Wednesday, 19 February 2020 15:41

Interest in standalone RPA waning, says Pegasystems exec

Pegasystems ANZ vice president Michael Evans Pegasystems ANZ vice president Michael Evans

Interest in standalone robotic process automation (RPA) has been waning over the last 12-18 months, according to Pegasystems ANZ vice president Michael Evans.

"Robotics is fantastic technology" especially for time-consuming tasks, he told iTWire, but RPA isn't as easy as it sounds. Issues include governance, keeping robots on track, scaling, security, and infrastructure requirements.

In Australia, 33% of RPA projects were not completed on time, and 40% of RPA users report that managing robots is more resource-intensive than they expected, Evans said.

RPA can deliver quick wins on simple tasks, but "robotics don't really fulfil an entire digital transformation agenda."

It is a point solution rather than a platform, and consequently has not delivered everything people hoped for.

This echoes the observation made last October by Pegasystems vice-president of digital automation and robotics Francis Carden that "RPA needs to be part of something else."

To achieve transformation, organisations have to determine what they want to achieve, and then identify the technology that can help to do that.

That's where technologies such as the Pega platform come in.

For example, if the goal is to process loan applications more quickly, all of the parts of that procedure must be examined. Pega's open architecture and low-code development system provides "welded in" robotics capability while being able to integrate with existing applications.

Solving complex business problems requires an agile approach, and may call for a variety of robots deployed in different ways to automate processes such as data capture and email automation.

So organisations are rethinking their projects, looking more deeply at what they are trying to achieve, and hence at Pega and other products.

National Australia Bank is "one of the shining lights," Evans said. NAB uses Pega as part of a transformation aimed at making things simpler and faster for customers. In particular, it helps to determine how efficiently work is being performed, to optimise the workforce through RPA, and automatically create, route and allocate cases from any channel to the teams that will do the work.

More generally, he said, "robots are important" but the focus should be first on the desired outcomes and only then on the technologies and products that will help achieve them.

Where it is suitable, Pega's combination of integration, orchestration and robots in a single platform provides faster time to value, Evans told iTWire.

Disclosure: The writer holds NAB shares.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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