Process automation can help corporate budget planners cut costs and create efficiencies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Expect companies that sell these tools to see significant growth in these times.
The coronavirus pandemic forces organizations to shift IT budgets quickly. The organizations that stay strong will do so because they've pivoted under this pressure. Tools that can automate processes will likely come out on top because of their ability to quickly create efficiencies.
According to a survey of IT professionals performed by the Evaluator Group, 50% of companies expect IT budget cuts, with 19% expected to shift spending from capital expenditures to operating expenditures. That means less money for experimental software solutions as organizations worry more about just keeping the lights on.
How companies spend their reduced budget money will change as well. With fewer dollars in the purse, organizations may be less likely to place bets on new products or technologies. "Low risk investments are where the money goes when operating budgets are tight," said Gurmeet Mangat, a digital strategy analyst with DDB Consultants. "When money is spent in uncertain times, people want to know the return of their investment is almost guaranteed."
Process automation industry opportunities
Fortunately for digital transformation-based market segments that specialize in work optimization -- such as the robotics and process automation industries -- the investments people will be willing to risk dollars on will be products that streamline manual and repetitive tasks.
"As more and more employees choose to work from home, organizations are looking for new ways to automate the types of tasks that were commonly performed in the office," said Sal Pece, a senior software analyst at Xennial Consulting. "Businesses don't want to spend money in the climate of COVID, but they will invest in robotic automation software."
This trend toward a digital transformation bodes well for both Pece and Mangat, as the automation and robotics sector in which they work has seen rising interest in 2020. "In my consulting firm alone, we have seen interest in RPA tools like Blue Prism, Automation Everywhere and even SmartSheet triple, if not quadruple over the same time period last year," Mangat said.
What will the long-term effect of COVID-19 be on the IT industry? Only time will tell, but there's no doubt that time saving tools that allow employees to work from home and avoid office visits will become more commonplace the longer COVID looms over our collective future.