Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in 2020: 5 trends to watch

Robotic process automation (RPA) doesn’t sneak up on many people anymore. It’s already a hot topic in IT and business circles: Gartner pegged RPA as the fastest-growing enterprise software category last year, and there are plenty of other numbers that speak to widespread interest in the technology already. Don’t bet on that interest fading much in 2020. “The RPA market will continue its rapid growth in 2020 as more enterprises come to understand both the power of process automation overall and the number of legacy processes for which RPA is an effective answer,” says Aaron Bultman, director of product at Nintex. That said, Bultman and other RPA experts note there are some reality checks in store as organizations build out a broader automation strategy. Some might learn the hard way, for example, that not every process is an ideal fit for RPA. Let’s take a peek at some of the key RPA trends to watch in the year ahead. In other words, while RPA interest has been high for a while, actual adoption is now catching up. That’s reflected in forecasted spending on RPA software, which is en route to becoming a billion-dollar category in 2020. Gartner projects spending on RPA software to hit $1.3 billion this year. Forrester, meanwhile, has predicted the RPA software market to total $2.9 billion in 2021. “The RPA market will also undergo a reality check in 2020 as enterprises pursuing digital transformation become more aware of the differences among processes, the range of automation technologies available, and the importance of using the right tool for the job,” Bultman says. For example, Bultman notes, because RPA can mimic human keystrokes and mouse movements, it’s often a fit for computer-based processes that can’t be accessed via API. But for those processes that do support APIs, there may be better forms of automation.

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