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Robotic Process Automation (RPA): The Microsoft channel adapts to market growth

by Alan R. Earls
Contributing Writer, a

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is technology in which the word robotic is somewhat misplaced. There are no automatons with lights and mechanical fingers; just smart software that can learn how to take over the innumerable tasks that humans conduct at the keyboard. If it is repetitive and can be defined by a set of rules - even if it involves multiple applications -- odds are good that RPA can automate it.

And vendors in the Microsoft channel, including Dynamics ERP solutions, are already acting on the RPA opportunity with investments in R&D, acquisitions, and partnerships.

According to a report by GrandView Research (Robotic Process Automation Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report by Services (Professional Services, Training Services), By Organization, By Application, By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2018 - 2024) the RPA market was valued at less than $200 million in 2016, but it has been growing at a CAGR of 60.5 percent. Similarly, IDC is charting a 35.5 percent increase in RPA spending for claims processing automation within the insurance industry, from 2016 to 2021.

To date, many of the biggest customer investments and most dramatic projects have involved large organizations - major insurers, government agencies, etc.  But that is starting to change as RPA offerings grow more diverse and sophisticated and as smaller scale use cases begin to demonstrate their economic value.

RPA is an "interesting market," with about 15 companies dominating the space, said Dan Twing, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates.  He said a few of those companies are very vertically focused by industry, specializing in areas such as healthcare and automotive claims processing. Some are horizontally focused, for example helping to automate support desks and chat box functions ...

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About Alan R. Earls
Alan R. Earls is a technology writer based near Boston. He has covered all facets of IT, including ERP and CRM for many years and wrote regularly on Dynamics for Microsoft's 'Momentum' midsize business website. He is the author of several books on tech and business history, including Digital Equipment Corporation and Route 128 and the Birth of the Age of High Tech.
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