In today’s dynamic digital marketplace, organisations must focus on both efficiency and innovation to stay ahead of the competition. They are rapidly automating processes so that more can be done with less while retaining the same quality. Robotic Process Automation and Digital Process Automation are among the fastest-growing segments of business technology today. The Robotic Process Automation market was estimated to reach $2.46 billion by 2022, and is projected to reach $8.33 billion by 2026.
But do Robotic Process Automation and Digital Process Automation compete with or complement each other? While they are distinct technologies, Robotic Process Automation and Digital Process Automation share common goals. When deployed together, they are the foundations of a powerful platform to enable digital transformation organisation-wide, and enable businesses to provide superior customer experiences.
What Is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
Robotic Process Automation is a software technology that allows businesses to automate low-level tasks now and will assist humans with higher-level tasks in the future, as the technology improves. The primary focus of RPA is to have software bots complete routine, monotonous jobs, freeing up human employees to complete tasks that require emotional intelligence, reasoning, judgment, and a higher level of care and interaction with customers.
RPA is a surface-level fix and does not replace business processes; however, it allows rote processes to be completed much faster by eliminating the need for humans to do them. The bots work directly across application interfaces, automatically inputting data, triggering actions across multiple systems, and acting on behalf of employees. RPA allows businesses to reduce their human workforce, optimise the human workforce they do have, and achieve incremental automation benefits without involving IT. However, the technology it is not meant for continuous improvement and optimisation, and scalability is often a barrier that leads to projects failing.
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What Is Digital Process Automation (DPA)?
Digital Process Automation represents the evolution of traditional Business Process Management (BPM) technologies. BPM ensures that the infrastructure of an organisation’s business processes is solid and streamlines business processes for maximum efficiency and cost containment. Digital Process Automation emerged out of organisations’ needs to automate business processes as part of wider digital transformation initiatives that are focused on enhancing the customer experience as opposed to containing costs.
This is not to say that cutting costs is no longer a consideration; it is simply not the primary focus of Digital Process Automation, as it is with BPM. While BPM typically focuses on streamlining an organisation’s core businesses, in the number of tens to dozens, to enhance end-to-end efficiency and compliance, DPA aims to extend business processes to customers, suppliers, and partners, giving them better experiences when they interact with the company. Unlike BPM, DPA can expect rollouts of hundreds or even thousands of processes.
The case for Robotic Process Automation and Digital Process Automation convergence
While RPA is centred around eliminating the need for humans to complete repetitive, unskilled or low-skilled tasks, and DPA is focused on automating processes to improve the customer experience, in the end, they work in tandem to allow organisations to provide better customer experiences and outcomes.
In contrast to RPA bots, DPA solutions are not designed to fully replace tasks done by human labour. While DPA aims to streamline yet provide a more dynamic automation of customer-journey processes, it still depends largely on humans, such as the customer support representatives, to carry out the work.
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RPA bots can fill in the gaps left by DPA, allowing organisations to enjoy higher levels of efficiency and free up human workers for customer-centric work that requires intuition and creative thinking. The existing DPA systems remain in place to ensure the most engaging customer journey experience, and RPA bots perform repetitive, time-consuming work once the need for human intervention is identified by the DPA system. Once a bot completes a task, DPA takes over, pushing follow-up actions and results to the customer or another human employee to complete or review.
Although Robotic Process Automation and Digital Process Automation solutions can be deployed separately, when they are strategically implemented together, their individual benefits are compounded. RPA and DPA complement each other, forming a powerful duo that can help organisations achieve their process automation goals. Going forward, RPA can be incorporated into DPA systems and organisations’ overall digital transformation toolkits.
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The Case for RPA-DPA-Low Code Convergence
A successful digital transformation strategy combines RPA and DPA to support comprehensive, end-to-end process automation that can be dynamically and continuously improved at run-time to enhance the customer experience. However, RPA-DPA convergence is not the “end game”. Combining Robotic Process Automation and Digital Process Automation with a future-proofing low-code platform allows for a truly sustainable digital transformation journey where organisations face almost continuous change in the technology landscape and rising expectations from the customer. A low-code and future-proofing DPA can yield hyper-agile DPA apps capable of functioning in whatever combination of conditions the changing technology landscape brings and deliver individualised customer experience. With a low-code, future-proofing DPA, an app built once can be reused multiple times, anywhere, regardless where the customer may take you to, without incurring costly and repetitive refactoring or rebuilding efforts.
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One of the reasons for RPA’s growth in popularity is because previously there was not a solution that offered all of the following benefits:
- Low-code, with the ability to create portable, future-proof applications
- Strong BPM/DPA foundation
- Deployable as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
- Empower business experts while allowing strong governance by IT
RPA has great value, especially when integrating DPA solutions with legacy systems with no API support. However, organisations could achieve even better value by integrating RPA with a general-purpose (i.e., form, process, or mobile) low-code platform that can create future-proof, portable, hyper-agile business applications.