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Are you really an RPA provider?

by Arthur Villa  |  February 25, 2019  |  Submit a Comment

RPA is a very hot topic (top 5 search term on and several RPA providers raised a combined $1b+ in 2018. Unsurprisingly, many other tech providers want to leverage RPA interest to attract prospects and investors. The problem? Few of these tech providers actually provide RPA solutions.


By Gartner’s definition, RPA requires the ability to interact with the user-interface (UI), usually Microsoft Windows. A few positive aspects of RPA are:

  • Business users quickly grasp UI-interactions vs more complex integration technologies
  • Nearly all enterprise applications have a Window UI
  • The software is relatively inexpensive

A few negative aspects of RPA are:

  • User interfaces change so UI-based automation can be brittle and requires ongoing maintenance
  • Scaling RPA can be difficult without strong governance and development practices

Many technology providers offer solutions similar to RPA that improve digital process automation or replace repetitive human work. These solutions may offer greater stability than RPA and provide superior workload automation, but unless they can interact with the UI, they’re not RPA. Marketing your solutions as RPA will confuse prospects looking for inexpensive, UI-based automation. Even worse, you will brand your solutions with the stability and scaling changes associated with RPA.

If your organization wants to capitalize on RPA interest, either identify how your solutions fit within existing RPA ecosystems or market how your solutions are superior to UI-based automation. In the next few months, the brilliant Cathy Tornbohm and I will publish research that provides detail on how to capitalize on RPA ecosystems. Until that research comes out, schedule a call with one of Gartner’s many RPA analysts to strategize on how you can leverage RPA interest to your advantage.

Additional Resources


Arthur Villa
Research Director
10 years at Gartner
18 years IT Industry

Arthur Villa is a Research Director in Gartner's Managed Business and Technology Services team. Primary research coverage is intelligent automation services (IAS) and robotic process automation (RPA) targeted at product managers and product marketers in IT service providers. Read Full Bio

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