Increasingly, my colleague, Alan Pelz-Sharpe, and I are finding substantial convergence and common ground in our coverage areas. (Alan covers blockchain, content, compliance, and AI/ML, and I cover digital process automation, RPA, process mining, and customer experience.) The COVID-19 pandemic is pushing this trend even harder as companies struggle to get their arms around documents, tasks, processes, commerce, and customers so they can deliver products and services more rapidly across ever-morphing supply chains.
Have you ever wondered where all the Lean, Six Sigma, continuous improvement, and operational excellence practitioners have gone? When the BPM (methodology + software) conversation turned toward digital process automation (software and very little process methodology) much of the continuous improvement conversation went away. Poof–it disappeared, to be replaced by a lot of technical talk.
I just got off an informative and compelling webinar by SAP about its robotic process automation (RPA) offering. The bottom line is that SAP sees RPA and BPM (aka digital process automation) as belonging together.[i] Two direct quotes were “RPA by itself does not do the trick” and “RPA and BPM are two sides of the same coin.”
For the past six months, I’ve taken a deep, research-driven look at the state of the market for digital process automation. The result? Take a look at our newly published report, The State of the Digital Process Automation Market: Current Assessment 2019 which offers a broad view of the digital process automation market and vendor …
It seems like every week; a technology vendor tells me how their AI product will free workers from mundane jobs and enable them to do more exciting work. And, every week I respond the same way (though sometimes more diplomatically) ‘that is not true.’ As AI works its way through blue-collar jobs, lower-paid white-collar jobs and now into higher-paid professions, that sales pitch that falls flat. In theory, AI automation could free workers from the mundane and create new and more exciting jobs. But in reality, that will seldom happen, workers are made redundant.
Today content and process technology vendors are simply waiting for customers to ask them for Blockchain, but I don’t think that is going to happen as many of those customers are already playing with, and in some cases implementing, Blockchain all by themselves without reference to their legacy ECM or BPM vendor technology suppliers. We have already seen this happen in Government Departments, Supply Chain firms, Healthcare, and Financial Services.
Most of the process automation vendors are still having that same business applications conversation with prospects and customers. With the exception of Pega, and to a certain extent Appian, they are no further along on delivering packaged solutions than they were three to five years ago. Why this long fascination with out-of-the-box process applications? It’s because an application sale is much quicker, easier, and potentially more lucrative than a platform sale, which takes much longer to close and involves selling to multiple stakeholders. Selling business applications also gives the process automation vendor much greater competitive differentiation in its target markets.