Automation is taking the market by storm. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 40 per cent of data science tasks will be automated, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Simply put, businesses are turning to automation to reduce costs, increase productivity, and gain a competitive advantage. Yet, numerous challenges remain, especially for those businesses in the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector.
Raj Mehta, CEO of Raj Technologies said "Most SMEs lack the expertise to even consider deploying technologies such as RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and AI powered digital assistants, which could translate to a big opportunity for those with the know-how".
Mehta is correct, the SME community, which is serviced by systems integrators, solution providers, and other channel-powered entities, normally requires assistance to achieve automation goals. Yet a foundational challenge remains even for those solution providers seeking to build out automation services.
"You have to crawl before you can run, and that means you must become an expert in designing workflows," said Mehta.
A workflow is a fundamental process that dictates the steps to achieve a goal. That lofty description aside, workflows have been used for centuries by businesses and have become digitized over the last few decades, with numerous workflow tools coming from leading vendors.
Many solution providers may have first encountered the workflow ideology back in the days when Microsoft's Sharepoint first came on the scene, which offered rudimentary tools for routing content through various steps. Of course, the workflows in use today have become much more complex, requiring designers to not only know how to script actions, but also understand the overall goal of those actions.
It is a simple truth understood well by Workfront, a Lehi, Utah based vendor of workflow solutions, which is also looking to better engage with the channel to create workflow automation opportunities. The company's primary product also goes by the name of Workfront, and uses a platform-based approach for creating workflows that can be integrated across multiple technologies, bringing centralized workflow orchestration to a vast number of use cases.
Paige Erickson, Workfront's SVP of business development, said "Solution providers are very important to us. We have grown our partner influenced revenue from less than three per cent in 2016 to 20 per cent of new business and growth ARR in 2018. Partners who have built practices and business based on Workfront have been instrumental in many of our biggest deals. Last year, six out of the top 10 deals were done with the assistance of a partner."
Tools like Workfront fit well into the automation equation by creating the foundation of workflows.
"Leveraging Workfront, we have been able to provide exceptional advantage to our clients," said Glenn Coward, president and CEO at CapabilitySource.
"By combining Workfront with other integrated systems we achieve operational transformations that go far beyond our clients' initial needs. Workfront is the golden arrow in our solutions quiver."
However, workflow design is only one part of the automation equation. Other elements must be considered such as demand management, resource management, project templates, policies, and scripted actions. Efficient workflow tools should also incorporate task lists, collaboration capabilities, and reporting.
Many businesses are leveraging workflow solutions on their path to digital transformation and bringing once manual processes into a world where automation can be applied. While some may argue over the intricacies of digital workflows and how those workflows fit into BPM (business process management), one truth remains evident: the goal is to digitally transform and introduce automation, which in turn indicates that RPA becomes the next logical step.
Grand View Research offers "the global robotic process automation (RPA) market size was valued at $597.5m in 2018 and is expected to register a CAGR of 31.1 per cent over the forecast period. Increasing demand for business process automation (BPA) through the use of AI and software robots is anticipated to be the key growth driver. Improving core business with RPA enables an organization to streamline IT and business operations."
RPA paired with workflow design may prove to be a very profitable niche for solution providers willing to tackle the associated complexities and bring forth solutions to what may turn out to be a very large market segment.
Ty David contributed to this article
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