19 Mar, 2019· read

The evolution of automation - what next for RPA?

Just in case you hadn’t noticed, robotic process automation (RPA) has taken the business and IT world by storm. In actual fact, that is something of an understatement. The RPA market has grown exponentially over the last few years, confounding all estimates. In 2016 the market was valued at $600m, hit $1.7bn in 2018 and is now estimated to reach $2.3bn in 2019 and over $4bn by 2022 (HfS, November 2018).


There are predictions that this unprecedented growth can’t last. Although the potential for a catastrophic crash in the market seems unlikely, bearing in mind that automation has been around since the 1990s, there are indications that the market is reaching a point where a step change is required for the evaluation to continue at pace.

While many businesses have started their automation journey with RPA software, there are reports that many are struggling to find ways to link processes and scale software robots beyond the initial implementation. RPA has been very successful at automating the relatively simple and repeatable processes in the back office, with a primary focus on cost reduction, but truly automating full business processes and functions to realise a greater breadth of benefits such as productivity, service and compliance are rarely achieved with RPA alone. The challenge arises when processes become more dynamic, involve complex decision making, use multiple input variables and include escalation points, typically to human experts.

The solution is to take advantage of the possibilities that automation and artificial intelligence (AI) offer and evolve the skills and capabilities of software robots, making them smarter and able to automate greater degrees of complexity and scale. Moving from robotic process automation to intelligent automation.


This evolution is already underway, with many of the RPA vendors beginning to utilise more advanced AI capabilities to enhance their robots. For example, Blue Prism has identified key intelligent skills that are involved in making a software robot smarter.

Meet DEX - the ultimate 'go-to' workmate

At XR we create Digital Experts (or DEX for short). Users can train their Digital Experts with intelligent skills, such as;

Complex decision making – the ability to apply human-like reasoning to turn complex problems into explainable decisions, actions and controls. Based on human knowledge but combined with real-time data analysis and AI.

Learning – the ability to combine learning from both humans and data; using machine learning of historic data to improve predictability, and capturing multiple cycles of human experience, reasoning and judgment.

Human to robot collaboration – the ability to engage and assist customers and to allow the digital and human workforce to collaborate intelligently to solve problems by holding conversations through multiple channels.

Optimisation – the ability to understand how all inputs, constraints and conditions impact an outcome and then carry out the optimal settings and conditions to achieve the desired outcome while respecting constraints.

When these intelligence skills are combined the Digital Experts have the capability to automate more complex tasks, they become the go-to for RPA bots, making solutions smarter and allowing RPA to overcome the barriers to scale.

Over the next two weeks we will discuss a couple of practical examples of where these skills have been combined to create Digital Experts that provide significant business benefit.

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