Sneha Kapoor can be characterized as a talented, zealous learner with a tremendous work ethic. At IDC Financial Insights, she leads regional research and consulting on RPA, Intelligent Automation, AI, and cloud computing for financial services in Asia/Pacific. With close to 14 years of experience, Sneha provides thought leadership and strategic guidance on key technology trends and predictions and the overall impact of these technologies on technology buyers, vendors, and IT service organizations.
Whether leading consulting projects and custom research or assisting clients with market intelligence and business practices, she is regularly in front and center – presenting to C-suite and senior-level executives in the region and a keynote speaker at industry events. It’s all in a day’s work for Sneha.
Why did you choose RPA/Intelligent Automation as your career path?
My career in RPA and Intelligent Automation is an outcome of a fortuitous move with very good timing. While I was keeping a close eye on the success of RPA in the US and Europe, I saw a similar phenomenon emerging in Asia/Pacific in 2016-2017. It was then that I chose to lead our research and consulting on this burgeoning opportunity. Since then, I have authored numerous reports, delivered keynote presentations, moderated discussions for decision-makers, and completed advisory projects on RPA and Intelligent Automation.
What enabled your success in this field?
Let me first start by thanking Kryon for this recognition. Even though I believe that I have a long way to go to reach the pinnacle of success, three things that have put me in good stead are the passion for what I do, emphasis on developing interpersonal relationships, and zeal towards learning new things. As an analyst, I need to stay ahead of the curve and demonstrate the ability to accurately predict and advise on the market direction. The relationships I have built have ensured that I had my feet on the ground, and I could closely monitor every situation as and when it emerged.
The world is progressing rapidly towards a skills-based economy, where our roles are very likely to get disrupted or change inevitably. I believe that what will help us succeed in the future will not be our current skills but how fast we can adapt and learn new skills. Thankfully, this precocious approach to learning and adapting made me leap on opportunities, take risks, and consequently, took my career on a different trajectory.
How do you see the market developing in the next few years?
RPA has often been cited as the essential first step towards automation, but we believe that it could be more accurately described as part of a continuum of technology-enabled initiatives that bring intelligence into business process automation. We define this continuum of technology-based initiatives focused on process automation as the "automation continuum". This continuum also underscores a notable evolution from a rules-based digital workforce to an intelligent digital workforce.
The outlook for RPA and Intelligent Automation is optimistic. IDC predicts that the Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) market in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) will grow from about USD 1.05 billion in 2019 to USD 1.94 billion in 2023. This points to a cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.9%. Amongst various software segments in IPA, RPA is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 53%. Many organizations will invest in RPA and Intelligent Automation solutions to achieve increased automation and intelligent decision-making, as well as to improve operational efficiencies to realize exceptional business value and deliver a more real-time and contextual customer experience.
What do you love about your job?
My current role entails working with the industry stalwarts, who are at the forefront of defining and shaping the future of technology and financial services. It has provided me with diverse and enhanced perspectives on identifying opportunities and solving challenges that belie my age and experience.
Of course, getting to know women leaders across the world and learning assiduously from their professional journey, as well as their experiences on breaking the proverbial glass ceiling, has been an added advantage.
What is your advice for young women who are interested in or entering the RPA space?
There is a huge demand for skills in RPA and Intelligent Automation. In a post (and even during) COVID-19 world, there will be a major increase in this demand as more organizations will embark on their automation journey to address their business problems and needs – many even adopting the "automation-first mindset". The graduates can, therefore, expect many opportunities with good pay packages in the region.
In terms of skills and education requirements, many organizations would ask for the knowledge of automation tools and programming. I would also add that the domain and process knowledge and the ability to apply this knowledge to real use-cases will help them succeed faster in this career. Furthermore, it would also be a good idea to continue to add more technical and business-related skills to become an expert in this field. They can also access training programs and resources offered by many leading automation vendors online for free, as well as through conventional means, such as universities and training institutes.
How can we inspire women to pursue tech careers and in RPA specifically?
Supportive policies and initiatives from the organizations will be key. Providing women in tech and RPA access to mentors, creating supportive networks, and addressing the widening skills gap will make a substantial difference. Since RPA and Intelligent Automation career paths are relatively new when compared with other technologies and disciplines, they can offer an equal opportunity and a level playing field for women employees.
Only 5% of today’s tech leadership positions are held by women. How do you think more women in leadership roles will change the tech landscape?
It is very heartening to see that women are leading the charge in emerging technologies across the world – for the very first time in tech history. Having more women leaders in the tech landscape will have a positive impact on various initiatives directed toward workplace equality.
A crucial move to recognize, nominate, and offer equal access to more women in leadership roles will encourage these leaders to take on more responsibility to spearhead change and ensure workplace equality for younger women. The tide is turning, and our timely initiatives will be a big step forward to improving workplace equality. Fortunately for me, IDC continuously enables and encourages women leaders to take up bigger and challenging roles. The leadership in Asia/Pacific has been instrumental in helping and mentoring me and other women like me to succeed in these positions.
As a parting thought, I would like to add that as the world progresses blindingly fast towards Intelligent Automation and AI, it is crucial to urgently resolve the existent unconscious and conscious biases in the society. Finding scientific and systemic solutions promptly will go a long way in tackling these current and impending gender disparities.
We are proud to showcase women leaders in RPA from diverse backgrounds. Check out our growing series of Women in RPA profiles here.