$3B valuations on <$100M in revenue, marketing videos of people building RPA solutions while riding in race cars, suspended from cranes or while doing flips in an airplane… enough is enough. All this hype is grabbing headlines but what should grab your attention is the results of four recent VOC RPA surveys… all in agreement on one frequently overlooked red flag, RPA is not scaling.

Yes, RPA has a problem… the results are in. RPA is not scaling, and we are officially in the trough. Although, if you trolled the latest news around new funding, company announcements in this space, new customer growth, industry growth, you would think the exact opposite. However, over the last few months (as of late 2018) several RPA field surveys have been analyzed and summarized by HfSPEXDeloitte and McKinsey related to this scale challenge to support this premise. Articles supported by field feedback which should serve as a “canary in the coalmine” moment for the industry forcing all of us to step back from this RPA hype freight train to reflect and learn from the good, bad and the ugly of these early adopter years so we can get this train back on the right track.

Should we be surprised by the state we are in? Seems like most new silver bullet technology introductions typically go through a similar hype phase where expectations are grossly misaligned with actual technology implementation reality, but do they have to? Why on earth can’t we all figure this out as a vendor and customer community up front? Ironic how we just accept this Gartner Hype Cycle model and yet do very little as a B2B community to try and avoid it. Imagine what we could do in a software world without hype… millions of wasted hours saved, happier customers, more trust with vendor products, the list goes on and on. Perhaps too much of a philosophical and euphoric thought for today’s discussion but we can all dream.

Having spent the last 15+ years embedded in this process automation and RPA space performing over 100 assessments and supported over 50 implementations, I feel it is time (before I actually implode) to finally break my silence around a few key RPA myths, perspectives, vendor claims, etc., that continue to hold this technology back from scaling and becoming truly “enterprise” technology. An impossible task to cover in detail over one blog / article so I will start the discussion here and then take you through a more detailed commentary one hype filled RPA myth at a time over a series of blogs yet to come.

My goal? To start a more honest, open, hype-less and critical thinking conversation around this RPA technology to help get us out of this trough of disillusionment and begin to use this technology as it was intended… in a way that complements an ever-evolving digital automation strategy vs serving as a silver bullet tactical strategy disconnected with reality.

Scott Merritt is a passionate advocate of “Responsible RPA” having spent the last 15 years embedded in the process optimization and RPA space performing over 100 process automation assessments and supporting over 50 RPA implementations. As Global Head of Automation for Jacada, Scott leads the go-to-market strategy for their automation portfolio and works as a trusted advisor for customers and prospects actively pursuing a digital transformation strategy. Scott has 20+ years’ experience in enterprise technology, serving in consulting, sales and sales leadership roles and carries with him a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt which he acquired earlier in his career during his tenure at Cardinal Health.