Marvin Newell
Marvin Newell

Everyone is talking about Robotic Process Automation (RPA)—the next disruptive, transformational technical solution. You hear experts speak of massive cost reductions and time-to-market improvements that will blow past your current competitors. Everyone is launching pilot programs to test it, but you see few production examples at scale. And yet, meanwhile, your C-suite executives are asking, “What are we doing about this?”

If you’ve been in the industry for awhile, you might think this sounds familiar—perhaps like how we talked about cloud when that first emerged. Like the patterns we saw during what we thought was the “last” disruptive trend, today’s discussions in the market pertain to both enterprises commencing their RPA journey and providers jockeying to deliver the right solutions to those enterprises. It got us thinking: What can those hoping to capitalize on the emergence of RPA possibly learn from the trials and tribulations of firms who hoped to do the same as cloud services emerged?

Let’s compare the journey:
Emergence of RPA (Today)Emergence of Cloud ServicesRPA: What Happens?
Market MaturityEvery conversation begins with “here is what we mean by RPA…”Every conversation began with “here is how we define cloud…”As enterprise-wide patterns emerge, nomenclature will converge to drive clarity on value levers.
Adoption PatternsThere are lots of pilots that are slow to scale across processes/enterprises. There is a focus on “no-brainer” RPA cases.There were lots of pilots that were slow to scale to enterprise workloads. There was an early focus on “spiky” workloads where cloud yielded extraordinary benefits, and “red herring” barriers (implying that “cloud isn’t secure”) emerged.Business users will continue to drive siloed initiatives until the market reconciles buyer needs with provider business models.
SolutionsSolutions are targeted at specific cases where value is obvious, and not oriented toward enterprise value.Solutions were targeted at “low hanging fruit” where benefits were obvious. Broad, enterprise-wide solutions were limited to niche players with mostly private clouds.Solutions serve as a foundation of the environment. ROI is driven by impact across processes and internal organizational boundaries. Enterprise software vendors build automation capabilities into their products.
Market-Leading Solution ProvidersMarket is divided into top software providers and BPO providers. Software firms are struggling to align business models with market needs. Some BPO players want to cannibalize current RPA services, and tradeoffs in software and BPO business models are hindering RPA adoption.“New entrants” exploited unique cloud business models, while “incumbents” that attempted to leverage their historical business model made compromises and fell behind.A new RPA business model must emerge to fully align with market needs and drive enterprise-wide value. Solution providers will emerge with approaches that align interests rather than create conflicts.
Value LeversRPA can replace human capital with automation, which cuts costs for businesses.Businesses controlled costs by tying cost structure to usage patterns.Value levers emerge that replace the importance of cost reduction with accuracy, flexibility, agility, and compliance. 

What can you learn from your cloud journey?

While RPA may be the next “unknown,” IT leaders have been here before—and they’ll be here again. If we learned anything from our cloud journey, the answer is clear: take the risk and jump on the trend now.

Marvin Newell

Marvin Newell has deep consulting expertise across a broad range ofindustries. He has advised Fortune 500 companies as well as mid-market organizations. His background includes significant experience in corporate restructuring, as well as defining and implementing major change programs for global enterprises.

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