A new year brings about new possibilities in the world of automation. As we look back at 2021 and look ahead, we can establish many predictive trends emerging for 2022. In the past few years, continuous and significant developments have been made in the automation industry. If the new year can guarantee us anything, it’s that it shows no signs of slowing down. Wider adoptions, more rapid growth, and consistent and improved efficiency prove to be a theme for many years to come.
According to McKinsey, automation has cropped up as the top trend in technology. With excitement and a growing need for future investments in the technology, more discussion has arisen on how to effectively strategize and increase spending around automation for many organizations.
C-Suite Steps Up to Implement More Automation
Automation has typically been in the hands of the Information Technology (IT) team leaders, responsible for spreading this technology to other teams as needed. However, with the emergence of low or no-code developmental platforms, this has become the main responsibility of those in leadership. Executive leaders such as Chief Information Officers (CIOs) will soon be taking more control, implementing more cross-functional teams that can prove the technology’s return on investment (ROI) for enterprises, customers, and employees alike.
A Gartner survey has recently shown that more than 80% of organizations will continue or increase their spending on automation technologies. CIOs will soon focus on what technology to standardize, balancing centralized initiatives and individual team member initiatives, what capabilities need to be built out, and ensuring governance, security, and quality, all while keeping revenue in mind.
The addition of Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs) has been a growing trend in more and more companies. These officers are discovering that technology-based solutions, such as automation, can help their missions, and many CSOs have begun partnering with CIOs to create green organizations. In a Gartner survey, more than 85% of CIOs said that they were involved in their organization’s sustainability initiatives.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Leads the Way
Robotic process automation (RPA) platforms are projected to be the centralized technology from which others will expand on in 2022, beating out similar automation technology options such as business process automation (BPA), integration platforms as a service (iPaaS), low-code application platforms (LCAPs), and artificial intelligence (AI).
According to UiPath, RPAs are software technologies that can easily build, deploy, and manage software robots that emulate human actions, and interact with digital systems and software. Software robots, much like humans, can understand what’s on a screen, complete the proper keystrokes, navigate systems, identify and extract data, and perform a wide range of defined actions.
The adoption of RPAs continues to grow. In 2020, RPA was the fastest-growing segment of the enterprise software market, a near 39% increase to $1.9 billion in revenue. What works in RPAs favor is a strong lead in UI automation, critical for automating many other processes that are typically difficult for other technologies to master. In 2022 and beyond, RPAs are trending towards more robust offerings and deep integrations into their platform, and an investment in interoperability with other automation technologies.
Centralized, Task-Based Workflows and Deployment Centers of Excellence (CoEs) Teams
With this increase in robotic automation, the continued emergence of centralized, “just-in-time” task workflows will begin, in lieu of workers using several different business applications. This “virtual assembly line” will remove much of the complexity and fragmentation of opening, closing, and navigating several different workflow systems, and free team members to focus on more important work. The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that by 2024, “25% of new employee-facing application development will be displaced by codeless development of discrete tasks that are assigned just in time to workers paired with robot assistants.”
What about implementation, or the often lack of success with most technology adoptions? One study of AI professionals showed that 64% said it took their organizations at least a month to implement a new model, while 20% said six months or more. When it comes to this last mile of technology execution, automation CoE teams have been shown to be of value.
Tasked with this last mile of deployment, more companies have been utilizing these teams to get a tighter grip on utilizing automation for action-based tasks, decision-making, and analysis. More and more enterprise-grade platforms allow AI and machine learning (ML) models to be quickly inserted directly into workflows. Human-in-the-loop feedback can support continuous model improvement, as well as automated data extraction, transformation, and quality assurance (QA). For governance and compliance, centralized monitoring, management, and complete audit trails have shown to be a major support.
In 2022 and beyond, automation will continue to cement itself as an essential technology. With an ever-expanding ecosystem, it’s clear to see that the technology will grow, improve efficiency, and serve as the enterprise platform for many companies and organizations for years to come.