With robotic process automation (RPA) fast becoming the industry norm, more and more banks and credit unions are already taking the next step in their digital transformation: RPA platform migration.
Migration was perhaps inevitable given both the way in which the automation market has evolved and the constant need to deliver the returns and scale originally promised by RPA. To date, financial institutions have tended to use multiple automation vendors primarily because different lines of business within the same organization deployed RPA at different times. This has led to a siloed approach in which one department implementedan RPA platform which it deemed to be best for its specific needswhile another department within the same organization determineda different platform was a better fit for its work.
While not necessarily a bad thing, a siloed approach to RPA typically means that visibility, control, governance, and change management are also siloed. That potentially can create problems since all RPA platforms are proprietary. The way a bot is developed in one platform isn’t the same as how it is developed in another. This can contribute to disparate automation design practices and a lack of quality, as well as added effort and higher costs since the organization is now paying for multiple platforms.
Given this, how does a bank or credit union know when the time is right to migrate to a single, more effective RPA platform? While every institution is different, there are several tell-tale signs that the timeto consider RPA migration might be now.
- Automation Delivery Takes Too Long – RPA was sold on its ability to scale and realize meaningful returns in the form of cost reduction and increased task quality and efficiency. Unfortunately, the time to delivery is still too long for many RPA platforms, leaving automation initiatives floundering and requests for increased investment and resources ignored because the current bot portfolio has yet to deliver on the advantages RPA initially promised.
- The RPA Platform Was Oversold – Numerous RPA platforms were sold on the idea that a citizen developer – i.e., a technically proficient business user – could drive and deliver automation. While it was a nice concept, it failed to deliver in practice. At its core, RPA is complex software development and the technical skills needed for business users to deliver automation were simply too high. This frequently has led to an inability to scale, which in turn has inhibited the ability to achieve return on investment.
- Crippling RPA Maintenance Prevents Meaningful Returns –Bots are a lot more brittle than initially advertised. As a result, many banks and credit unions are experiencing near-constant break-fix cycles. To avoid the outages and errors caused by these cycles, both of which serve to keep costs high and prevent scaling, some institutions are turning to RPA platforms which feature more resilient bots and governance, change management, and impact analysis capabilities.
- RPA Upgrades Are Impossible – In some instances, financial organizations are finding it difficult to upgrade to newer versions of their current RPA platforms. This is forcing banks and credit unions to make the choicebetween rebuilding their entire digital workforces from scratch in order to be compatible with the upgraded version of their existing platform or finding a more agile RPA platform.
Any (or perhaps all) of these drawbacks have convinced many institutions that the time is right to migrate to a single automation platform. While this can be a daunting undertaking, particularly given the presence of more than 60 RPA vendors now on the market, it is the four leading automation platforms – UiPath, Blue Prism, Automation Anywhere, and Microsoft Power Automate – that seem best positioned to take advantage of this trend in 2022.
The range of features and capabilities these four providers package into their platforms is increasing, including key pieces of the automation toolchain such as process discovery tools. They also share both similarities and marked differences in the way in which automated processes are built, impacting the complexity of bot migrations.
At present, UiPath has the most activities available out of the box. Bot creation is done by dragging and dropping activities on a graphical canvas. Thisfunctionality enables a more sequence-driven structure. The UiPath platform also makes different best practice frameworks available to design automations, including a robotic enterprise framework which allows enterprise-grade automations to be built through a state-machine-based template.
Like UiPath, Blue Prism also uses a graphical interface. In contrast, though, Blue Prism follows a layered process and object model in which automation applications are initially modeled and defined in the Object Studio, while process logic is created in the Process Studio.
Automation Anywherefeatures simple drag-and-drop actions and highly guided parameters for constructing each line of command. It is purposefully low code/pseudo code and runs in a linear, step-by-step fashion, making it particularly appealing to those with little or no coding experience.
The newest member of the RPA platform leaders, Microsoft Power Automate Desktop, leverages a similar structure to Automation Anywhere and boasts an intuitive user interface and user-friendly drag-and-drop experience that enables users to quickly build attended bots. It differs, however, in that its variables are designated as Input or Output types and are tied to the groups of commands for given processes. Power Automate also allows files to be saved directly into a cloud repository.
Naturally, these similarities and differences will impact not only each institution’s decision as to which vendor is right for them, but also the complexity of the migration. So too will the increasingly popular consumption-based pricing models, such as pricing based on timed utilization of bots, free RPA components out of the box, or unlimited bots at a fixed price. Such competitive pricing models will further encourage the shift to a single, centralized RPA platform, while enabling smaller and mid-sized banks and credit unions to launch their own RPA efforts.
One thing is certain in the year ahead. With banks and credit unions looking to maximize their return on RPA investment and automation platforms becoming more user-friendly, more institutions will be looking to migrate their digital workforces in 2022 in order to fully leverage the advantages originally promised by RPA.
As President and Chief Executive Officer at Blueprint Software Systems, Dan Shimmerman is responsible for establishing Blueprint’s Enterprise Automation Suite as the world’s most powerful digital process capture, design, and management solution. With a passion for helping organizations to more efficiently design and build digital solutions that drive their digital transformation and the achievement of business goals, Dan has a proven track record of success in delivering strategic vision, execution, and value for all stakeholders. Prior to joining Blueprint, he was the President and CEO of Varicent Software, a global provider of sales performance management solutions that was acquired by IBM in 2012. For more information, visit https://www.blueprintsys.com/