Anirban Ghoshal
Senior Writer

ROI expected to boost enterprise spending on RPA

Mar 07, 20224 mins
Robotic Process Automation

Pandemic-induced demand for automation will fuel the market for RPA (robotic process automation) software to $22 billion in 2025, according to Forrester, but growth will flatten as a broader mix of automation technology it calls "automation fabric" is adopted.

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Return on investment (ROI) in the form of both cost and time savings is expected to boost the RPA (robotic process automation) software and services market from $13.9 billion to $22 billion by 2025, a new report from Forrester shows.

“It is the very direct ROI that still attracts enterprises or C-suite executives,” said Leslie Joseph, principal analyst at Forrester. “RPA continues to be compelling since pre-pandemic because you have a raft of legacy applications that don’t typically allow for automation,” Joseph said.

The report, which divvies up the RPA market into software and services, expects the software market to grow from $2.4 billion in 2021 to reach $6.5 billion by 2025. The growth will be fueled by pandemic-induced automation demand and the ongoing push for digital transformation programs through 2022, before slightly flattening due to technology evolution and inflation in 2023.

Increasing complexity of RPA software, along with the push for industry-specific applications  from pure-play RPA vendors such as Blue Prism, UiPath, and Automation Anywhere in search of differentiation, will drive RPA adoption, fueling segment growth in the next few years, Joseph said.

RPA services market to reach $16 billion

The RPA services market is expected to increase from $11.5 billion in 2021 to reach $16 billion by 2025, backed by major consultancies, global systems integrators, and business process outsourcers who in turn have a track record of using RPA not only to support cost reduction, but also to extend their clients’ broader transformation goals.

The report, which further divides the services market into implementation services (60%) and consulting (40%), which includes strategy, process selection and governance, forecasts that spending on consulting and support will decline as integrated product capabilities start to show maturity and cloud deployment and as-a-service models drive down support costs.

North America and Europe are expected to dominate RPA growth, followed by Asia-Pacific, which Joseph said was “catching up fast.” Financial services, followed by public services and healthcare, will lead RPA adoption.  

RPA to evolve to automation fabric

While the report expects to see RPA growth flatten from 2023, Joseph said that uptake of RPA will be replaced by what Forrester calls automation fabric — a broad weave of technology via platforms that bring together current automation options such as BPM (business process management), RPA, low-code development software, iPaaS (integration platform as a service), and AI — in order to enable employees to orchestrate workflow as required.

“By 2022, 5% of Fortune 500 companies will adopt an automation fabric to drive automation-fueled business transformation,” Joseph said.

The idea behind automation fabric is for vendors to build in capabilities that will allow enterprises to democratize the process of automation within their organizations.

“Any enterprise should democratize the understanding of processes and how to use automation to improve them,” Joseph said. “Otherwise, applying automation technologies will lead to redundant, low-quality, noncompliant, unsustainable automations that can risk your company’s reputation. Therefore, we strongly believe in the rise of citizen process experts who use task and process mining tools as naturally as business developers build and run automations.”

Other capabilities of the automation fabric could include digital assistants that suggest automation modules for specific projects or processes, Joseph said, adding that leading RPA vendors are in the process of pioneering centralized, fine-grained bot governance policies that distributed centers of excellence can inherit.