How Does RPA Impact Traditional Application Development?
Zia Bhutta, Managing Partner and Lead Investor, Accelirate Inc.
I am an Investor and Board Member in a Technology Product company, TapToBook; this tech company has built a cutting-edge multi-channel digital marketing and messaging platform with built in AI based Chat and other features. The target market for the company is various franchised based businesses that use the AI based messaging features to retain existing customers and attract new ones.
Challenges and Issues
One of the common issues the team came across was that every time they would enter a new franchise vertical (fitness, spa, hotels, etc.), they would have to deal with integration issues within their existing system of records. This “integration” problem basically requires frequent data push and pull between the system of records and the company’s technology platform. The process needed for each integration required the system of records to have robust APIs, and in many cases, if the system did not have an Application Programming Interface, the integration challenge was usually resolved by file upload/download and other manual activities. In addition, the development time required to integrate each product was a major “time-to-market” disadvantage.
Another challenge was that as we developed the product, more features were always needed to automate the workflow of the product. Interestingly, as the product evolved, the more software we developed, the more work we needed to do in order to run the campaigns, and the more the job duties of the Marketing Analysts that were running the campaigns kept on increasing.
The scenarios mentioned above are true for many product companies. They are always customizing the products for clients and solving integration problems by writing more code. However, since I had been exposed to Robotic Process Automation for a while and understood how it worked, I wanted to apply RPA to reduce the never-ending coding requirements. We started using RPA a few months ago; rather than developing integration code in many instances, we now use RPA Robots to push/pull data, and rather than Marketing Analysts running campaigns manually, we have Robots run the campaigns. After analyzing our productivity gains, we strongly felt that we had significantly reduced our need to constantly develop the software by applying RPA automation to solve some of the integration and customization challenges. This has allowed the team to focus their software development efforts and dollars on core product features as compared to endlessly trying to solve the integration and customization problems.
RPA is not an ideal solution for every situation, especially where robust API based integrations are a must, however, it can certainly give you a short-term “speed-to-market” advantage while allowing you to focus on solving the bigger problems over a longer period of time. While RPA is not a “pill for every ill”, it is amazing to see the applications of this technology beyond just basic automations.
At Accelirate, we are not only pushing the limits of RPA, but also working on cutting-edge Smart Automation Technologies using both RPA and Machine Learning techniques.