A recent IBM survey revealed that more than half of executives plan to increase AI investments in the next three years, with 44% planning to increase robotics investments alone. And in total, 73% expect significant revenue growth from implementing these automation technologies. While the value of automation is indisputable, it’s crucial to understand – and factor in – downstream costs associated with automation projects to maximize the true value of your investment.

Most automation projects start with a solid understanding of upfront and implementation costs; and most executives are willing to shell these costs out. After all, who doesn’t see the value in eliminating repetitive, mundane activities? But just like you wouldn’t buy a car and expect to never put gas in it, you cannot neglect the maintenance costs that come with every automation project. Without an accurate estimation of these long-term costs, you won’t have a comprehensive assessment of your ROI.

There are three key areas in which downstream costs can sneak up on you:
 

  • Process Dynamics: How often are changes made to the processes you’re automating? Before rolling out a new RPA function, it’s crucial to understand the process dynamics behind the tasks you’re automating. For instance, if you’re looking to automate workflows specific to different sales territories, but those territories change every six months, the bots behind those processes will have to be continuously re-trained to fit your needs. 
  • Ecosystem Dynamics: How often will the automation environment change? If you’re using an on-premise data center, and have plans to move to a cloud-based data center (or if you’re moving from one cloud provider to another), your automation work will have to be re-tooled to fit the new environment. 
  • Technology Dynamics: Are you looking to change the dynamics of the tools themselves over time? New frameworks for RPA projects will have to be rolled out if you’re looking to update the functionality of what the bots can do. For example, if you implement a chatbot and want to improve the intents it understands and the way it communicates with customers, that requires continual education and maintenance.  

 

So, what’s the moral of the story? While these costs aren’t always exorbitant, they’re also not negligible. When implementing an automation project, be sure to choose a partner that understands – and is transparent about – the future costs associated with your project goals. Don’t get me wrong, the ROI for automation projects is extremely compelling regardless. But to get a holistic idea of your ROI, be risk-averse, and reach the goals you have for your project, you must incorporate ongoing support costs at the start. Learn more about automation at Tangoe. 

Photo of Dale Clark at Tangoe
Dale Clark is Tangoe’s Vice President of Software Engineering. He has spent over 30 years creating commercial software tools and products that simplify, streamline, and automate complex management processes for some of the world’s largest enterprises. His years helping these companies save money and work smarter provides him with a nuanced perspective on the practical business aspects of emerging technology, and he brings that experience to lead Tangoe’s extensive automation portfolio.

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