A new year has started in its own right, and with a retrospect of 2019 in mind, it’s time to have a look at some 2020 predictions about robotic process automation. We start by saying that automation trends for 2020 have also been in the spotlight at UiPath Forward 3, the event that we attended last year. You can find more details about the topics touched upon at the event in the News section on our website.
We’ve come a long way since the predictions that we were making in 2018 for this year. One of the developments that we anticipated then, regarding the joint venture between automation and other technological advances, is confirmed by the mere title of this article: this year’s predictions include RPA, AI and Intelligent Automation in parallel.
Let’s see in more concrete terms what we can expect to happen in these related fields in 2020, and how you might tailor your own business decisions accordingly.
RPA, AI and intelligent automation in 2020
To start with a generic, all-encompassing remark, throughout this year, the ‘automation first’ mindset will be even more of a strategic must for companies that are set on becoming more competitive. The list of predictions below substantiates this claim.
1. Organizations will reach a mature stage of RPA deployment
The time has come when software robots can be more efficiently standardised, and this warrants their application across a wider range of use cases, departments, whole companies, and even industry sectors. By combining bots into reusable and repeatable elements, both their applicability and their power are enlarged to a considerable extent.
According to Chet Chambers, vice president and chief evangelist of the Americas at UiPath, the metaphor that best captures this trend is that of snowflakes turning into snowballs. The ‘snowball robots’ are equally predictable across industries and geographical spaces, which makes deployment itself more predictable, and, as a consequence, it facilitates scaling.
2. Mature RPA will continue its advance towards intelligent automation
Because of its increased versatility and disruptive potential to transform business processes, intelligent automation will be the next milestone that our efforts are worth investing in. The joint usage of RPA and complementary technologies like, e.g., artificial intelligence, business process management, optical character recognition, process orchestration, machine learning, natural language processing, enables the automation of increasingly complex processes.
Gartner also notices this strategic trend, and labels it ‘hyperautomation’. The expected benefits of cognitive automation are robots’ increased capacity to master unstructured data, to engage in intricate decision-making processes that take into account a wider range of variables, and to learn from experience. As a consequence, the performance of a wide spectrum of business processes will be significantly upgraded.
3. Intelligent automation will continue to move forward towards the front office
When it comes to 2020 predictions about intelligent automation per se, awareness of these technologies’ “functional agnosticism”, i.e., the fact that they can be used for operational efficiency across an entire organization and not merely for the fulfillment of specific functions, will be crucial.
The extension of intelligent automation into the front office in customer-facing situations is a step ahead towards enterprise-wide connectivity. What makes this possible is the fact that the progress in AI allows chatbots to provide more intricate customer assistance, and thus to be better qualified for the job of virtual assistants.