Open Source RPA – The new face of innovation and the next evolutionary step in RPA | IA – Part 1 of 6

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Open Source RPA - The new face of innovation and the next evolutionary step in RPA | IA - Part 1 of 6

Open Source RPA – The new face of innovation and the next evolutionary step in RPA | IA – Part 1 of 6

The sign of a maturing market can often be judged by the amount of innovation happening within an industry or sector. For most companies, innovation is a largely inside the walls of an organization. But Open innovation isn’t a new phenomenon. In many sectors, many of the ideas and technologies that are generated emerge from outside of the company’s walls and brought forwards by the participants within an ecosystem.

The term Open Source traditionally refers to software where people can inspect, modify, enhance and share source code because it is publicly accessible and readily available.

The era of Open Source software for mission critical business systems is in play. Open Source software is a driving force behind enterprise innovation, operational effectiveness and business value creation. It integral to businesses large and small.

Open Source RPA has now emerged as a compelling building block for robust, cost-effective enterprise Robotic Process Automation and Intelligent Automation.

From innovative beginnings in academic research, Open Source software has grown into a major phenomenon that has reshaped industries. The Open Source Community has had a number of large success stories.

  • Red Hat ( sold to IBM in 2019 for $34Billion.)
  • MySql
  • OpenOffice
  • Firefox
  • Android
  • Linux

Open Source RPA – The new face of innovation?

There are a great number of commercial RPA vendors on the market. Picking an effective Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform for your organisation is a daunting task.

RPA is still an emerging technology which can be deployed across large and small enterprises. Yet people are still not taking full advantage of its capability.

Searching for an Open Source Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform that let IT teams explore RPA without starting from scratch, or committing to a commercial vendor, can be more daunting still. Multiple open source RPA projects are now underway. These give organisations the option to explore RPA, without the need to commit to a commercial pricing model vendor before they have even had a chance to develop an automation strategy.

What you need to consider when selecting an Open Source RPA platform?

  1. Availability of trained resources. The cost involved in training employees on the tool / Training? Who trains? Online Academy?
  2. Platform or Application Support: Web, Desktop, mainframes, Citrix, SAP, Linux, etc.
  3. License Cost (if applicable)
  4. Enterprise Security
  5. System Integration partners.
  6. Platform updates. Release cycle and stability of the tool. How frequently does the Open Source vendor release an update?
  7. Community – how many members has the Open Source platform forum?
  8. Hardware/Software requirements of the Open Source platform.
  9. Support and update policy of the automation tool.
  10. Citizen Developer ready? Will Citizen Developers understand terms like ‘chron’ or ‘correlation entity ID’? Should they need to?
  11. Attended, Unattended & Hybrid.
  12. Tool kit range / viability and life span
  13.  Future Roadmaps and planned integration with other products and technologies
  14. Cost v. other products (e.g. Microsoft Automation partly in package; $5000 Encoo for unlimited bots)
  15. Who is using the product, where and why?
  16. Life time value and life time cost.
  17. Is now too soon to invest or should you wait until an offering is stronger?
  18. How do you make money? OpenBots business model is based on Enterprise Support and other SAAS based tools. Funding model – free discover, free to build and manage

19. Free to discover, free to build and manage or are there hidden costs?

20. Steep learning curve? How long will it take to learn the fundamentals to implement a solution?

There are a great many questions to be answered. But interesting these are a great many of the same questions you might consider when selecting a commercial Robotic Process Automation platform.

What are the reasons for Open Source RPA?

  1. Cost effective. ‘Free’ licences with no 3 year vendor licence lock-in.
  2. Improve the flow of product ideas. There is a cornucopia of available Open Source components on the internet.
  3. Access large communities of expert practitioners – 1000 thinking heads are better than one.
  4. Open Source technology is integral to mission critical systems
  5. Take control of a platform. Many people prefer Open Source software because they have more control over that kind of software. They can examine the code to make sure it’s not doing anything they don’t want it to do, and they can change parts of it they don’t like.
  6. Community. Open Source software often inspires a community of users and developers to form around it. 
  7. Continuous Improvements. “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”. This is called the Linus Law, as formulated by Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux. It is the mantra of Open Source movement. In simple terms, the open source community has a large number of testers and co-developers base, who are quick to discover problems and provide fixes much faster than commercial counterparts.

What are the reasons against Open Source?

  1. Difficulty in maintaining platform quality. Who will maintain the platform? If the community offers feedback, how do we prioritize what to act on? How might we find a way for contributors to be compensated for their Open Source contributions to encourage activity?
  2. Security. revealing the code makes it easy for nefarious individuals or groups to inject bad code to harm you
  3. Access to skilled labour
  4. Difficulty accessing technical support
  5. Not knowing the source of Open Source code.
  6. Glossing over license rules and requirements.
  7. Underestimating cost of open source software.
  8. Many of the latest hardware are incompatible to the Open Source platform
  9. Risk of orphan software if the code is not maintained.


Any competitive market attracts innovation and competition often in the form of Open Source software. The Robotic Process Automation market is now being challenged by ‘free’ Open Source RPA providers. Whilst most people think of Open Source software and ‘free’ as the same thing, this isn’t always true. Regardless of whether Open Source RPA is free or not, today it is more than a footnote on the SWOT or board meetings notes of the main RPA vendors.

About the authors: Kieran is a Digital Transformation expert. Kieran is recognised as an intelligent automation, data analytics and robotic process automation industry leader. He writes and talks extensively about better ways for businesses to use digital and intelligent automation technologies to drive business performance. Follow Kieran on LinkedIn at, join hom monthly on LinkedIn live or connect on Twitter

About the authors: Tolani is a Senior RPA Developer with professional experience in delivering 30+ automated processes in financial services. She is an avid reader and follower of the RPA, Intelligent Automation (IA) and AI spaces. She produces contents on RPA, IA and AI to educate and enlighten people via multiple channels, including Quora and LinkedIn. Recently, she launched the Linkedin #RPAJargonBuster, a curated news mini-feed on the RPA, IA and AI. Follow her on Linkedin – Follow her on Twitter – Follow her on Quora –

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Note: The views expressed above are our views and not those of my employer or the employers of the contributing expert

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