Transforma Insights today published its Robotic Process Automation Technology Insight Report 2021, which examines the evolution of this small but critical element of digital transformation, and one of the first ways that many enterprises will experience simple machine learning. The key reason for companies using RPA is clear: to automate IT-based tasks that would have previously been undertaken by a human. Typically, this is by way of bots that track and replicate human behaviour. The aim is to increase accuracy of processes, save costs and improve productivity.
Transforma Insights expects the total market spend on RPA will increase from USD1.2 billion in 2020 to USD13 billion in 2030. Market growth peaks in 2027, although total annual market value continues to grow throughout the forecast period. Gradually the requirement for RPA, which is a ‘brownfield’ technology, diminishes as alternative forms of native automation start to reduce the importance of retrofitting a solution to legacy practices. For instance, a process for handling incoming invoices may well be replaced by a fully automated system with no need to replicate a human’s activities.
In 2025 we expect ‘Professional, Scientific & Technical’ (which includes legal and accounting businesses), ‘Information & Communication’ and ‘Finance & Insurance’ to be the largest sectors. These three are, today, in the vanguard of adopters, using RPA to streamline core processes particularly related to document handling.
By 2030, the manufacturing sector will have overtaken the others to be the biggest sector, accounting for 19% of the entire market. This shift reflects mostly the size of the manufacturing sector (which accounts for 17% of the world’s economy), but also the increasing use of alternative automation capabilities for the early adopting sectors. It should be noted also that the use cases are overwhelmingly not specific to the vertical, for instance relating to invoicing, document processing or data management.
The most active region for RPA is North America, accounting for 35% of global spend in 2030 (down from over 50% in 2020). Europe will represent 26% of global spend in 2030. China accounts for only 17% of global spend in 2030, while Japan (with only a tenth the population) accounts for 9%. The dynamic is quite clear: markets with more entrenched low automation IT systems will have a greater requirement for brownfield RPA solutions.
As well as the forecasts, the report also examines key use cases (including accounting, administration, customer care and HR), the experience of companies that have adopted RPA (based on the analysis of hundreds of deployments from our Best Practice & Vendor Selection Database) and the likely evolution of the market.
The latter topic is critical. As noted above, RPA is typically applied only to legacy systems. As greater process automation is introduced to IT systems, the requirement for the retro-fit brownfield version inevitably diminishes. Similarly, there is only a limited number of processes to be replaced. Inevitably RPA will eventually become redundant. This necessitates a shift from the vendors to focus on tasks that require more creative problem solving through greater use of machine learning (variously know as Intelligent Automation or Cognitive RPA).
Transforma Insights is a leading research firm focused on the world of Digital Transformation (DX). Led by seasoned technology industry analysts we provide advice, recommendations and decision support tools for organisations seeking to understand how new technologies will change the markets in which they operate.