Uday Birajdar, CEO and co-founder at AutomationEdge, the leading AI-powered IT automation and robotic process automation company.
Nowhere is the mission of a mid-market company sharper than at the starting line, when founders have the clearest vision of their charter. Typically with fewer than 1,000 employees, these companies often need to outsource activities that distract from the core offering. The way I see it, the recent exodus to the cloud is definitive proof that companies have wholeheartedly taken to this philosophy. The cloud has become the default option for many enterprise applications, including robotic process automation (RPA), because it has delivered on the promises of scale, security and internet availability.
Mid-market companies also place big bets on their employees. Innovation is the culture; experimentation is encouraged. Being a relatively small, tight group, these companies are the masters of their domain, well-versed in their processes. Automation should have come easy to them if only the RPA market had not gotten so confusing. Between the myriad pricing models from different RPA vendors and the bundled offerings with features, most of which would be required much later in the enterprise’s growth cycle, it has become a not-so-trivial purchase for the enterprise.
RPA-as-a-service (RPAaaS), however, is an easy way of giving the developers automation superpowers without the incumbent fixed costs of infrastructure and licenses. With RPAaaS on the cloud, a company can do away with investing in expensive infrastructure, upfront license costs and hefty consulting costs that go into massive implementations.
Current RPAaaS offerings, including the solution we offer at AutomationEdge, are low on code and high on “drag and drop” functionality, making the intuitive user interfaces open to automation across the enterprise. With an RPAaaS solution that has plug-ins that connect to the common systems of record in the enterprise, RPA is no longer an island, but rather a means of intergalactic travel across the enterprise galaxy.
RPAaaS Advantages Over On-Premise RPA
With less than a thousand employees, I find that most mid-market companies are short on the resources required to support a full-blown RPA system through implementation, which becomes a little like landing a plane on a helipad. Once installed, such systems need to be maintained and kept up to date. This is where RPAaaS comes in handy. Users have to worry less about the version and more about the automation of the function they are designing. Users get to work in an “always updated” environment, rather than worrying about the latest version, patches and updates.
Full-blown, on-premise RPA implementations come with mature governance models, which are unnecessary at the start of a company’s life. A check-the-box approach to governance that meets all mandatory legal, financial and accounting requirements is adequate for this stage of growth. Not all processes need to be run every day; many are run once a quarter or even annually. Employees can monitor these processes much easier.
Another advantage of RPAaaS is having access to a robust RPAaaS community that can help developers keep in touch with the latest hacks, patches and previews that they can then bring into their craft. I’ve found that RPAaaS platform-supported communities have become the backbone, complementing the DIY mentality of its users. Further, the right RPAaaS partner can provide the unconditional support that a burgeoning company needs before taking off.
Understanding RPA’s Evolution And Its Pricing
Most of the leaders in the RPA space first led the market with an on-premise product. The first RPA offerings came with periodic releases that halted all businesses with huge implementation protocols. Expensive consultants had to come in to customize the “last mile” to those implementations — no different from the on-premise software implementations of years past. These implementations needed expensive hardware. Customers were locked into the upgrade releases on the vendor’s calendar.
The next-generation RPA companies came up with cloud-native offerings that eliminated the issues with earlier RPA offerings. Cloud-native offerings provide behind-the-scenes development with upgrades that happen unbeknownst to the user. Being inherently self-service, they provide an automated management experience across private, public and hybrid clouds.
With these new offerings, I find that current buyers are often confused by the pricing doublespeak. Pricing bundles abound. Some products are charged per user, others are charged per month. The higher the number of licenses, the steeper the discounts. The longer the contracted time, the higher the price breaks. I believe users should pay for only what they consume, so I recommend looking for transparent offerings that track how much has been consumed.
One Size Does Not Fit All
The RPA market has matured with offerings ranging from the agile RPAaaS to the mammoth conventional, license-based models of yesterday. While the conventional model may be right for some enterprises, the leaner RPAaaS option can offer small to medium-sized enterprises the camaraderie of community and hand-holding. With the right approach, RPAaaS can become the solution of choice.