SAP’s Vision for Process Automation explained

Gartner has just released its latest research, the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Robotic Process Automation. And SAP is ranked as a Visionary. Read the article from JG Chirapurath about this news, which is an important next step in our Process Automation journey.

Visionaries, according to Gartner, “[…] are market’s innovators. They propel a market forward by responding to emerging customer demands and offering customers new opportunities to excel. Visionaries must also show insightful understanding of market trends and innovative strategies for marketing and sales as well as product and business management. […] Visionaries excel in understanding the demands of enterprises that are looking for fully inclusive automation support, as they often provide related tools like AI, chatbots and process management […]”

From my product strategy point-of-view, I’m excited to tell you the story behind why we believe we were recognized. Knowing where SAP Process Automation comes from and where we plan to take it will allow you to fully understand why it is the best solution for SAP customers who want to improve, extend, and automate their business processes to become more intelligent and sustainable enterprises.

SAP Process Automation combines the capabilities of SAP Workflow Management and SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation in an intuitive, no-code AI-powered experience. Business users can now build workflows, automate tasks and decisions easily, and, if needed, collaborate with development teams to meet all their automation needs. SAP Process Automation offers the following benefits in a nutshell:

  • Faster, simpler way to build workflows and automate process forms. Business users can use the drag-and-drop editor and design how the automation should look and do the same with forms for the user interfaces.
  • Optimized use of business-user process expertise and professional developer skills. Following a low-code or even no-code approach, it is quite easy to start without coding skills.
  • Enhanced ability to rapidly adapt, improve, and innovate business processes. You know what needs to be changed and are empowered to drive these changes on your own, in a governed environment.
  • Simplified process automation using a unified developer experience. Do you want to start creating a workflow, add decisions to include business rules or automate dedicated tasks, or even do all the above? No problem, you now have everything at hand that’s needed and can decide what to include as you go.
  • Improved ROI from SAP and third-party applications. Leverage the full power of your business applications by extending standard processes or automating repetitive, mundane tasks.
  • Make use of predefined content packages, including processes, bot automations, user interfaces, and decisions to accelerate your projects.

Let’s go back to 2019… yes, it was almost 3 years ago already. After having launched SAP Intelligent RPA in June at SAPPHIRE NOW, we received very positive feedback on our Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solution from our valued customers and partners. At the same time, our clients explained that they are faced with rapidly changing market conditions and a shortage of IT resources. We also heard many questions related to RPA and Business Process Management (BPM): When to use what, and which use cases should they choose RPA, vs. BPM? How can Artificial Intelligence help automate further? What if business users, not professional developers, could create automations on their own? This would allow the process experts (the business users) to self-service with IT experts being in a supporting role, freeing them up to focus on the most complex enterprise IT tasks?

Based on customer feedback the conclusion was clear: RPA is only a tool in the toolbox, and an efficient enterprise-grade Process Automation initiative needs more: it needs BPM, it needs AI, it needs easy-to-use tooling and business-focused pre-built content.

At that time, we started explaining that “BPM and RPA are the two sides of the same Process Automation coin”.

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RPA & BPM Use Case Example Lead Creation

We also showed that “Infusing RPA With Machine Learning creates a Powerful Medley”.

This vision, because it was more than a belief, was also demonstrated at SAP TechEd 2019 in Las Vegas, with hands-on sessions and lectures such as “Build Your Own Robotic Process Automation Bot with Machine Learning” and “Increase Process Efficiency with Workflows and Intelligent Bots”.

In 2020, we took the next step toward the vision we outlined.

On the BPM side, in June, we launched SAP Workflow Management – the next chapter of BPM: our aim was to amplify our customer’s digital process automation journeys with an improved and simple experience. We wanted to allow them to focus on flexible adoption and extension of business processes based on their changing business needs. At the same time, we introduced Live Process Content Packages – accelerators for Digital Process Automation. These packages come with pre-built process templates, workflows, user interfaces, decision logic, and visibility scenarios. With these packages, available in a low-code/no-code environment, process owners do not have to start from scratch: they can easily create variants, adapting the business rules or KPIs coming with the visibility scenarios with full flexibility.

On the RPA side, we embedded AI capabilities in order to cover many use cases in various industries, and our customers shared very positive feedback about their successful hyperautomation journeys. At SAP TechEd 2020 we launched SAP Intelligent RPA 2.0, bringing hyperautomation to everyone thanks to a visual low-code/no-code experience and a wide set of pre-built bots available in our online store.

And recently, we launched SAP Process Automation

But this was not the end of our efforts. During another year, we worked towards integrating our Business Process Management and Robotic Process Automation products with native Artificial Intelligence capabilities in a single easy-to-use Low-Code/No-Code cloud-based solution.

End of 2021, at SAP TechEd, we finally unveiled SAP Process Automation. After a preview phase with a few selected customers, who gave very positive feedback on our approach, our solution was made generally available in February 2022.

What’s next? Look at our Road Map!

As for any SAP solution, our road map for SAP Process Automation is public.

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SAP Process Automation Roadmap

Among 50+ items, I would like to emphasize 3 planned key priorities we are working on. Our endeavors will allow more SAP customers to improve their business processes and automate them even further.

  1. Openness
    1. Support for Google Workspace productivity suite: We plan to deliver new components and pre-built content to easily interact with Google Drive and Google workspace productivity applications such as Gmail, Google Sheet and Google Docs.
    2. Enhance support of Microsoft Office 365: Thanks to planned improved components and pre-built content, it will be easier to automate with OneDrive, Outlook, Excel, Word.
    3. Support for multiple operating system automations: Our automation agent is planned to be available for Linux, macOS and Chromebook operating systems in addition to Microsoft Windows.
  2. Deeper integration with SAP
    1. SAP Cloud Application Programming: We plan to leverage SAP CAP as a service, which will allow IT experts in fusion teams to build comprehensive data logic and leverage this as a skill in SAP Process Automation.
    2. SAP One Domain Model: with the planned Metadata access and definition for common master data models, including connectors for MDI. SAP-wide definitions for master and transaction data types are planned to be used as interfaces for application and automation building.
    3. SAP AppGyver: We plan to allow native bidirectional integration of automations, workflows, and application building. We plan to provide a Citizen Developer-ready experience for calling automation processes from SAP AppGyver or the use of rich application interaction as process steps. Our customers will be able to build and publish rich content with application and automation capabilities for business end-user consumption.
  3. Extensive use of Artificial Intelligence
    1. To improve resiliency, self-healing automations based on failure patterns are planned to be possible too: automation design time will support auto-identification of UI or application changes and suggest corrections, automation runtime will support root-cause analysis of failures, with identification of failure patterns and learning system for corrections. We plan to allow self-healing corrections to automations based on best-recommended action, soliciting human-in-loop or auto-adjusting job distribution.

What does that mean for you?

So, to make it short, in less than three years we made SAP’s vision a reality, moving from different complementary products to a very efficient solution covering the entire Process Automation space.

But what if you have already started and joined the journey before? Existing customers of SAP Workflow Management and SAP Intelligent RPA can move to SAP Process Automation at their own speed. We enable a smooth and easy evolution while sustaining existing Workflow Management and RPA investments. Customers already invested in these solutions, will in addition benefit from the citizen developer user experience, make use of pre-built bots or processes and gain the best from both worlds, and to stay in the language of our starting point: there are no two sides of the automation coin anymore – they became one.

This combination of all the capabilities needed for true process automation we believe helped us be positioned as a Visionary in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Robotic Process Automation (RPA). To know more, download your copy of Gartner 2022 Magic Quadrant for Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

In the next 12 months, we will rollout significant improvements, aligned with our clear ambition: Accelerate automation with a modern no-code experience. We want our customers and partners to build with simplicity, automate faster and operate with confidence, and I firmly believe that we are on the right path.

Form your own opinion!

Even with Gartner endorsing our vision, why not form your own opinion by giving SAP Process Automation a try in your own business context? This is very easy, thanks to SAP Business Technology Platform Free Tier access and our free Learning Journey. So, up to you to walk your first steps on your hyperautomation journey today!