RPA, one of the fastest growing enterprise solutions, itself will not become obsolete, at least in the next few years. RPA installations could need to be replaced if more custom solutions with better error rates become available. However, as RPA installations are replaced, there will be need to automate other processes for which a domain specific solution may not exist.
Can RPA be replaced by domain/process specific solutions?
Asking if RPA will become obsolete is a bit like asking if excel will become obsolete. Better, easier to use tools can do what excel can do in almost every use case, however none of them are as flexible and have as widespread availability as excel.
This is due to an inherent advantage of flexible tools: They are there to serve end users’ needs before more sophisticated/customized tools are available. Therefore they always end up serving a function. To see this in case of RPA, we need to look at how automation solutions are developed:
- Due to changes in the market or the company, a new process is required. Or due to advancements in automation and cognitive computing, it becomes possible to automate processes that were not easy to automate before.
- While developers work to build a custom solution for the process, some companies do not wait for the custom solution and implement an RPA solution instead
- The custom solution becomes available and it will slowly gain market share.
Since this process is constantly ongoing, there will always be a need for RPA so companies can build quick automation solutions for new problems. However, as this process also demonstrates, you need to be mindful of the running cost of an RPA automation which includes:
- cost of errors
- effort for manual tasks that remain part of the process
- effort for maintenance
- license fees for the bots
If a new, more customized, cheaper or smarter solution becomes available and if it can offer cost savings compared to the costs of running an RPA automation, then switching to an RPA alternative would make sense.
Can RPA be replaced by easier-to-use solutions?
Definitely. RPA is great for automations involving user interfaces (UI). However, as enterprises move to the cloud and as APIs become ubiquitous, there will be less need to use UI-based automation solutions. For example, for building quick cloud based integrations IFTT or Zapier provide competent solutions. As more enterprise work moves to the cloud, we could witness cloud based, no code tools replace the RPA tools of today. So we believe in a future for RPA as long as enterprise work does not move to API first platforms on the cloud.
Though we believe that there will be a place for RPA in the future, that does not mean that RPA will not evolve. Feel free to
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