A Fresh Look at the Limitations of RPA in 2019

Posted by Julie Shafiki on Jan 2, 2019 10:00:24 AM

As many people and businesses around the world focus on new possibilities for the coming year, there is something to be said for a healthy dose of skepticism. For us at Kryon, a recent article on Forbes.com called The Big RPA Bubble got our attention, raising important points about some common misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations regarding enterprise automation. The article expressed some skepticism, but it also reflected some of the important capabilities of today’s RPA solutions and the ways companies can leverage them. Yet while it pointed out some of the gaps between what people expect RPA to do for their companies and the impact it actually has, it didn’t delve into the ways emerging technologies can narrow those gaps.

Some of the article’s key points were centered on the differences between (desktop) attended and (virtual-machine-based) unattended automation and the importance of approaching the two solution types differently. It argued that attended automation is a good solution for low-hanging fruit – for automating “simple, repetitive tasks” that when implemented on a large scale can offer significant savings. It also pointed out that many organizations fall short when trying to automate “increasingly complex operational processes” through unattended automation, because these companies unrealistically expect RPA to fix processes that are already flawed.

There is much in the article that we agree with, and there is plenty of food for thought. We agree that attended and unattended automation are different, and that it’s important to know the difference. We agree that attended automation has great potential for accelerating and improving work processes for individual employees – creating the potential to achieve major benefits when deployed in large quantities and used frequently. And we agree that unattended automation has limitations, and that it’s important to recognize those limitations in order to use it effectively.

But we also see a reality that the article didn’t explore in depth: The RPA landscape at the beginning of 2019 is not the same as it was at the beginning of 2018. Sure, unattended automation still can’t by itself correct fundamentally flawed processes; as the article put it, “RPA can’t fix bad processes – it just speeds them up.” But the technologies surrounding RPA are developing along with RPA itself, and companies looking to automate processes today have options that they didn’t have 12 months ago that can streamline and ease the planning and implementation of automation.

What has changed?

The market hasn’t yet seen the full impact of technologies such as Kryon Process Discovery™, which dramatically expands the scope of enterprise automation by identifying, analyzing, and evaluating automatable work processes as well as automatically creating functional workflows for them. But we at Kryon have already seen the benefit companies enjoy when they can automatically receive a thorough breakdown of their processes. While that alone doesn’t tell them how to change processes in order to maximize their efficiency, it becomes far easier for them to identify potential for improvement when they can see key metrics for each process – measuring factors such as the frequency of a process, the number of employees performing it, and the average amount of time spent on it.

How does that kind of technology impact what you can automate? Simply put, you can’t automate what you (or your technology) can’t find. Making the most of RPA isn’t just about automating as much as possible; it requires automating the processes best suited for automation. What technology such as Kryon Process Discovery offers you isn’t just increased scalability – it’s also the ability to scale up your use of RPA efficiently by seeing clearly the most promising automation opportunities.

And how does it impact when you can automate? Because Kryon Process Discovery automatically generates functional workflows for each process it finds, by the time you choose a process to automate, most of the work involved in automating it is already done. As a result, Process Discovery stands out for its ability to accelerate the steps involved in planning and automating each process. In fact, customers who have tried Kryon Process Discovery have seen it cut their RPA deployment times by up to an estimated 80 percent.

Understanding and distinguishing

One of the article’s most important themes – one with which we couldn’t agree more – is the importance of understanding RPA’s capabilities, limitations, and implications. It goes without saying that in order to make the most of RPA, it’s important to understand what RPA is, what it can do, and what it can’t do. And – as the article pointed out – understanding RPA really involves distinguishing between attended and unattended automation (and, we would add, hybrid automation in which attended and unattended robots work together) and understanding how to approach each of them most effectively.

But there is another key distinction that is also relevant here: It’s important to understand that 2019 is not 2018. There are things you can do in January 2019 that you couldn’t do at this time last year – like automatically having your work processes identified and evaluated for their automation potential by a tool that simultaneously generates functional workflows for them. That may not be a full solution for all your process-related inefficiencies, but it does make it far easier and faster to find and automate the processes best suited for RPA.

Most importantly, if the main challenge preventing you from making the most of RPA is your struggle to quickly and accurately find the best processes to automate, then 2019 looks like a far more promising year for your use of automation than 2018 was.

Ready to see what Kryon’s Attended Automation, Unattended Automation, Hybrid Automation, and Process Discovery solutions can do for your company? Schedule a live demo today.


You may also be interested in these blog posts:

CTO Insights: Decentralized RPA & Other Predictions for 2019

New EY & Kryon Whitepaper Examines the Real Cost of Robotic Process Automation

Topics: RPA, Attended RPA, Unattended RPA, Process Discovery, RPA Predictions

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