Advanced business use of robotic process automation is expected to double in Europe by 2020, as companies look to improve customer experience and streamline their finance operations, according to a new report from global technology research and advisory firm Information Services Group.

The firm, in partnership with RPA software provider Automation Anywhere, surveyed more than 500 European business leaders to assess their adoption of RPA technology and services.

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While Europe has been slower to adopt automation technologies than other markets, RPA is moving into the mainstream, with 92 percent of respondents saying they anticipate using RPA by 2020. More than half (54 percent) said they will reach the advanced stage of adoption by then, up from 27 percent currently.

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ISG's research shows that RPA budgets in Europe increased on average by 9 percent in the last year, significantly ahead of the average increase for general IT spending. Of those companies that posted an increase, 25 percent saw a double-digit increase. Third parties such as consultants and service providers account for more than half of this budget.

Improving the quality, speed and efficiency of client-facing and finance functions are becoming top priorities for corporate automation buyers, the study said. Over the next 24 months, respondents said RPA is expected to have the greatest impact on customer service and order-processing functions (43 percent); finance, treasury and audit (42 percent); procurement, logistics and supply chain (40 percent); and sales and marketing (38 percent).

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