As part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series—a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories—and the 4th Annual WorkTech Insight Jam, Dan Shimmerman, the President and CEO of Blueprint Software Systems, outlines where intelligent automation technology could go in 2023.
2022 was an eventful year for intelligent automation and RPA. From the rise of Microsoft Power Automate to the emergence of cloud-native automation platforms, it seems clear that investment in automation is only going to grow as organizations continue to look for more cost-effective platforms. With that in mind, what will 2023 hold in store for automation?
While anything could happen, given rising concerns about the economy, it seems likely that the New Year will see Microsoft Power Automate emerge as an undisputed RPA and intelligent automation leader. While a relatively new entrant into the automation wars, Microsoft now offers a cost-effective solution that delivers automation at scale because of its ease of use and everyone’s familiarity with Microsoft products and user interface. Power Automate is also cloud-ready and a true intelligent automation platform with an AI Builder capability and AI-enhanced workflows. However, what truly sets it apart from competitors is that Power Automate enables companies to expand their automation practice beyond RPA to the entire Power Platform.
Following close behind is Automation Anywhere, whose Automation 360 solution now represents a prime example of a next-generation, cloud-native, and web-based intelligent automation solution. Built from the ground up with all the learning amassed from Automation Anywhere’s legacy product, Automation 360 offers a host of benefits, from reduced ownership costs and a shift to API-centric automation to a more intuitive user experience and built-in AI and machine learning. It also provides 1,200 pre-built bots, packages, and digital workers from Automation Anywhere’s Bot Store.
The emergence of these two automation leaders will spur even more estate migrations onto next-generation intelligent automation platforms in 2023. As automation programs have matured, an increasing number of companies recognized over the past year that the legacy tools on which they started their RPA journeys are falling short. Faced with escalating costs, a higher degree of technical complexity that often overwhelms available IT resources, and high maintenance and support costs, numerous companies switched platforms to reduce operational expenses, leverage better features, improve capabilities, and enable scale.
Expect this trend to explode in the year ahead as more and more organizations recognize that powerful, cost-effective automation solutions are readily available to help them migrate their entire automation estates rather than taking on such a shift manually. Cloud readiness is also driving automation as more companies look to move beyond on-premises deployments to the cloud and web-based interfaces.
As automation estate migrations become increasingly commonplace, 2023 will likely see organizations further along in their automation journeys begin using digital twins. Defined as a digital representation of a process, service, or physical object that can be updated with real-time data to enhance improvement efforts, digital twins are already being used extensively in the manufacturing and engineering sectors.
Recognizing the benefits digital twins provide in those sectors, automation leaders now set their sights on using that application for their automated processes. By giving both accurate documentation for an organization’s entire automation estate and detailed audit trails which provide insight into the evolution of all current automations, maintaining a digital twin for automation in a separate repository solves many of the challenges automation programs are currently encountering, from limited performance visibility to reactive change management. They also have the potential to deliver benefits like dramatically accelerating the continuous improvement cycle for improved effectiveness and better returns.
Finally, while arguably still in its infancy, using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to realize intelligent automation will see a broader application in the year ahead. A growing number of companies indicate their desire to automate more complex, end-to-end business processes that are decision-based rather than just the rule-based tasks that RPA tackles. With next-generation intelligent automation platforms providing built-in AI and machine learning capabilities to automate more complete business processes, 2023 will be the year that catapults automation into its next evolution: intelligent automation.
Bottom line, automation will not only continue to grow in the New Year but will be hyper-charged with an eye toward the looming recession. Obviously, projections on automation’s total addressable market have indicated exponential growth well into the future, so predicting its continued growth is not exactly risky. In 2023, however, the anticipated global recession analysts see coming appears likely to accelerate that growth rate rapidly.
In the face of crisis, automation has been a solution that organizations have relied on to address novel and spontaneous challenges. That was true during the pandemic and will be the case in the face of a recession to counteract a contracted workforce brought on by forced cost reductions. Automation delivery will intensify to deal with the burden of absorbing operational business tasks that don’t have the manual bandwidth to be executed.
One thing is sure: based on what the world of automation has shown us over the past few years, change is the one constant we can depend on in 2023.
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