How Does RPA Affect IT and DevOps?
By empowering business users, Robotic Process Automation augments development and IT resources
Midmarket companies’ development and IT departments are typically busy places, where limited resources are stretched across a seemingly unlimited number of requests. Corporate decision makers get tired of hearing ‘what do you want me to put on hold’ when identifying a new development priority. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can add a tool to the IT and business toolkit to change that dynamic by allowing robust automation that requires less development and IT resources.
So, is RPA introducing more 'shadow IT', or does RPA empower the DevOps team by offering robust, governable technology promising faster and less expensive value creation? While RPA can deliver huge cost savings and eliminate tedious tasks for IT/DevOps workers, it can also appear like a difficult technology to control.
RPA - Disruptive technology at work
Before we look specifically at the impact of RPA on DevOps teams, it may be helpful to provide a quick overview of how RPA systems work, and why this latest disruptive technology is attracting so much attention by midmarket companies.
Robotic Process Automation mimics human behavior with no change to the existing, underlying technology infrastructure. RPA is technology agnostic, code free and can work across legacy ERPs, mainframes, custom applications and any other types of IT platforms. If it can be used by a human, it can be used by an RPA robot.
Because RPA interacts with application software through the existing application’s interface, no coding or integration is required. This means, from an IT/DevOps point of view, there little to change and often little to do. And, because there is no coding or integration, you can launch an RPA solution in a matter of days or weeks – as opposed to months or even years. These two factors, the lack of coding and the speed of deployment, help Robotic Process automation deliver a rapid ROI and ongoing cost savings – which is why it’s generating such a buzz.
A direct challenge – or unique opportunity for DevOps teams?
Should IT/DevOps personnel push back at RPA? Robotic Process Automation does have the potential to replace many traditional development opportunities in the 'API Economy'. Once trained, RPA software follows specific workflows, automatically processes transactions, manipulates data, triggers responses, and communicates with other systems. The technology reduces or eliminates the need for humans to perform high-volume IT support, workflow design, software testing, remote infrastructure and back-office processes, which hare tasks found throughout midmarket enterprises. So yes, in this way, RPA does have the potential to disrupt the IT landscape. But it’s far more likely that RPA will generate additional opportunities for technology workers.
Just as it promises to free business users from performing high-volume, low-value tasks, RPA can free IT personnel to take on more important, interesting and challenging jobs. There is a worldwide shortage of experienced IT people, and the proliferation of software development boot camps attests to this. RPA can provide the spark that moves people up the value chain, providing opportunities for higher value and higher reward employment. In addition, the development and maintenance of RPA technology will itself provide new job opportunities.
The Institute for Robotic Process Automation agrees, as it noted in its RPA primer: “Though it is expected that automation software will replace up to 140 million full-time employees worldwide by the year 2025, many high-quality jobs will be created for those who are able to maintain and improve RPA software.”
Another way RPA can actually boost employment opportunities is through reshoring – bringing previously outsourced jobs back under the corporate roof. Within the IT department, employees can help identify new tasks ripe for automation, and develop new, complementary applications and interfaces. By reducing, or even eliminating outsourcing, Robotic Process Automation has the potential to promote new job creation, and put companies firmly in control of their activities and resources.
Face concerns head on
As RPA continues to gain acceptance among midmarket companies, concerns about the possibility of job losses or the need for new skills are inevitable. Smart companies will want to acknowledge and address these concerns in order to gain broad acceptance and make the transition to an ever-more automated IT infrastructure.
In virtually every sector of our economy, technology disrupts established ways of getting jobs done. Forward thinking IT and DevOps personnel are smart, resourceful and highly sought after. Perhaps more quickly and more enthusiastically than any other type of worker, these folks will learn how to leverage new technologies and find new ways to create additional value for midmarket enterprise.
BTerrell works with midmarket enterprises to implement RPA solutions that fit your business operations, allowing you to do more with fewer resources and resulting in a rapid return on investment. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn to start the conversation.
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