First-wave adopters of robotic process automation (RPA) in the Asia-Pacific region have seen early success but struggle with scale, as the pandemic has hampered their growth plans, a new report said on Monday.
The Asia Pacific region and markets in its constituent countries have been growth engines for RPA in recent years, accounting for roughly 17 per cent of the global market for RPA services.
For the report, global market research firm Forrester surveyed 45 companies in Australia, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Singapore to understand the challenges of RPA adoption.
“In the aftermath of the pandemic, many first-time firms in Asia Pacific dipped their toes into automation. However, Covid-19 has not resulted in significant expansion of tenured programmes beyond existing plans,” the report noted.
According to the findings, the first-wave enterprises need to overcome three challenges to scale: identifying and deploying automation on the right processes, establishing effective governance for the automation program, and managing the cultural and people aspects of automation.
“Second-wave adopters set new expectations from the market. Such firms represent the newer wave of participants in the automation market; they started their RPA journey within the past 12 to 18 months,” said Leslie Joseph. Principal Analyst, Forrester Research.
These firms often struggle to establish the value and cadence of business automation.
“However, their programmes emerged in the context of a changing market landscape; today, both vendors and practitioners have a better understanding of the best practices for and pitfalls of automation,” she informed.
Accordingly, these new entrants look for lower risk in implementation, better solutioning support, and accelerated deployment through solutions with AI components or prebuilt integrations from their vendor partners.
Particularly in India and the Philippines, the offshore captive entities of large global corporations have created significant scale in automation.
“While these entities were often established before the current RPA explosion, many were able to adopt automation as a fresh charter and become ‘robotic hubs’ or automation competency centres for their parent entity and its global business units,” Joseph said.
Despite major RPA tool vendors’ heavy investment in skills, talent remains in short supply in Asia Pacific.
It’s particularly acute for technical-functional roles like business analysts and RPA operations staff, the report noted.