3 in 5 organizations in APAC and Japan will ramp up enterprise-wide robotic process automation initiatives by 2025

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UiPath, a leading enterprise automation software company, issued a new survey that revealed that 62% of the organizations in the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) will scale up their robotic process automation (RPA) initiatives or achieve an enterprise-wide RPA deployment.

The IDC APJ Automation Survey 2022 also showed that 91% of the organizations do not have enterprise-wide RPA deployment today despite recognizing the importance and benefits.

The survey polled organizations in nine countries across APJ, including Australia, China, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. It examined the level of automation maturity for APJ organizations and how enterprises can scale automation to achieve business growth and outcomes. Fundamentally, 86% of the organizations in APJ agree that automation will be a critical requirement for business excellence, customer experience, and competitive success within the next 3 years.

“APJ business leaders are increasingly acknowledging the pivotal role of automation in resolving their pain points and accelerating growth across the region, against the backdrop of an intensifying competitive climate and turbulent macroeconomic environment,” said Michael Araneta, Associate Vice President, IDC Financial Insights.

The new survey also found that automation has become a vital accelerator as enterprises look to achieve exponential growth.

“However, despite securing these unprecedented benefits, most organizations have been slow in taking the leap into implementing an enterprise-wide automation program due to myriad yet addressable challenges, including finding automation skills and talent, identifying the right automation software, and ensuring robust security and governance,” he added.

Acceleration of investments in automation in the next 3 years across APJ

Between 2020 and 2021, automation spending has continued to accelerate as 67% of the APJ organizations have increased spending. The top three business priorities for implementing automation include improving operational efficiencies (63%), streamlining processes (56%) as well as digitizing processes and workflows (48%). Going forward, automation will play a larger role for APJ enterprises by driving new revenue streams, deepening existing customer relationships, and achieving operational efficiencies.

At a regional level, automation is becoming a discussion at the C-suite level, with about one in three (32%) APJ respondents acknowledging that their CIOs and CTOs are leading the automation drive towards enterprise-wide adoption.

“Additionally, with growing significance of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and sustainability, there is a massive upsurge expected in APJ organizations to garner automation investments for related use cases. Over 30% of the APJ organizations will automate ESG and sustainability use cases next, an increase from 13% in 2022,” shared Araneta.

Paradigm shift to Intelligent Process Automation

Today, over 90% of organizations in Australia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and China underscore their shifting focus toward Intelligent Process Automation (IPA). Given that the IPA market in APJ is estimated to grow to USD5.5 billion in 2025, this highlights the necessity and potential to go beyond RPA to achieve comprehensive end-to-end process automation at scale. In the next 3 years, 59% of the APJ organizations will use IPA in over 20% of the total deployments.

Lack of skilled talent hampers enterprise-wide scaling of automation

However, the talent crunch has become a significant business challenge. Many APJ organizations point to the shortage of automation skills and talent (59%) as the top challenge they face in scaling automation. As a result, 53% said the availability of skilled automation talent and strong implementation partners’ support is essential when selecting automation solutions. In comparison, 50% said they look for end-to-end enterprise-grade solutions with modern and modular architecture.

Citizen-led development and training become hygiene needs in the future of work

Across APJ, 44% of the organizations already have non-IT domain employees involved in automating aspects of their work, while 39% plan to get their employees involved. In particular, the banking and insurance industry is leading the pack, with 56% of non-IT domain employees already involved in automation, followed by the telecommunications (50%) and retail (49%) sectors.

As more organizations integrate automation in the work of non-IT domain employees, respondents highlighted that collaboration with IT (33%), clear guidance on best practices (21%), and easy-to-use tools (19%) are critical requirements for successful implementations. Additionally, organizations will need to develop a comprehensive training and development plan focusing on reskilling and upskilling across teams and units, which only 38% of the APJ organizations are currently doing.

“To level up their automation initiatives, organizations must elevate their automation mindset by leveraging a holistic strategy with executive buy-in, coupled with a robust employee upskilling and training program to automate at scale in the APJ region,” said Scott Hunter, Vice President, Customer Strategy and Solutions Lead, Asia Pacific and Japan, UiPath.