Robotic Process Automation (RPA) trends and predictions for 2021

Written by: Samantha Wolhuter

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According to a September 2020 Gartner, Inc. report, global RPA software revenue is projected to reach $1.89 billion in 2021, with a 19.5% increase from 2020. This revenue spike from the previous year is made even more impressive in the face of the harrowing economic instability caused by COVID-19. What’s more is that the global RPA market share is forecasted to continue to grow by double digits through to 2024.

So what does RPA have in store for us in the post-pandemic future? We’ve compiled a shortlist of RPA trend predictions for 2021 and beyond, as the technology looks to cement its authority in the global business landscape of the future.

COVID-19-related spike in enterprise demand for RPA

The pandemic has shown that RPA can weather a situation that has brought the globe’s economy to its knees, while other industries cannot say the same with much authority. This indicates that RPA is here to stay, and is poised to improve global business efficiency through even the most uncertain of times. 

While the pandemic has reaped economic and logistic havoc on global enterprises, the RPA industry has been booming in popularity as a result. According to the vice president of research at Gartner, Inc., Fabrizio Biscotti:

“The key driver for RPA projects is their ability to improve process quality, speed and productivity, each of which is increasingly important as organisations try to meet the demands of cost reduction during COVID-19.”

Fabrizio Biscotti, Gartner Inc.

The recession has forced companies to look to automation to improve overall operational efficiency while reducing the cost of manpower. The heightened demand for RPA born from pandemic-related necessity also includes safeguarding businesses from future global catastrophic effects like COVID-19, where automation can continue to ensure fast, intelligent, and error-free business solutions no matter the state of external forces and hindrances.

IPA will come to the fore

Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) blends the rules-based automation capabilities of RPA with the sophistication of AI, together with the trial-and-error learning capabilities of Machine Learning and fundamental process redesign. 

This advanced tech will have a revolutionising effect on business efficiency and strategy, and is likely to spawn new business approaches and more diverse ways of working. Although very new, IPA is set to be closing in at a rapid rate thanks to the upswell of RPA adoption on a worldwide scale. The mind boggles at the possibilities of what a highly sophisticated, constantly-learning and ever-evolving smart automation system can offer the world of business.

Rise in global business RPA capacity

Gartner, Inc. forecast a formidable rise in growth capacity for global business’s RPA portfolios, accounting for a large portion of ‘new’ spend in the coming year. As RPA technology improves, so must an organisation’s capacity to improve add-on and advanced features and functionalities to their portfolios to accommodate the changes. This will likely come in the form of new and updated licences and larger core capacities to handle the higher loads of traffic and processing requirements. 

The expectation for businesses to be ‘everywhere’, across all devices and technologies, will be the driving factor for the increase in capacity for their RPA portfolios. RPA will be able to streamline efficiency in these key areas of growth which will result in a higher degree of company-wide RPA adoption. 

Hyperautomation will become prevalent

As a smarter, faster, and more sophisticated ‘big brother’ of RPA, hyperautomation is set to become widely used across large-scale enterprises. Harnessing the power of AI, RPA, and Machine Learning (ML), hyperautomation is designed to process massive volumes of data end-to-end seamlessly to optimise business processes across multiple and diverse areas. As automation will be adopted at much higher volumes in the coming years, the need to automate more complex tasks will become more apparent. 

Hyperautomation allows businesses to automate entire processes previously compartmentalised by traditional RPA (integration, DevOps, monitoring and management) into one process. This further boosts efficiency and productivity at a much larger scale than ever before.

RPA will not only be used in IT

Leading research firms such as Gartner, Inc. and Deloitte assert that RPA’s adoption is set to increase as awareness of the technology rises among business users around the world. RPA is no longer considered a ‘new’ technology as many organisations use it in varying capacities. And as the benefits of the technology are witnessed across multiple businesses processes and departments, its adoption is likely to increase into areas that are not specifically IT-related.

RPA technology is being used at high-level business operations, as the likes of CFOs and COOs are beginning to see the benefits of automation to improve the efficiency and accuracy of various business processes. Gartner, Inc. predicts that almost half of RPA adoption will be actioned by departments outside of the IT-sphere by 2024.


As you can see, the global RPA industry is not simply gaining in popularity across the board, it is now rightfully being viewed as the future for global business. As the world moves toward a collective leveraging of automation’s efficiency, speed, and accuracy, new technologies like hyperautomation and IPA have room to manoeuvre and awe. Businesses not adopting a competitive RPA strategy will soon be left behind in a world where automation is soon to become industry standard.

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Last modified: March 15, 2021
Author info
Samantha Wolhuter
Sam is in charge of writing a big portion of WeAreBrain’s creative content. She is a digital nomad always on the go, inspiring us with her words from some of the world's most beautiful locations.