RPA: The Next Chapter In The Automation Story

August 18, 2021  |  Mark Hillary

I recently participated in a really interesting discussion on Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with the industry analyst Peter Ryan and two of the team from IBA Group. Dimitri Denissiouk is the Managing Director at IBA South Africa and Sergey Zlobich is a Project Manager at IBA Group in Minsk.

I recently wrote about one part of the discussion – on citizen developers – you can read that article here. I wrote that before the video was edited and published so I wanted to contribute another blog now that comments on the broader discussion.

It’s worth saying right from the start that this was a very practical discussion. There are many webinars and debates that explore the theories around RPA and automation more generally, but this one dives straight into the pros and cons of working with RPA.

Dimitri sets the tone in his comments on the benefits of RPA.

“There are even less obvious benefits that RPA can bring, for instance, reducing the risk because otherwise you would need to integrate two business applications and this is the risk of an impact on the existing environment. RPA projects are generally low-risk and non-invasive. They don’t disturb existing systems. Another non-obvious benefit is minimizing the exposure to sensitive data because now the robot works with the documents that may contain some private or sensitive data instead of humans so there is less risk of exposure to this data.”

Dimitri DenissioukManaging Director at IBA South Africa
I liked this approach.

Instead of just focusing on the obvious benefits, Dmitri really explored the question in more detail.

Sergey emphasized the non-invasive nature of RPA when he said: “I would like to add that we all think of RPA of as a tool to improve some existing business processes and make them better, smoother, but actually the technology also allows to introduce a brand new customer experience. It is faster than usual human processing. With a usual business process, it would be submitting requests and then after some time coming with a response that could be implemented at the same time. I mean with a short waiting time, which is measured in seconds instead of hours, so that is also a great benefit that technology can provide.”

The citizen developer debate was covered in my earlier blog, but Sergey continued the theme when talking about the need to create an RPA center of excellence inside the business. He said: “Let’s make it short. When we are talking about a Center of Excellence, we should not think about a fixed structure. It’s an evolution. And in the very beginning of that evolution, it is very reasonable to involve some external vendors who will bring their expertise to help set it up fast and to a minimum required level. But then, ideally, I think that each organization should try to make it in-house. I like the idea of a hybrid center of excellence. When you have some people in the center of excellence in-house and some are offshore developers, that should work and that is perfectly fine.”

As we summed up the potential future for RPA, Peter made some interesting points.

“There’s going to be a lot more development in terms of that unattended element and the ability to learn from what previous tasks have been. Equally, I think that automation is going to be a lot more straightforward, not just for the individuals that implement the solutions for a client, but also for those who manage them. I think they’re going to be a lot more intuitive, a lot more user friendly to the point where somebody who perhaps doesn’t have a great development or technology background will be in a position to administer them.”

Peter RyanIT industry analyst

That sounds like an exciting future. RPA that anyone can use. For now, though, it’s probably best to keep calling the experts and all my fellow panelists on this discussion really contributed some great ideas – check out the link below.

To watch the RPA discussion on YouTube please click here.

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