From the pandemic to the great resignation, the past few years have been difficult. As the calendar revealed a new year, with the clouds of economic uncertainty looming, smoother sailing remains out of reach.
And, yet through all the turbulence we’ve experienced, the use of automation has grown, and continues to grow, at record levels.
It’s a trend that will likely continue.
RPA on a path of ‘explosive growth’
If you haven’t heard about robotic process automation (RPA), it’s a technology that uses “robots” to offload boring and mundane tasks. Offloading these tasks helps free employees to focus on higher-value and more interesting work.
Research shows investing in automation may help organizations weather economic uncertainty as they face skill shortages and potential cutbacks. So, it’s easy to see why the adoption of RPA has been record-breaking over the past few years.
Deloitte’s third annual RPA survey found that:
- Over half of respondents say they’re using RPA.
- RPA adoption is expected to increase by 72% over the next two years.
- RPA is expected to reach “universal adoption” over the next five years.
If you’re considering RPA adoption but worried about the cost, respondents also noted that return on investment happens quickly (usually in 12 months or less). Additionally, they said that RPA helped improve compliance (92%), improve accuracy (90%), improve productivity (86%), and reduce overall costs (59%).
Here are a few other trends to watch:
Low-code and no-code adoption gains popularity
Finding and retaining talent over the past couple of years has been hard. Employees left their jobs in record numbers in 2021, as organizations scrambled to fill the gaps. And yet, even with an increased number of layoffs forecasted for 2023, skill gaps in some areas, such as software development, persist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that roughly 200,000 developer jobs need to be filled over the next decade.
Filling skill gaps is one of the reasons why low-code and no-code adoption is growing so fast. Intuitive features, such as drag and drop, allow business and technical employees to easily design applications. As we move further into this year, the use of these tools will continue to grow as organizations work to do more with less.
Hyperautomation continues to be a top technology trend
Gartner coined the term “hyperautomation” in 2010 to describe an organization’s use of multiple automation tools at once to improve efficiency and processes. Growth around hyperautomation is expected to stay strong, with a forecasted growth rate of 22% by 2028.
A few examples of how organizations might use this strategy include:
- Low-code or no-code applications. You might use these tools to build applications, cut back on development time, and reduce lengthy development cycles.
- Robotic process automation. An organization might use RPA to automate time-consuming processes. For example, a process that took an hour in the past could be reduced to minutes, freeing employees to work on more interesting and valuable tasks.
- Intelligent document processing. This technology leverages machine learning and optical character recognition to “read” documents and efficiently deliver the right content to the right person.
An example of hyperautomation is when an organization combines the above tools to speed up workflows and improve efficiency. And in the coming year, we’ll see more companies do this as automation grows.
Navigating the waters in 2023
In times of economic uncertainty, it’s tempting to tighten up spending and take a “wait and see” approach. However, a significant reason automation is growing so fast is the high ROI. And, while not all processes are a good fit for RPA, the ones that follow a specific sequence of events and don’t require decision-making are. With every process you automate, you save time, money, and energy – and those savings add up quickly.
At a time when one’s ability to meet demanding customer expectations is a competitive advantage, automation becomes more than ramping up efficiency. It’s about delivering and exceeding customer expectations. Being agile enough to do this well will position you to handle whatever the new year brings.