Gartner Hype CycleDepending on where you start the timer we are somewhere between six and nine months into the hype cycle of Robotic Process Automation (RPA).  That possibly sets us very close to Gartner’s Peak of Inflated Expectations.  But from our point of view the big questions are no longer:  Is it GAME CHANGING (it is), Are the ECONOMICS JAW DROPPING (they are), or Will BPOs GET IT (they do).

The real questions we are asking are where will RPA take us and how fast.  For those old enough to learn from past cycles we think the next few months are very predictable. 

Of course you want to know too, so read on.

Robotic Process Automation – Top 5 Predictions Before Year End

Lots of outsourcers will make ‘news’ with RPA.  At least one of these announcements has officially become the worst kept secret in outsourcing.  By the end of the 2014 there will be lots of ‘prove it works’ examples that everyone says they have been waiting to hear.  How do we know?  We are helping build them today – just can’t talk about it…

The Robotic Process Automation technology vendors will take second stage to the business case.  Instead of the buzz being around the brands of IPSoft, Blue Prism, etc. the news will become the automation of ‘back office’ labor itself.  This is great for the industry (if that’s the right term) of robotic process automation technology because it means the vendors have done their job of creating the awareness and can now focus on building even more powerful software.

The Cottage Industry of RPA specialists will become a metropolis.  Remember Social Media?  One day it was a cool new place for business marketers to visit but no one was quite sure what to do with it.  A day later (it seemed) there were self-professed Social Media experts everywhere, all claiming to have the magic model to make it work.  (Never mind that for many of those experts their so-called qualifications were the ability to log in to Twitter with Hootsuite). What we call this technology will be decided.  Are they Robots, Autonomics, Digital Labor, Virtual FTEs, Macros on Steroids?  We predict the ‘market’ will make the choice (if it hasn’t already) long before the end of the year.  While the dictionary definition of the chosen term may not line up with the way the label is used, it won’t matter.  What’s needed is a phrase or term that humans can predictably search for – and like what they find on page one of the results.  Want proof?  Google it.

Political backlash to Robotic Process Automation will escalate.  The same industries beaten up for sending jobs offshore will now be chastised, reprimanded and scolded for automating those jobs away.  Loving RPA?  Get ready to defend yourselves in the court of public opinion.

We are fortunate to have a lot of great minds and influential thinkers that visit this blog.  What are your thoughts on RPA’s next nine months?   Will we fall deep into Disillusionment or hop straight over to the Plateau of Productivity?