Mark Hilary: Exploring RPA Developments in Snowy Belarus
I went to Minsk in Belarus recently, taking myself from a gorgeous Brazilian summer into the depths of winter. The journey was worthwhile though. I’ve been following many of the service companies in Eastern Europe for years and I have watched how many of them have blended IT Outsourcing with Business Process Outsourcing and customer experience (CX) expertise. In the modern environment, delivering great CX usually needs technology expertise so it’s no surprise that some of the IT-focused companies are now involved in CX.
IBA Group is one company that has been on this journey. What I was really surprised to hear was how advanced their Robotic Process Automation (RPA) expertise has developed – their approach to RPA is not typical. They have experience of delivering real projects to real clients in multiple countries using the top 4 RPA software platforms.
Now contrast this to the typical RPA story in the media. Robo-bosses, robots taking over, and other mentions of robots replacing humans. When reading about RPA we usually read hype and grand claims of digital transformation, often from experts or IT companies with very little track record in this area. Yet IBA has been quietly developing expertise in all the major RPA platforms all over the world and there is no hype at all. They have just been getting on with the job – which is quite a contrast to the usual obsession brands have with PR.
RPA is now (almost) a $2bn a year marketplace and it’s growing fast. This area of business is only going to get more important as we move further into 2019. HFS predicts that we are looking at $2.3bn revenue in RPA technologies in 2019 and this will grow to $4.3bn by 2022.
Traditionally HFS has been the least bullish of the analyst community. For a long time they criticised analysts such as Gartner for hyping the RPA market, but now even the HFS predictions look exciting. Gartner predicts that spending on RPA software is growing around 57% year on year, which is a phenomenal increase for any market, but what is really interesting is how all the analysts seem to be agreeing that RPA is no longer in the Hype Cycle and is now being accepted as a regular business process automation tool. Even the forward projections of Gartner to 2022 feature year-on-year growth of 41% – RPA has arrived.
When I arrived at IBA, I never expected to hear such a solid RPA success story – case study after case study of real RPA deliveries. This makes a change from the usual hype. Hype by analysts can draw attention to interesting new technologies, but RPA has been around for a few years now so any serious supplier should be able to point to real case studies. It’s no longer acceptable to talk about this and not have any examples of success.
The RPA world is full of false promises. HFS Research has been a vocal critic of the RPA hot air and fake news for the past few years, but even they now acknowledge that there are real solutions being delivered that are adding value all over the world. I witnessed this up close in Belarus and I’m now finding more and more examples of successful RPA projects on my LinkedIn timeline. The robots really have arrived, but this time there is no hype, just real business benefits and an improved customer experience.