Robotic Process Automation is EVERYWHERE

The story of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has suddenly become one of the hardest topics to avoid if you spend any time at all following BPO, outsourcing or shared services.  On our website’s RPA in the News for example, we recently surpassed one hundred articles on the topic and that’s probably scratching the surface of what’s out there.  Twitter is full of #RPA conversations on a daily basis, RPA related press releases are coming out weekly and the analysts and researchers are all racing each other to publish the very latest on how much RPA will transform the industry.

And yet despite all this hype, prophesy and promotion is a not so dirty little secret that continues slipping out there.  Case studies.  As in, where are the RPA case studies?  So far, nearly ever article out there follows the same formula:

  • Briefly explain the technology (RPA acts like a business user…)
  • Mention a couple of vendors (it’s always the same two…)
  • Finish with a lecture / prediction of how RPA will change everything (Maybe it will!)
RPA Case Studies? Anyone?

But precious few articles or studies mention any real examples of Business Process Outsourcers who have taken RPA, applied it to a back office task and successfully run the process with virtual FTEs instead of people.  Don’t panic! If you’ve come this far now isn’t the time to suddenly become an RPA doubter.  We’re going to tell you a few reasons it’s this way.

  1. The BPOs who are in the forefront of making RPA real aren’t overly focused on talking to analysts and media about, they are simply doing it.
  2. These kinds of case studies are touchy because outsourcers are in a brutally competitive industry.  Most would give up a left arm before letting the rest of their peers in on a competitive advantage.
  3. RPA for outsourcers isn’t always about passing reduced operating costs on to the end-customers (just yet anyhow, that will happen as the market forces it to occur).  Bragging in a case study about cutting staffing costs in might put many outsourcers in a PR bind with their customers.
So is RPA for Real or Is It Just Hype’d Over Macros on Steroids?

Yes, RPA is real.  Yes, case studies are forthcoming (despite some of the reasons to hold back listed above).  Next month at Shared Services and Outsourcing Week in Dublin at least a few major RPA announcements will make their way to the floor.  A month later in June another research firm will come out with their assessment of the market, the major technology players, early movers and other details.   More and more outsourcers and end users will get more and more creative with approaches and this will just make the ball roll even faster down hill.