Robotic process automation (RPA) is already in full swing in many organizations: More than half (53 percent) of respondents in Deloitte’s 2018 Global RPA Survey, for instance, said their “RPA journey” was already underway. The survey projected that figure to hit 72 percent in two years time, or 2020.
That almost sounds bland, though, when you consider this additional comment in the survey report about current growth in RPA adoption: “If this continues at its current level, RPA will have achieved near-universal adoption within the next five years,” Deloitte says.
[ Making the case for RPA in your organization? Learn how to explain RPA in plain English. ]
If that holds true, that means you’ll be hard-pressed to find a company that hasn’t implemented RPA in some form at some point in 2023. Automating computer-based tasks will be as common as computers themselves.
RPA skills: Opportunity knocks
It follows, then, that these companies will need people with the skills necessary to implement and iterate their RPA strategies. That’s the sound of opportunity knocking, because apparently those skills aren’t yet plentiful.
“78 percent of those who have already implemented RPA expect to significantly increase investment in RPA over the next three years,” Deloitte says. “Yet scaling RPA is clearly proving more difficult than anticipated: only 3 percent of organizations have scaled their digital workforce.”
When IT career opportunities come knocking, they’re usually hoping for bona-fide IT pros to answer the door. That’s still true here, but another interesting aspect of RPA is that it’s not just an IT story. The potential for RPA use cases runs far and wide in many business environments, and will not necessarily be the sole purview of IT. People in finance or customer service might be just as likely as IT pros to become RPA stars.
So if you want to answer that door – or simply build your own ability as an IT leader to communicate and strategize effectively about RPA – where do you turn? As with other technologies, there’s a growing segment of online education and certification opportunities that could offer stepping stones onto the RPA path. We collected eight examples to illustrate the possibilities. Note that we’re not endorsing these, or ranking them, but highlighting the range of emerging options for learning and professional development on the RPA front.
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RPA training and courses:
This Udemy course, recently on sale for just $11.99, includes a five-step process for doing a RPA pilot in your organization, as well as the chance to build an actual bot using the UiPath platform. Like many of the online learning opportunities for RPA, it doesn’t require much in the way of previous technical expertise.
2. RPA, AI, and Cognitive Tech for Leaders (LinkedIn)
This brief (less than one hour) video course is a beginner-level introduction for executives on the role of RPA, AI, and cognitive capabilities in the digital era. Topics include: “drafting a strong, top-down mandate, investing reasonably in digital transformation, and managing expectations for AI projects.”
UiPath is one of multiple RPA software vendors on the market. Pretty much all of them offer some kind of training or certification path, whether directly or through a third-party education site. (UiPath happens to do both.) UiPath is on the one hand just a representative example of vendor-sponsored opportunities, but its UiPath Academy is also noteworthy because it’s a) free, and b) offer role-based training. That means if you’re a business analyst or project manager, for example, there’s a tutorial for you. There are also RPA developer-focused tracks and other courses aimed at IT pros, such as an infrastructure path.
4. RPA Business Analyst Training (MindMajix)
Speaking of role-based training, this certification path is for business analysts looking to add RPA credentials to their resume. The platform offers free demos of the coursework (actual pricing varies) and a variety of start dates.
Created by the RPA software developer WorkFusion, Automation Academy offers both “Community Courses” – covering the basics, including for professionals outside of IT – and “Partner Courses” targeted more toward people with a degree of technical sophistication.
This option is somewhat similar to various coding schools and bootcamps. It offers training in several of the currently popular RPA software tools. It can also get pricey depending on what you’re looking for; while it offers individual options, it also offers group training, so may be worth evaluating if your organization is paying the tab for professional development, especially for a team.
7. Robotic Process Automation and Beyond (AICPA)
This is one of the more fascinating training and certification opportunities simply from the standpoint of the wide potential for RPA use cases: It’s offered by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). In other words, this is for the CFO, not the CIO.
That should give you an indicator of RPA’s expanding role in the enterprise. The trade association says the certificate course is useful for anyone in a finance or accounting role: “This course will help guide your journey through the business case and what to consider when choosing and implementing an automation tool. It will also give you an understanding of how a digital workforce will impact accounting, auditing and governance.”
RPA might fundamentally be about software, but it isn’t just an IT story. The folks who handle the money are paying attention, too.
If you can forgive the self-promotion, our ongoing series of articles on RPA topics will give you a quick (and free) bootcamp on everything from explaining the technology in plain terms to identifying compelling use cases – plus useful metrics for evaluating your long-term success. Start with these six posts:
- How to explain Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in plain English
- How to identify Robotic Process Automation (RPA) opportunities
- Robotic process automation (RPA) metrics: How to measure success
- Why Robotic Process Automation (RPA) projects fail: 4 factors
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA): 6 things people get wrong
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA): How to persuade skeptics
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