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2020: The humans are definitely not going to be left out!
There are two main areas where I see change coming in 2020: in automation and in the domain of low-code tools for application development. Automation is a big topic, and I think everyone sees that change is coming and coming rapidly, so my take is specifically on robotic process automation and the role it is increasingly playing in digital process automation. Counterintuitively perhaps, I think that in 2020, we'll see more focus on the humans in automation. The role of humans in interacting with automation will be better understood and supported.
In the past years we've seen a lot of emphasis on arming citizen developers with low-code tools that allow them to build business applications. What I see is that more people are beginning to understand that low code is not a thing but a paradigm, and we'll see more and more attention paid to specific elements of low code intended for different kinds of users and for collaboration among them.
Digital Process Automation and Robotic Process Automation
Humans are integral to automation in several ways.
We think about RPA as robots helping humans, the key actors in an automation project. The better the help, the more efficient the human and therefore the task. RPA vendors are recognizing this and are talking about "the human in the loop."
Application of AI tools (such as machine learning, process mining, predictive analytics, and so on) help humans to find "invisible" inefficiencies, showing the way to make existing tasks, task sequences or processes better.
But AI and robots don't fix inefficiencies - people do. More intelligent robots simply don't make more intelligent processes.
Humans need to step back and look at the whole system to see where robots and AI can be deployed and how they can better collaborate with humans to help make whole processes work better, faster.
Humans innovate. People will deploy RPA and AI - together with DPA to create new products and new services that use automation - so it's people who drive innovation with automation, and not automation itself that brings innovation.
And further - we can't forget that humans are often the end users of automation projects. How they will collaborate with robots, information systems, and other humans matters - to them. DPA technologies make this collaboration possible by enabling humans to be creative and innovate, and at the same time improves the collaboration among humans, robots and systems.
Low code is a paradigm, not a market
We are beginning to see a shift in how low code is being adopted, and how it is beginning to be aimed not at empowering specific groups like citizen developers OR professional developers, but more targeted to helping mixed teams, with very different persona profiles, collaborate in a democratic and free way, without constraints.
Low-code will continue to mature and specialize. "Low-code" is not a market, but a paradigm that can be applied to different technologies to create software, and that can be applicable to mobile apps development, simple apps development, enterprise apps development...and also to process automation platforms (RPA, DPA). Maybe in 2020 we'll see a wider understanding of that distinction as well as continuing evolution specifically in the process automation space!
In 2020, people will surely agree and disagree on how to make low-code tools available in more ways, but we'll surely see movement in the direction of empowering collaborative teams with methodologies and capabilities to help them work together. Augmented collaboration between developers and empowered business users will ultimately produce better software.