Robotic process automation (RPA) and robotic desktop automation (RDA) are very effective for streamlining work processes. But organisations find it difficult to implement and maintain. Achieving results – and maintaining them – is not as easy as it seems, according to research commissioned by Pegasystems.

Cleaning up old infrastructure? RPA is often presented as a quick fix, because it automates cumbersome, everyday processes. And companies are investing heavily in it, according to Gartner RPA is the fastest growing segment in the global business software market.

Most respondents in the survey find automating their operational processes with ‘bots’ very important. 67 percent indicate that robot automation is more effective than was initially expected. Only 8 percent think it is less effective.

However, implementing bots sounds easier than it is: it takes organisations more time and effort to get bots to work than they estimate in advance. Half of the respondents indicate that bots are more difficult to implement than they initially thought. On average, almost forty percent of the bots are deployed according to schedule and a successful implementation takes around 18 months.


In addition, the ‘lifespan’ of a bot is not that long: unavoidable changes to the underlying business architecture are likely to lead to more failing bots over time. Already, 87 percent of respondents experience ‘defects’ with bots. All in all, respondents see maintenance as the second largest problem. Organisations think on average that bots last about three years, although their initiatives started less than two years ago.

Due to the fact that defects are practically certain, RPA and RDA cannot be seen as a matter of setting and forgetting. Four in ten respondents state that continuous management of bots requires more time and resources than expected. Bots also make IT more complex, 38% of respondents think, while a quarter of them believes that bots cause more ‘hidden IT’ problems.

Despite all this, one thing is clear: bots live up to their promise when deployed in the right situations. Two thirds of the respondents suspect that bots provide more value and RoI than initially thought, while only 13 percent say they are disappointed in the amount of added value and the RoI.

According to the respondents, the main advantages of robot automation are:

  • Better work performance: 51 percent of respondents see “enabling people to work more efficiently, effectively and accurately” as the biggest benefit of bots.
  • Healthier financial basis: 45 percent indicate that it reduces general operating costs.
  • Happier employees and customers: 42 percent consider improving the employee experience as the most important benefit, closely followed by “improving the customer experience” by 40 percent.

About the research

Pegasystems interviewed 509 decision makers from companies that currently use RPA or RDA from the financial services, insurance, manufacturing, media and telecommunications and healthcare sectors. The respondents are from the US, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia and have a minimum turnover of 100 million dollars.