Despite it being a starting point for many organizations, RPA’s benefits are limited without a broader strategy for business process management and automation. Many businesses are now learning this the hard way, as they try to leverage RPA as a driver for transformation but find its transformative powers fairly limiting without more resources to supplement it.
Limitations And Challenges Of Standalone RPA Initiatives
• Not evolutionary — as processes grow, RPA has no way of growing with you.
• Creates small gains at the task level but few gains enterprise-wide.
• Limited tech stack leaves valuable unstructured data out of scope.
• Contributes to technical debt.
• Delivers incomplete process improvement.
Let’s try to figure out when RPA is not enough.
RPA is an excellent tool when used as part of a journey-mapped strategy for automation, but without some kind of an accompanying roadmap, the results are often superficial. In fact, the technology industry itself is shifting in recognition of this. Gartner predicts that by 2024, technology mega-vendors will feature hyperautomation technologies that go well beyond RPA, rendering 60% of the standalone RPA market offerings redundant.
With the tumults of 2020 fading in the rearview, businesses should take this opportunity to refocus their efforts rather than rely solely on RPA, leveraging a range of tools — process mining, analytics, machine learning, and the like — that work together to drive business outcomes. Think of it like this: You might be able to plant one bush or even a garden bed with a single gardening shovel, but you cannot expect to redesign your home’s entire landscaping with it. When we talk about process design, RPA is your shovel. It is a great tool for specific reasons, but it is not a singular driver of transformation.