There is a great deal of buzz surrounding the rapid adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology. According to a Gartner study, by 2020 90% of large and midsize organizations will have at least one process supported by RPA. Gartner also estimates, however, that 1 in 5 of organizations that try RPA will have replaced it with another technology during that time frame. How can the same technology be both adopted and abandoned so quickly?
The answer is revealed when examining the inherent benefits and drawbacks of RPA technology. As a form of automation, it holds the potential to boost productivity that yields the equivalent of additional 24/7 workers at a fraction of the cost of human resources. Several fundamental flaws in the approach, however, may prevent organizations from ever realizing those gains, and could even make some situations worse.
How RPA works
RPA software allows non-technical users to automate tasks by creating simple “bots” that can log in to systems, retrieve information, and perform basic tasks. So long as the tasks are clearly defined, highly repeatable, and primarily rule-based, RPA bots can be trained to do that work.