Deloitte RPA report admits surprise at lack of vision and IT readiness

Deloitte’s fourth Global Robotics Survey is out this week with stats that demonstrate a significant uptake in support for the use of Robotic Process Automation in the workplace and a maturing of expectations from the technology but the report also expresses surprise at the lack of vision and ambition for automation and a ‘lack of IT readiness’.

The past year has seen a significant uptick in support for RPA at a senior level, with 81% of business leaders in the organisations surveyed now supporting its use, up from 72% in 2017. Additionally, 68% of managers and team leaders are supportive of automation, compared to half who said the same in 2017.

While Deloitte expresses surprise at how many organisations have yet to define a vision for RPA it says that 67% of organisations have begun implementing a RPA strategy, up from 49% in 2017.

Deloitte’s research shows that just 5% of businesses implementing RPA are seeking to reduce costs, compared to 21% of businesses who said the same in 2017.

Ninety-five percent of organisations that have implemented RPA say the technology has improved productivity, according to Deloitte’s survey.

In addition, 93% of those that have implemented or scaled RPA say it has improved compliance, 81% agree it has reduced cost and 77% say it has provided better management information.

Despite the uptick in support, organisations are struggling to scale RPA as anticipated. Just 4% of organisations are now operating more than 50 ‘robots’, a negligible increase from 3% in 2017. Twenty-seven percent are either piloting RPA with under 10 robots or have moved into full implementation with between 10 and 50 robots.

Respondents cited process fragmentation, the wide variation of offline and online tasks involved in processes set-out to be automated by robotics, as the main barrier to achieving scale (32%), followed by lack of a clear RPA vision (17%) and lack of IT readiness (17%).

The report says: “We are frequently surprised at how many organisations have yet to define a vision and ambition for automation. Without this, it is not clear how automation teams will secure the funding to build the skills, capability and capacity required to automate at scale. At its simplest, being able to articulate how many bots will be implemented over the next year, and where and why these will be deployed, is surely essential to securing investment from senior management.”

It adds: “In our experience many IT teams are only just beginning to fully appreciate how different the deployment of automation technologies is to traditional IT systems, how profound the changes they will introduce are, and the potential impact on the role of IT teams. We have seen medium complexity robot implementation schedules ranging from 4 weeks up to 24 weeks. Needless to say, at the upper end of that range automation becomes non-viable economically. As IT teams learn and adapt to the changes required to implement automation technologies successfully, the pace of robot deployment accelerates rapidly.”

The research, based on responses from 530 business leaders across organisations with combined revenues of $3.5 trillion, analyses market trends and emerging practices in Robotic and Cognitive Automation.

Justin Watson, robotics and cognitive automation lead at Deloitte, commented: “Robots are increasingly becoming a fixture in the workplace, and the value which they bring is now being felt by the vast majority. The challenge now will be for robotics to be scaled effectively in order to truly show their worth in boosting productivity as well as reducing risk, increasing revenue and improving the experience of both customers and employees.”

You can download the report here: