I am pleased to announce some upcoming changes to Forrester’s evaluative research around the automation service provider ecosystem.

Since the early days of the pandemic, we have seen process automation take an accelerated role in digital transformation. Enterprises looking to elevate their adaptiveness, creativity, and resilience through automation have steadily moved away from tactical and siloed automation technology implementations. Instead, they are combining multiple automation technologies flexibly to weave automation throughout their business and technology operations. This trend is supported by a grand convergence between products that span areas such as process automation (including robotic process automation, digital process automation, low-code, process intelligence, and content intelligence), data-driven automation (including integration-platform-as-a-service, data events from the internet of things, and state changes in machine-learning applications), and technology automation (spanning from IT automation to physical robotics integrated with digital workflows).

Forrester has described this convergence through our research into the rise of automation fabrics, covered here, here, and here.

Service providers play a crucial role in this evolution. With time, we see the services market stratifying into segments, with vendors in each segment fulfilling a distinct set of client needs. Some vendors focus on providing broader support for enterprise transformation. Others choose to specialize in delivering know-how and expertise around areas such as robotic process automation (RPA), digital process automation, low-code, or intelligent automation (IA).

To reflect these shifts in the automation services market, we are making the following changes to our evaluative research:

  1. Specialist RPA services firms have emerged to focus on deep RPA implementations. These firms derive a majority of their revenue from RPA services and have differentiated themselves with distinct methodologies, platforms, managed services offerings, and intellectual property that supports sustained value delivery within RPA-centric, IA, or “hyperautomation” engagements. To focus on this segment, the erstwhile Forrester Wave™ evaluation covering robotic process automation services will be updated to exclusively focus on these specialist RPA services firms. Our research into this segment will see a refresh this year, with a Landscape report to be published in Q2 2023 and a Wave to follow in Q4 2023.
  2. Global systems integrator firms, consultancies, and other generalist service providers have been integrating siloed automation technology competencies into broader “automation fabric”-style offerings that cut across technologies to deliver automation outcomes. Services offered span areas including (but not limited to) strategy, process transformation, operations, data strategy, automation risk management, and talent transformation. To focus on this segment, we are creating a new research stream that will be titled “automation fabric services.” We plan to release a Landscape report on this segment in early Q1 2024, followed by a Wave later in 2024. Going forward, the erstwhile series of Forrester Wave evaluations covering digital process automation service providers will be deprecated in favor of this new Wave.

We believe that these changes to our research will help technology leaders and automation strategists gain a better understanding of the service provider ecosystem and make better sourcing decisions.

If you are an automation services vendor who would like to participate in our ongoing research, you could submit a briefing request to start a conversation.