by early 2022, and the remaining 39% in the year following. This reflects the strong growth Omdia forecasts for the RPA & Intelligent Automation market, which is expected to reach $2.85 billion by the end of this year, reflecting over 40% growth year-over-year.

As the market continues to grow at strong, double-digit rates despite only 11% of enterprises actively investing in the technology per this study, it underscores the gap between first-movers and the average enterprise – the haves vs. the have nots – as well as the gap between vendor messaging and enterprise adoption in the space. While the average enterprise is not yet ready or able to invest in RPA/IA, first movers are scaling their deployments and in turn, scaling the benefits they provide. All said, the next two years will see a noteworthy jump in the number of enterprises starting out with and/or scaling RPA/IA.

RPA/IA undoubtedly can save businesses a significant amount of time and cost when implemented correctly and scaled across the organization, but that takes time and it is important to set and manage expectations early and often in that regard. Study findings show that just over half of respondents understand that successful adoption, implementation, management, and scaling of RPA/IA is a multiyear process and initiative to ensure purposeful, governed, compliant, secure, and end-user friendly rollouts rather than a quick fix to a company’s cost profile, even as some vendors offering pricing tiers and subscriptions to lower the barriers to adoption.

The picture is not entirely rosy, especially as a set of strong best practices has yet to emerge. Many of the technical concerns inhibiting RPA/IA adoption relate to security, poor data quality, and poorly defined processes. Moreover, the human element is not to be ignored. Lack of technical expertise and executive and/or end-user buy-in and onboarding could be inhibitive to the success of a deployment.

Regarding end users, while many indicated positive feedback, one-third of respondents in this latest Omdia study indicated employees are neutral or negative towards their organization utilizing RPA/IA. And for good reason since the study also found that one of the top longer-term goals of RPA adoption is staff reduction.

Transparency early and often is key, from the C-Suite and defining KPIs and setting expectations to the end-users and how the technology will impact them individually.


About me: Cassandra Mooshian is a senior analyst at Omdia. Contact at [email protected]

About the study: Omdia and its Informa Tech partner InformationWeek conducted a survey in March and April of 2021 in which we surveyed enterprises regarding their perceptions, intentions, and adoption status of RPA/IA software. We inquired about barriers and benefits, impact on employees, long term goals, outlook, and more. The study published 24 June, 2021 and is available here: Enterprise RPA & Intelligent Automation Study

Definitions: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) refers to activities where software “bots” mimic humans performing rules-based tasks to improve process efficiencies and quality, and ultimately, the accuracy of process outcomes. For the sake of simplicity throughout this survey, “RPA” includes Intelligent Automation platforms that consist of RPA and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies such as Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to process unstructured data, automate variable processes, provide prescriptive analytics, and ultimately, automate tasks and processes that involve contextual awareness, decision making, or judgment. Intelligent Automation is often also known as IPA or Intelligent Process Automation.

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