Has Integrated Automation conquered the land RPA and AI once battled for?

Contributed by Principal Analyst Carl Lehmann 

Much the way Winter came for the Game of Thrones heroes in the new season (we promise this is the only Game of Thrones reference and we will not share any spoilers), there is talk spreading in the tech industry that Integrated Automation has come to displace tools like robotic process automation (RPA). We certainly don’t disagree, in fact, we predicted back in 2017 that RPA companies would likely not survive as stand-alone vendors.

In this report from April 2017, we predicted that RPA vendors that focused only on automating repetitive tasks, while very welcome in many IT departments in the short term, would be less likely to survive as stand-alone vendors compared to more sophisticated platforms that can call upon various machine-learning (ML) technologies to add contextual awareness and guidance of unstructured interactions toward desired outcomes. Even RPA platforms that can automate based on rules, conditional routing and logical operations, and modify behavior based on their learnings were also considered tech that would likely be subsumed into ML platforms of hyperscale CSPs, IT leviathans and tool kits of larger systems integrators, according to our analysts. In our opinion, it was unlikely RPA would last long as a stand-alone product.

Again in August 2017, our analyst team noted a rising trend with BPM software transforming into a process- and content-oriented application development and runtime platform, which we coined as 'digital automation platform' (DAP). DAPs, as referenced in the report, will emerge as uniform development, integration and runtime environments that enable intelligent process automation (IPA) – a managerial discipline focused on intuitive user experiences, contextual awareness and transparent execution. Much like what others are describing as Integrated Automation today, DAP would require RPA capabilities – to create software 'bots' that automate repetitive human activities in business processes – and AI integration – to expose 'next best guess' activities for application developers and users (process stakeholders) and extract insight – in one solution. In particular, RPA was cited to “likely become a core enabling technology in several DAP vendors' offerings.” 

In short, DAPs and Integrated Automation sound less like the death of RPA and similar technologies, and more like the next logical evolution toward accelerating business operations and making them efficient. Both describe feature-rich development platforms for content- and process-oriented applications, and a method to extract knowledge from automated execution to meet the innovation and operational efficiency needs of enterprises. In fact, our most recent research highlighting this evolution (in this spotlight report, now available for public access) covers why we believe the core tools needed to discover and effect how value and advantage are created include next-generation DAPs, RPA technology, hybrid integration platforms (HIPs), and process mining technologies (PMT) platforms. 451 Research clients can access all Market Insight reports on RPA and DAP and beyond in our Research Dashboard. Don’t have access? Apply for a Trial.

Much the way Winter has come for the Game of Thrones heroes in the new season (we promise this is the only Game of Thrones reference and we will not share any spoilers), there is talk spreading in the tech industry that Integrated Automation has come to displace tools like robotic process automation (RPA). We certainly don’t disagree, in fact we predicted back in 2017 that RPA companies would likely not survive as a stand-alone vendors.

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