What is lacking in RPA?
With the advent of RPA, processes that were repetitive, error-prone, and without variations, became obvious candidates for automation. But this version too had its challenges. One obvious challenge was the dependency on the underlying application. A disruption in a single isolated process would trigger a change in the application the bot runs on, which would subsequently lead to a breakdown of the entire RPA deployment on top of the application.
Other challenges with respect to RPA include:
- RPA falls short when it came to execution – with some projects taking up to 9 months in some cases
- RPA lacks the ability to create front-end user interfaces and define new workflows
- RPA has limited ability to automate processes end-to-end, that are susceptible to breakages due to application interfaces changes, process changes, etc.
- With the constant need to fix issues around application upgrades and process changes, bot maintenance can be expensive- sometimes exceeding the cost of initial bot development
- The governance of bot farms becomes challenging for IT, especially with enterprises leveraging bots from multiple vendors
How Intelligent Automation can provide the required answer
Intelligent Automation includes the orchestration of three layers of technology:
- Automation technology: At the core we have Automation technologies – such as Process Mapping and Intelligence (e.g., Process Mining, Task Mining, and iBPMS); Data-led Transformation (e.g., Intelligent Document Processing); Workflow, Process, and Task Automation (e.g. Low Code, RPA, API, and Intelligent Virtual Agents)
- Intelligence technology: The Automation technologies are further bolstered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies. For example, Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing/Natural Language Generation, Conversational AI, etc.
- Infra technology: Automation and Intelligence tech are in turn powered by Next-Gen Infrastructure
This model, in contrast to RPA, enables organizations to adopt a more holistic approach towards automation. It enables proactive identification of new processes with automation potential, aligning/preparing these as required, and finally automating these. This model also enables organizations to scale their automation initiatives with ease.
The critical role of low code in intelligent automation
All the challenges of RPA as articulated above can be effectively solved by using an enterprise low-code-led Workflow Automation approach – allowing enterprises to quickly build apps with agility to accommodate changes as and when they arise.
Other significant benefits of using a powerful enterprise low-code approach include:
- Allows building of omni-channel experiences across different platforms, and provides the ability to analyze complex enterprise data
- Enables the creation of workflows with straight through processing and possesses the ability to easily integrate with third-party systems
- With the direct integration of apps with underlying systems of record and robust data pipelines, maintenance requirements are low
- Broader enterprise application governance frameworks are applicable without specialized controls and oversight
- A broad spectrum of UI/UX features which are a part of the same enterprise low code platform.
- Non-Stop agility for the tech and business team which helps drive faster time to value & faster time to market.
- Integrate seamlessly with existing legacy apps connecting with systems of record to create multiple systems of engagements (B2E, B2B, B2C etc.)
- Deliver cost savings against the purchase of performance management solutions by aggregating performance monitoring of all applications on one single platform
Enterprise Low-code platforms help in truly optimizing the processes and underlying systems. Organizations can leverage these platforms to modernize legacy applications or quickly build new ones, including the ability to build front-end interfaces, something that RPA lacks. This forms the core business architecture, allowing for an omni-channel experience across mobile, web, and other immersive interfaces. Further, from an architecture perspective, enterprise low-code brings in the ability to orchestrate – seamlessly integrating with various systems of record and other enterprise systems, to form the core data and platform foundation. In essence, this enables the automation of various horizontal and vertical processes across the enterprise.
An enterprise low-code automation technology breaks away from the typical siloed approach towards automation. It occupies a critical part of the intelligent automation ecosystem, allowing RPA bots to run on top of low-code apps. It’s safe to conclude that enterprise low-code and other intelligent automation technologies, including RPA, can work seamlessly together.
Indian enterprises have already begun their hyper-automation journeys, but overall adoption is still in the nascent stages. Though enterprise low-code has emerged as a key technology within the intelligent automation stack, most enterprises have been slow to move across the maturity model. However, a few enterprises have evolved fast and taken strategic initiatives to become early adopters, pioneers of enterprise low-code adoption.
A major focus in the recent past with respect to automation has been around investing in RPA.
They mostly concentrate on making quick wins first around automation of horizontal processes in Finance & Accounting, Procurement and HR. These initiatives are owned by individual business units. If enterprises want to accelerate on the intelligent automation journey, they must have a focused strategy in place for it – including a dedicated center of excellence with enterprise low-code being a sub-charter, a dedicated team and leader, focused talent acquisition processes, etc. Additionally, as enterprises move up the maturity scale, the technology becomes increasingly sophisticated through convergence with other intelligent automation technologies such as NLP, IDP, to name a few.
Biggest impact areas
As more and more companies become technology-driven, freeing up developer capacity is a pressing need. This is where technologies such as low-code can swoop in – to not only improve the productivity of existing developers, but also ensure faster time-to-market, especially for mission-critical applications.
For enterprises, some of the biggest benefits include:
- Hyper-agility by achieving faster time-to-market by enabling rapid development of apps
- Immersive experience by creating user-friendly applications, and enhancing the experience of all stakeholders – customers, employees, and partners
- Driving innovation and performance by modernizing legacy systems and processes as well as development of net new experiences and workflows
- Ensuring operational resilience by retaining the ability to quickly build business-ready solutions
- Cost savings due to the increased productivity of professional developers and the involvement of citizen developers in the automation process
With the right enterprise low-code platforms, enterprises can kickstart the next phase of their intelligent automation journey and manage end-to-end software development. Low code can help every step of the way: from ideation to scaling up with agile DevOps, on a single platform. Ultimately, leading to the ability to design and develop strategic products rapidly, with immersive UX and built-in security. To ensure maximum value from any automation initiative, it is essential to have a holistic and well-defined approach – an approach that covers people, process, and technology. Only then can enterprises realize the vision of truly being a digital enterprise.
(The writer is Regional vice president, OutSystems India)