The robotic process automation (RPA) market is expected to reach $22 billion by 2025, according to a new Forrester report.
The research based on surveys of the world’s top RPA vendors and service providers reveals that RPA software is expected to grow to $6 billion while services reaches $16 billion in the next three years.
The top RPA providers including UiPath, BluePrism (sold to SS&C Technologies), and Automation Anywhere have attracted a lot of investment in recent years and the combined market capitalization based on the peak valuations for the three leaders exceeded $US40B when the market was running hot. However, this has retreated in recent times. Blue Prism sold for half of its peak while UIpath has lost about two-thirds of its value from its peak.
When it comes to the software, Forrester expects growth to continue in 2022 and eventually flatten in 2023, as practitioners move towards AI-driven automation suites.
According to the authors, “Embedding RPA into enterprise software suites or making RPA part of a broader intelligent automation play is a long-term trend as enterprises build a heterogeneous automation fabric. Forrester predicts that in 2022, 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies will adopt an automation fabric to drive automation-fueled business transformation.”
Services spending spans across implementation services and consulting, with Forrester predicting a decline in consulting support while as-a-service models rise.
Vendors are also shifting their focus towards automation-based solutions, rather than standard RPA, the report reveals.
“Many larger services vendors have not only significantly scaled their RPA services offerings; they’ve also been busy embedding digital workforces into client-facing platform offerings. Examples include Accenture’s SynOps, Cognizant’s Neuro platform, and NTT DATA’s Nucleus,” said the authors.
“However, clients should carefully evaluate these platforms against the expected return on investment and potential vendor lock-in risk.”
The greatest adopters of RPA fall in the financial services, healthcare and public sectors, with North America spending the most on RBA services, followed by Asia Pacific.
As the RPA market slows down, automation fabric is expected to take the lead.
“RPA practitioners with the ambition to increase their companies’ degree of automation can expect a significant evolution of automation capabilities,” the authors state.
These include the evolution of “fabric” tools, bot governance democratising automation, citizen process improvements, and digital assistants working with humans.
“Reinforcement learning will push the complexity threshold of automation use cases while humans remain in the driver’s seat. We see small and midsize product vendors in particular offering basic digital assistants to round out a strong vision.”