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Robotic Process Automation; Insights and Top Companies

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a software-based technology that is becoming an increasingly more useful tool, made to work alongside employees and streamline workflows, enabling organisations to build virtual robots that can carry out routine, rules-based computer tasks in the same way a human would. RPA exists solely within computers and are able to virtually take control of the computers functions like the mouse and keyboard to complete tasks. The bots essentially copies work done by employees, after recording the human’s routine, a software bot is then able to perform routine tasks such as filling out documents, entering data into business applications, even reading and sending emails, adding input to data analytics software, completing forms and more. RPA often uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to accomplish and learn the processes needed to complete work. This software automation technology is programmable by users to accomplish specific business tasks, allowing users to create intelligent software bots that accomplish a wide array of workplace task, meaning human staffers are able to focus on higher value tasks.

RPA will prove to be an integral piece of technology for organisations in the future, although at the moment there’s still a lot of scepticism and concern about the technology as well as confusion around how it can be used. Many employees whose jobs involve these sort of tasks believe that robots will ‘steal their jobs’, but while the RPA software robots can copy the nations of a human employee, they are essentially digital assistants - doing simple tasks and enabling humans to accomplish much more than possible without them. Many companies investing in the creation of the technology want on lookers to see the robots as "working alongside you, rather than instead of you".

Market growth;

The RPA market has grown massively in recent years, and as more companies get involved it signals that it will accelerate further, many of the world's largest companies are already starting to involve RPA to assist their employees, and many more are looking into it because of the vast benefits it offers, namely cost savings. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses worldwide are facing pressure to adapt, and many agree that automation is the way forward. RPA is one of the single fastest growing software sectors across the industry, and has seen vast increases in investment, the market worth is expected to stand at $23bn by 2026 according to a new research report by Global Market Insights. Datamation expects the total sales of the software to reach $2.7bn in 2023, up from the approximate $1bn of sales seen in 2020.

Where does RPA fit best?

RPA is known to work best when the scope and steps of the process can be strictly defined, and when the user takes time to carefully and purposefully define each step before automating any processes. RPA projects succeed when they start with the quick and easy wins before gradually moving to more complicated processes that are more difficult to automate. RPA delivers value quickly in environments where many disconnected applications exist to support a process, and also where human employees bring these processes together. Any data entry operation or repetitive task that requires a low level of judgement is an excellent task for RPA.

Choosing the right RPA Tools;

There are a number of criteria to consider before selecting an RPA tool, in particular, the company should keep in mind their objectives and requirements. Some areas to consider are;

1. Ease of Implementation

One of the best features of any RPA technology is the ease of implementation, non-invasiveness, and compatibility with existing systems, it is necessary to check the integration capability of the existing systems in order to avoid downtime and enable a smooth transition following implementation.

2. Ease of use

The tool should be chosen in such a way that it is easy to work on, based on the capabilities of the company's team, as well as flexible enough to accommodate basic automation processes, requiring less training, as well as being user friendly and to it can be controlled easily. The choice of RPA should be appropriate for business analysts who lack knowledge in programming, while some systems require an expense background, even those that are more user friendly will require some knowledge.

3. Depth of Product Roadmap

The challenge of RPA is that, while the bots are well suited for simple, routine tasks, moving beyond the simple tasks does requires an RPA solution with both versatility and depth. The vendor should have a product roadmap that suits what you hope to achieve later. Further, if needed, the solution could include process mining (a tool that points out gaps and inefficiencies in the workflow) that automation can address.

4. Technical Features

Some important technical features should be considered, including screen scraping, scalability, cognitive capabilities, and more. Essential security measures are also necessary, and the company should ensure the extent of security that they require before choosing an RPA tool in order to avoid the system becoming vulnerable to external malicious attacks, misuse of confidential data, privacy issues and others.

5. Ownership Cost

The total cost of ownership is an important aspect that needs to be evaluated prior to choosing an RPA tool, dependant on various factors such as vendor fees, respective license fees, as well as the cost of implementation, maintenance and more.

6. Vendor support

Technology providers should provide strong vendor support to its clients, as such its a good choice to purchase from reliable providers and ensure that you are provided with a good support system. Good vendor support should enable smoother deployments, increasing technological innovations, training and certifications of the users and more.

Top RPI companies;

1. UiPath

UiPath has acted as a leader in the RPA market, it has around 3,000 employees and is dedicated solely to RPA, unlike many of its competitors that have a wider portfolio, UiPath dedicates its time and resources to RPA industry innovation. The company offers multiple tools and features; an Azure Cloud SaaS tool, an embedded analytics feature, and a mobile app for its Orchestrator tool, and AI integration fabric, which allows a more robust enablement of AI features. Just last week UiPath gathered $750 million in fundraising following a $35 billion valuation.

The company has a vast network of alliances with technology partners, who are able to offer supporting software, this network paves a way for UiPath keep up and ahead of competitors as RPA grows and changes rapidly. The company also unveiled its Cloud Enterprise RPA in mid-2019, meaning is was later to teh cloud than other vendors. But the cloud version gives an advantage in that it can serve companies while also avoiding the added hardware-software data centre expenses. While UiPath does aim to offer an intuitive user interface to its bot dashboards, it is an advanced platform so the UI is complex and would require ML knowledge to get the best use from the product.

2. Pegasystems

Pegasystems offers an RPA solution but with extensive attended features, as the companies main focus is Digital Process Automation (DPA), which is sometimes referred to as BPM (business process management), which is tightly linked to RPA. Pegasystems goes as far as to offer RPA as a no-cost upgrade for buyers that purchase their DPA solution. DPA acts as an 'all-encompassing' system that assists many areas from business rules to document support, as well as robotic process automation. This multifunction approach is likely to be appealing especially to large enterprises, which have the need for robust platforms. Further, Pegasystems has a large market presence and is fully global, which suits a multinational client.

Pegasystems' RPA features a lightweight architecture that supports fast stand-alone robotic automations, meaning clients can get operational more easily. The systems' concurrent scheduling system also enables unattended automated bots to assist in a wide range of work which will mean clients are saved from programming time and virtual machines Pegasystems has a growing commitment to unattended automations. The Pegasystems' platform uses a system that watches and records human employees's use of applications and is then able to send operational data to the machine learning platform on AWS.

3. EdgeVerve

EdgeVerge is a wholly owned subsidiary of Infosys, who is a global leader in AI and Automation. Their Robotic Process Automation, called AssistEdge, is well suited to major enterprise companies, especially those with large reliance on customer service, the company is a strong player in RPA assistance for call centers. As well as the RPA solution, they also offer a toolset of machine learning and AI tools called Infosys Nia. EdgeVerve is expected to grow its customer base aggressively within their existing customer group through Infosys business relationships, customers that don’t have an existing relationship with InfoSys are not as clearly targeted.

The AssistEdge product is just one on the company roadmap, they plan to focus on RPA governance, and a sophisticated approach to automation that uses this governance to manage the union of AI and automation. The parent company, InfoSys has a strong services component, and naturally the company wants to help to speed deployment as well as the overall ramping up of RPA projects. The company offers highly scalable solutions, with Business Intelligence dashboards as well as including enterprise-grade security that is GDPR ready. EdgeVerve has a particular strength in call centre environments, the AssistEdge Engage solution offers support for customer service agents, which reflects the company’s strength in unattended RPA.

4. Softomotive

Softomotive is one of the leading worldwide providers of Robotic Process Automation solutions, trusted by more than 8,000 companies worldwide. For companies looking for an more user friendly and accessible start to the complex world of RPA, Softomotive is a great choice. The company’s platform allows users to start with modest automation implementations, then focus on a faster move toward tangible gain, the company are also known for affordable costs. The dashboard is fairly intuitive but more advanced automations will likely require more technical staff. The company's focus on ease of use makes the tool accessible to startups with minimal tech staff or enterprise teams that want to start small. Serving the more dense market is a strength and opportunity for Softomotive, especially as most large enterprises do start small and often prefer a more intuitive UI.

Softomotive's flagship offerings support both attended and unattended automations, with a feature that is set to monitor execution and oversee concurrency in deployments. Although their RPA is a favoured choice by midmarket clients, Softomotive is geared to scale up and has scalability built in, it is developed to scale both vertically and horizontally. Softomotive's platform is expected to grow and compete with larger enterprise offerings, but in order to push the platform past the company’s easy use will usually call for an advanced programmer or data scientist. Softomotive’s ProcessRobot also enables enterprise-wide use cases, with the ability to monitor diverse automations from a single location.

5. Kofax

Kofax Kofax Inc. is an American process automation software provider with international headquarters in California, it is well suited to companies that gather large quantities of unstructured data from myriad data pools, including sources like social media and mixed-data customer interactions. Kofax's RoboServers tool shows the system’s interface in a single, easily managed container, which avoids running the solution on every desktop, unlike many RPA vendors which require customers to run automations on all client desktops/ terminals, Kofax' s method lowers infrastructure costs. Kofax's platform has a strong offering in optical character recognition tools that the need to purchase an additional OCR solution from a third party is typically avoided, potentially further reducing costs.

Because Kofax's RPA system needs fewer virtual desktop infrastructures, and thus manages the user interface from a central location, which cuts costs and allows for scaling ease. The system is strong in data extraction from documents, and can use APIs to mine and migrate data from any number of sources, further the system had fairly easy re-use and re-deployment of existing automations, which enables faster deployments in new situations.

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