Each year, we gauge the state of the digital process automation (DPA) market in our comprehensive survey. In Forrester’s Q2 2023 Digital Process Automation Survey, three primary trends came into focus: 1) Organizations hit the pause button on digital transformation (DT) in the wake of economic uncertainty and tightening budgets; 2) process intelligence has gained momentum as the need for process insights and data-driven approaches escalates; and 3) process optimization has become everyone’s job, but training and skill sets lag.

Enthusiasm For Digital Transformation Dropped This Year

The ongoing economic uncertainty and tightened budgets caused many organizations to hit the pause button on digital transformation. Forty-five percent of respondents cited delays or reductions in automation investments due to constrained budgets. Most organizations remain committed to process improvement, with over half (56%) of them considering it a strategic investment and 71% still reporting end-to-end automation as a primary driver. The frenzy for DT cooled slightly, as cost reduction once again became a top priority (36%) and just 16% identified DT as the primary focus of process optimization, down from 43% last year. The pause is only temporary, however, as respondents cited that long-term goals for increasing automation had not changed.

Organizations Embrace Enterprise Applications

Results reveal a shift in the tools and methodologies used for process enhancement. Microsoft, Salesforce, and ServiceNow were identified by 64% of respondents as their primary DPA or workflow vendor. Pure-play DPA vendors are feeling the squeeze not only from enterprise app vendors but also from low-code and robotic process automation platforms that are building in DPA support. At the same time, the need for DPA continues to expand, providing opportunity for all.

Data-Driven Technologies, Such As Process Intelligence Tools And Enterprise Applications, Gain Traction

The survey results highlight a growing interest in process- and task-mining tools. The steady rise of process intelligence tool usage (57% of survey respondents are currently using them) is gaining ground over traditional analytic approaches such as customer journey mapping.

Process Optimization Efforts Lack The Necessary Personnel Training

Seventy-five percent of organizations expect businesspeople to engage in process optimization, yet 57% admit that they lack a clear strategy. Only 8% of organizations require employees to undergo training in process automation techniques and tools. This highlights a training gap.

What’s Next?

Data-driven tools for process intelligence are emerging, yet challenges persist in their proper use. Organizations can level up their automation teams by hiring and training citizen process experts for process optimization efforts, to focus on efficiency metrics, and to embrace more complex optimization efforts. As DPA providers rush to include generative AI features, we will see a rise in citizen development, but without proper training on how to enhance or transform a process, these innovations will be wasted.