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March 15 2021
While Europe and North America boast extensive experience in deployment of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), the same is not the case for Asia-Pacific regions, which has only recently begun to welcome automation technologies into the market. Enterprise RPA, for example, wasn't a known concept in China until it was introduced by the Big Four accounting firms approximately three years ago. Nevertheless, the delayed start is not necessarily indicative of continued backwardness. In fact, the high demand for digital transformation, and therefore, intelligent automation (IA) has led the Asia-Pacific RPA market to witness exponential growth.
In the recently published Forrester report, The State of RPA Maturity in Asia Pacific, Asia was described as "a hotbed of RPA potential". The report suggested that this was because firms are beginning to notice high potential for RPA and IA tools to positively transform their back-office processes. In addition, there has been an increase in RPA awareness as a result of local investments in the region along with the emergence of new vendors like Laiye.
Three Types of Users in Asia-Pacific
RPA Market Offshore Captives Run Scaled-out Global Automation Hubs
The first type is mainly the offshore branches of large multinational corporations, which are mostly concentrated in India and Philippines. These companies begun their RPA deployment before the explosive growth of Asia-Pacific RPA market. Subsequently, they became "robotic hubs" for their parent entity and global business units.
First-wave Adopters have Seen Early Success but Struggle with Scale
As the early customers in the Asia-Pacific market that began deploying RPA in the past three years, they successfully overcame challenges such as accurately identifying the suitable processes to be automated and correctly managing automation programs. At this stage, such type of customers shifted their focus towards scaling RPA for large scale projects.
Second-wave Adopters Set New Expectations from the Market
With the growth of Asia-Pacific RPA market, a considerable number of enterprises have realized the extensive benefits of RPA and embarked on their own automation journeys, hoping to discover their own rhythm for digital transformation and even overtake leading players in the market.
“Accordingly, new entrants look for lower risk in implementation, better solution support, and accelerated deployment through solutions with AI components or prebuilt integrations from their vendor partners.”
——《The State Of Robotic Process Automation Maturity In Asia Pacific》
Benefits and Insights from RPA Deployment
Move Human Labor to Higher-Value Tasks and Improve Employee Productivity
RPA signifies robots working alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. RPA vendors emphasize the use of bots to liberate staff from tedious, monotonous work and enable them to focus on valued-added work, while also increasing efficiency and saving costs.
When asked,"What are the primary drivers of your organization's adoption of RPA?", the top three answers were: "move human labor to higher-value tasks", "improve employee productivity", and "improve customer experience".
In response to "What are the most significant benefits you have achieved with RPA?", the most popular replies were cost savings from higher efficiency, improved capacity to serve higher volumes of transactions, business digitalization or digital transformation, and fewer manual errors.
Governance Models and Best Practices are Yet to Converge
In the Forrester report, more than half of the respondents reported measurable benefits from RPA deployment, yet only 24% said that their RPA planning and deployment is overseen by Center of Excellence (CoE). In addition, Forrester views automation across APAC to be "largely an efficiency and cost takeout play rather than a transformation play".
Expectation of the RPA Development and Industry
AI Use Cases Attract Attention
AI-Powered RPA offers more possibilities with broader applicability. In Forrester's survey, more than half of the companies successfully automated low-level tasks and utilized AI functionalities, including document analysis, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and Natural language Processing (NLP). However, only 24% of the companies could apply process management and digital employee analysis to achieve process mining.
"There's a lot of interest in AI use cases such as RPA integrated with document analytics, optical character recognition, and natural language, whereas the use of process mining or digital worker analytics tools for process discovery is yet to pick up speed."
——《The State Of Robotic Process Automation Maturity In Asia Pacific》
RPAaaS and Cloud for RPA is Growing
While "RPA" and "Cloud" may not be new words, "RPA on cloud" could be a new territory. Among the respondents, 53% said that they had not fully applied all of their purchased robots in their businesses. Nearly half of the respondents mentioned that part or most of their RPA infrastructure was in private or public cloud or was hosted by an external party and provided as a managed service. RPAaaS presents a strong appeal for new entrants to gain automation value without substantial investment, and the "Pay as You Need" feature of cloud can also win over customers' hearts.
Evolve Your Approach to Governance with Automation Strike Teams
Forrester recommends organizations to create and ensure the presence of CoE and automatic strike teams. APAC firms have a long way to go in establishing models for businesses and IT to collaborate for ensuring seamless automation. While many are still on the journey towards a federated CoE model, automation strike teams form an agile bridge between traditional IT and domain experts.
Treat Automation as an Ecosystem
"Follow a broad strategy that focuses on automation that goes beyond but includes RPA."
——《Inquiry Spotlight: Forrester's RPA Inquiries Reveal Activity But Low Maturity》
Craig Le Clair
With the rapidly developing Asia Pacific market, Forrester predicts that the combination of RPA and new technologies will bring great value, broaden RPA applicability through AI and ultimately achieve end-to-end automation. Moreover, emerging technologies such as process mining and process intelligence will facilitate data-driven process identification and rationalization.
Founded in 2015, Laiye helps businesses achieve more, reach their full potential, and transform into smarter, more effective, efficient, productive enterprises. Laiye helps businesses and people realize their full potential by optimizing the human-machine collaborative alliance with sophisticated, dynamic, productivity-enhancing digital "workforce solutions". Laiye delivers the deepest, most advanced AI/RPA/NLP solutions to help businesses become more efficient, effective, agile, and successful. And it frees people to focus on meaningful, innovative, mission-critical initiatives.
Core technologies include robotic process automation (RPA), process mining, natural language processing (NLP), conversational intelligence, text recognition, and image recognition.