Gartner and Forrester on Process Automation
Process automation is an important issue for IT executives, as a CIO survey from Deloitte found that 69% list process transformation and automation as a top priority in digital transformation. Gartner also reported a growth in robotic process automation (RPA) revenues of 63.1% in 2018 to $846MM and explains this as driven by enterprise interest in the technology. Gartner also predicts revenues to increase to $1.3B in 2020.
RPA is just one of the process automation technologies in a rapidly expanding market, and a number of different manifestations with different names are being implemented by businesses to improve efficiency and productivity, and achieve business objectives.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
RPA is a technology that is chiefly used to automate repetitive tasks for specific purposes. Its main objectives are to increase efficiency, reduce costs and prevent the chance of human error.
As explained by Anurag Saxena, partner at ISG technology research & advisory firm and technology management company, RPA streamlines business processes, but it does not have the intelligence for decision making or judgment. This makes it well-suited to many time-consuming repetitive tasks that do not call for the use of intelligence.
Currently, the adoption of RPA systems is being driven by business, with RPA platforms and bots being configured to meet specific business needs. The market for RPA technologies is more business-driven than any other in automation technology.
Digital Process Automation (DPA)
Digital process automation (DPA) is often used interchangeably with business process management (BPM), such that in 2019 Forrester rebranded their BPM suites to DPA.
But Vice President of Forrester Research, Craig Le Clair, defines DPA as automating the process from end to end, and as being more complex and with decisions that cannot be handled by RPA.
Forrester also identifies two DPA options: DPA deep, which is automation that transforms and improves a business process and requires technologists to implement and focus on continuous development, and DPA-wide, which aims to take process design from highly skilled groups to business users, to be delivered on low-code platforms.
Business Process Automation (BPA)
Business process automation (BPA) is often used as a catch-all term for the various process automation technologies, though some consider the three terms RPA, DPA and BPA as being interchangeable.
To make things more confusing, DPA may also refer to desktop process automation, and the robot software used on individual computers to perform specific tasks, while some vendors use the term robotic desktop automation (RDA) to describe the same thing.
Intelligent Process Automation (IPA)
Another emerging automation technology is intelligence process automation (IPA), which can be described as an advancement of RPA, such that the limited automation is developed with machine learning to become smarter. It may also be seen as a fusion of the various different process automation technologies with artificial intelligence and machine learning to form an improved technology solution.
Though there may be some confusion over terminology, the process automation industry is growing fast, as is the demand, and these acronyms could become familiar to all over the course of the next decade.