Let me start this blog by admitting I was wrong. Last November I wrote a post that asked the question, “If Robotic Process Automation is so great – why isn’t it everywhere?” The article answered the question by pointing to industry immaturity. Granted, by the fall of 2015 RPA technology had come light years from just a few years back, but I concluded
there were three bottlenecks that explained “why isn’t it everywhere”: RPA innovation was outpacing customer awareness; providers were scrambling to ramp up client services; providers were also building scalable networks of partnerships and alliances for implementation support. Nine months later I look back and realize I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
In retrospect, the premise of the November article was simply incorrect. I viewed lackluster adoption as reflecting implementations projects delayed by those three bottlenecks – something along the lines of a success problem for the industry.
The underlying premise was that the vast majority of those delayed implementations would be successful, fuel the fire of RPA enthusiasm and put the “why isn’t it everywhere” question to rest. Wrong.
Certainly the question hasn’t been put to rest because RPA isn’t
everywhere. In fact, Blue Prism (the only publicly traded provider) shows a modest €1M revenue uptick in the first six months of 2016 vs 2015. No question it’s decent news and likely to get better – but hardly a hockey-stick growth curve either.
What truly appears to be the unmentioned elephant in the RPA room is the issue of struggling implementations. It’s likely third of all enterprise implementations struggle to succeed – and many don’t. Of course there’s no reason for news of this sort to be publicized, but no one I’ve shared it with has disagreed – except to say the number is probably a bit low.
Of course, some may have jumped the gun and started before proper support was in place. The Achilles heel of projects – poor planning mixed with bad execution – likely account for others. But my principal miscalculation in the Fall was to assume the level of RPA technology capable of making implementations easier, faster – and more successful, was – or would quickly be – widely available.
By early 2016 two phenomena made it clear that wasn’t the case. One was UiPath’s win ratio for competitive RFI’s: always good, we began to experience unexpectedly consistent successes – particularly in the product assessment phase. The other was the number of new customers who purchased UiPath products to replace their original implementation choice.
Which is not say implementations without UiPath technology aren’t successful, because they certainly are. But troublesome, lengthy implementations would help account for the relative lack of “buzz” or the incendiary word of mouth typically associated with transformational technologies.
What does it mean to say RPA technology should make implementations easier and faster? Let’s begin what UiPath means by automating intelligently and then get down to specifics – because a technology discussion without them is worthless.
UiPath defines the term as the application of artificial intelligence and related new technologies, including computer vision; cognitive automation and machine learning to robotic process automation. This point of this convergence is to create automation capabilities that significantly increase the value of RPA for our customers.
Daniel Dines, UiPath Founder & CEO often compares RPA to an alligator: a powerful reptile shackled by its tiny brain. The analogy vividly frames the challenge facing RPA providers, and one in which he believes the company holds a second-mover advantage. “We came to the market after our major competitors,” he says, “but we’re not late. It means we’re innovating with current technology rather than ten-year-old architecture.”
UiPath has developed innovative solutions by using artificial intelligence (AI) to increase robotic software capabilities in three functional areas.
our robots have intelligent eyes to “see” screen elements using contextual relationships – just as you and I do. This gives them unequalled 20/20 accuracy & precision.
our robots have learned to manage workflows and react to work volumes & service levels by queuing work & assigning robots without human intervention.
working with our partner Celaton, we design specific client solutions built on the automation of unstructured data and the cognition necessary to discern its meaning and intent.
For many new customers, their first RPA implementation is also the first view of their robotic technology in action. Of course, it’s likely there would have been demos and POCs, but those typically take place in controlled environments – and can resemble the accuracy of an auto maker’s mpg claims.
Once the implementation begins, any notion that all RPA products are alike disappears. Now the nuances of operational workflows have to be accommodated by the chosen automation software: seemingly minor shifts of screen elements; multiple ERP systems and instances; virtualized environments or synchronizing high volume transaction processes across unattended automation.
Successful implementations need technology that can handle these and other nuances out of the box – without special attention, custom development, lengthy delays or compromises on quality and service levels. Even one of those handicaps can turn an implementation into a struggle.
Walking through the specific capabilities behind the implementation value of UiPath’s intelligent automation will illustrate this point.
with human-like vision, our robots are able to implement all desktop & web environments up to 2-4X faster than competitors. Yes, two to four times faster. Why? Other robots are blind and locate screen elements with various aids – configured searches or coordinates. They may need custom development to perform well and even slight and intermittent screen changes can disrupt testing or production results.
Citrix implementations are up to 20X faster. Yes, twenty times faster. Actually, our computer vision is indifferent to desktop, web or Citrix environments – it implements them all at the same speed. But Citrix is so challenging to competitor technologies the gap in implementation speed widens by a factor of 5X-10X. Since almost every enterprise customer has Citrix requirements, marginal Citrix automation capabilities is a serious implementation issue.
AI robotic managers drastically reduce the human footprint for this role. While human managers will always be in the reporting, management and issue escalation chains, robotic mgmt. will not depend on them to insure service levels are met by: synchronizing queued work and robot deployments with scheduled workflows and events; monitoring & triggering fail-over procedures, as needed.
Robot-to-robot management is a huge value for enterprise customers because it accelerates implementations by simplifying the roll-out of perhaps the most important RPA area – autonomous/unattended automation. No other use of robotic automation can equal the ROI and operational improvement impact of this area.
not only handles the automation of very unstructured content (think irregular paper invoices) but can interpret content and apply rules (think disparaging or urgent social media posts).
Cognitive automation is a natural extension of RPA by enabling it to process unstructured as well as unstructured data. UiPath has a close partnership with the leading cognitive automation technology company – Celaton – and a joint track record of success in robotic & cognitive automation implementations. Our partnership capabilities are such that Capgemini has incorporated them into its own robotic automation solutions.
I’m confident intelligent automation will become much more commonplace in the months ahead, improving implementation experiences and allowing RPA “buzz” and adoption to grow and reach its potential. The logic is compelling. Everything intelligent automation can do autonomously is otherwise a human, or human-assisted, activity. What customer implementation team wants more, rather than fewer, tasks?
At UiPath the alligator is gone and RPA is now longer a reptile. The only question is – how much more will it evolve?
by Ian Barkin
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a critical component of the ‘Future of Work’ toolkit. If you’re new to the concept of Robotic Process Automation you may be wondering what the term actually means. We’ve created this blog post to help you understand RPA and learn about the many ways it can add value in your enterprise. By the end of this article, we hope to have given you concrete information about what RPA is, and answers about the ways RPA can be used.
Symphony defines RPA as any capability (software and services) that allows you to transact in any IT application or website, typically in the same way a human would, to automate complex, rule-based work. In other words, RPA software allows developers to tailor complex automations to a company’s processes. When an RPA robot is at work, it performs tasks just like a human would: logging in, operating applications, entering data, performing complex calculations and logging out.
Because RPA is software-based, it can be used to perform various tasks. These include maintenance of records, queries, calculations, and transactions. Additionally, any application commonly used by your company can be operated by RPA. For example, Citrix, .NET, HTML, and Java are all technologies commonly supported by RPA. Compatible systems include Mainframe Terminals, SAP, Oracle, Blackline, and many more. Programmable automation means that RPA can be configured to perform almost any rule-based task.
RPA can help digitally transform your business and unlock value by providing:
All these factors can set your company apart from competitors and are highly valuable in terms of shaping your business’s digital operations strategy.
RPA can be applied to all sorts of rules-based process in a wide range of sectors, including process automation of office tasks, IT support, and assisted automation in customer service. With such a variety of areas that RPA is known to be successful in, it’s no wonder that so many companies are taking advantage of the technology.
If you’re worried about RPA being able to suit your company’s needs, don’t be. WorkSocial has worked with clients across a wide range of industries including banking, healthcare, logistics, consumer products, food & beverage, entertainment and more; and on as wide a scope of processes as HR, Finance, Supply Chain, Procurement and beyond. So we can assure you that RPA easily translates to many different industries and functions. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss how RPA might apply to your particular industry or business function.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but Symphony does suggest a few important steps. First, get educated. This often begins with online research (like you’ve done to find this blog). Then, speak to experts who’ve gained experience through doing. There are a lot of RPA tools out there (seemingly more every day). Get objective and experienced advice. Finally, have a change management plan. Successful RPA deployments require a broad set of stakeholders involved. Of most importance, and we can’t stress this enough, plan to engage IT sooner than later – they are your ally and partner on this journey. Plan to identify areas of highest impact and benefit. And plan to have budgets and resources necessary to make substantive progress in 2017.
Want more information on the details of RPA? We’ve got it. Check out our blog for insights from our experts. We also have a technical blog series on RPA to teach you about the most important features to look out for when selecting an RPA tool. We hope this article, as well as our other posts, help you to get a better understanding of Robotic Process Automation and how it can be an important component of your digital transformation toolkit.
In recent years, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) have often been discussed in the same forums.
BPO and off-shoring have been widely used by businesses to reduce back office and operational costs through the use of low-cost labour markets.
Now RPA is being seen as the way to continue the drive for business process efficiency and cost reduction. At the same time, RPA is acting as a fundamental disruptor to the conventional wisdom of labour arbitrage.
Forget the idea of walking into an office and seeing humans replaced by rows of androids; the “robots” of RPA are invisible. They sit inside your systems, moving between different applications, inputting, checking, updating and processing far faster than any human could.
Sometimes they’re only “hired” to work an hour a day, or overnight, by a particular business unit – so a single robot could be shared with another department or even organisation.
Like workflow-building applications, RPA software can lead to an immediate increase in process efficiency, accuracy, compliance and speed of completion – all while removing manual errors and increasing customer satisfaction.
Actual results will vary for each organisation and for different processes, but RPA programs typically deliver cost savings of 25% to 45%. Pay-back periods are often measured in weeks, instead of the months and years required for some software development projects.
In the context of BPO, RPA can enable the business to bring processes back onshore at the same — or reduced — cost, with the advantage of gaining increased control over those processes. Instead of the vanilla, one-size-fits-all approach of BPO, the business can tweak processes according to local needs.
All the usual suspects can benefit from RPA: mundane, repetitive, frequent, high volume tasks; rule-based vs. judgement-based decisions; manually intensive and error-prone processes.
However, because it’s so quick and easy to make changes, RPA is also highly suited to processes that regularly change and adapt – especially those that are too costly or complex to re-engineer in the traditional way within the short term.
Good candidates for RPA are processes that intake structured data and transfer it across multiple systems – as well as time-consuming, low-volume activities that require frequent “system hopping,” for example, HR onboarding.
Apart from the availability and emerging value of RPA technology, there are some strong business drivers for adoption.
Over the last couple of decades, many enterprises have exhausted their options — including global labour arbitrage and lower telecommunication costs — for achieving back-office cost efficiencies.
It’s often overlooked that big outsourcing contracts demand constant management and legal oversight. This additional overhead is borne by the client and rarely factored into the true cost of an outsourcing deal.
We’re starting to hear the terms “on-shoring” and “back-shoring” used more often… and RPA can be the enabler. Because robots cost around a third of an off-shore worker and can work around the clock, even tasks that have been relatively cheaply outsourced can be brought back under control again, for less cost.
It’s not feasible for IT departments to deliver on the “long-tail” of minor change requests from the business, while continuing to deliver on medium- to long-term technology programs and new, cutting-edge innovation.
Priorities are set, and sometimes it takes too long for seemingly simple amendments. This means the business can’t respond to market change or customer demands fast enough to remain competitive.
Many change requests – whilst critical to process improvement – are not cost-efficient to deliver through traditional system enhancement and system-integration solutions. Some lead to knock-on effects on existing system functionality.
RPA focuses on the business process and leaves the existing IT systems alone. As such it is essentially a tactical “non-IT” solution that can be built and deployed quickly for immediate benefits.
RPA technology works on top of existing IT architecture at the presentation layer of business applications. Developers build robots through point-and-click functionality, using a graphical interface similar to MS Visio.
People with no specific knowledge of software programming language – but who have process expertise and an analytical bent – can be trained within a few weeks to automate processes using an RPA tool.
It’s fine to jump straight into an RPA pilot without an overarching strategy. However, while discreet pilots may deliver local wins to individual departments, it could leave you with potentially broken or sub-optimal end-to-end processes. Additionally, the wider organisational implications of having robots in production may be overlooked.
To truly transform your organisation through the use of robotics, you’ll need to be clear on your overall RPA strategy.
Establish an enterprise-level RPA operating model that covers the breadth of organisational, process and technology components needed to establish RPA as a sustainable capability within an organisation.
Your return on RPA investment will vary according to the processes you choose to automate.
Pick the pilots and initial projects you automate carefully, so the entire organisation can see the potential benefits and start thinking about which processes to automate next.
If you don’t apply enough due diligence upfront to identify the best processes for RPA — and build in the necessary automated error-handing rules — the results may disappoint. This can result in reduced interest in the business for future RPA initiatives, with subsequent lost opportunities for more efficient, resilient and faster processes.
Without a good understanding of how RPA fits within your existing IT architecture, project management, software development and process improvement methodologies, it may not get the necessary executive support to spread through the right levels within the organisation.
While IT departments will be glad to shed responsibility for application updates, they will need to be reassured that RPA won’t “break things.” They’ll also need to know about the security aspects of linking multiple applications along your “robot process line.”
RPA is not the end of the workplace as we know it. The winners in the digital world will develop an effective “digital pairing” strategy – where robots perform the mundane tasks while humans manage exceptions and orchestrate the robots to interact with each other through end-to-end digital, process orchestration.
Start small on your RPA journey. Spend time conducting technology proof-of-concepts on a few different processes, so you’ll understand the nature of processes that are most suitable for RPA.
Once you’re convinced of the technology and its benefits, leave the technology behind and start developing an enterprise-wide strategy to use robotics throughout your operations.
It is then time to look at your business process portfolio and evaluate how the introduction of robotics can change the rationale for insource vs. outsource or the onshoring vs. offshoring of these processes.
You can choose to go on the robotics journey alone or bring in an experienced partner.
Happy middle of the week, Algorology subscriber!
This week has been crazy, from machines getting citizenship to beating human surgeons.
A non-human woman named Sophia has become a citizen of SA, making it the first country to grant a robot the right to citizenship.
Elon Musk immediately replied to this:
“Just feed it The Godfather movies as input. What’s the worst that could happen?”
Obviously, he isn’t fooled by Sophia’s delicate features, fully expecting her to go the Skynet route and murder everyone.
But what does this mean in a legal way? Is a robot now a fully participating member of society?
Can I sue Sophia?
Does she have the same rights as me?
Can Sophia go to jail for killing someone?
Can Sophia sue creators for being abusive?
Can she sue me? Can she sue you? 😨
I don’t think I’m ready for this mentally. This is too damn fast.
What do you think?
Would love to get some lawyers in the thread here too, tag a colleague if relevant.
Imagine that you’re on the operating table, waiting for surgeons to cut a tumor out of your flesh.
You want their cuts to be as precise and accurate as possible.
Leaving behind no tumor fragments that might cause the cancer to recur, yet also not removing too much healthy tissue 😬
Rather than an expert human surgeon, you might want the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) hovering over you.
In a recent set of experiments, STAR’s inventors showed that it makes more precise cuts than expert surgeons, and damages less of the surrounding flesh.
This is huge.
The researchers presented their results at the recent robotics conference IROS 2017.
“I really believe that this is the future of surgery,” says study coauthor Axel Krieger , an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland.
Krieger says the next step is to train STAR to deal with tumors that have complex 3D shapes, which will require new cameras for visual tracking and more sophisticated surgical planning software.
I’m super excited about the future of healthcare and its advances.
Though a bit scared of robots cutting my flesh 😲
Are you? Check out the discussion here:
They didn’t let me board a plane
I was considered “untrustworthy” and government refused my right to travel. As a low-rating citizen I couldn’t do many things I used to.
I couldn’t reserve a table at my favorite restaurant.
I couldn’t enroll my kids in high-paying private schools.
I couldn’t even upgrade my internet speed.
The algorithms determined my low score based on my online/offline activity & social circle of my low score friends.
Sounds like a futuristic Big Brother out of control?
No, it’s already a reality in China, where the government is using Social Credit System to rate the trustworthiness of billions.
The government is using it as a way to measure and enhance trust and to build a culture of sincerity.
Participating is voluntary for now. But by 2020 it will be mandatory. The behavior of every single citizen will be tracked/scored.
While this is a scary & radical implementation of the algorithmic monitoring, it actually gives us a glimpse into the future of our society.
We will be soon perceived as data points monitored, assisted and guided by algorithms.
How do we make this process as transparent as possible? To prevent an algorithmic chaos with data bias and errors.
If you’ve enjoyed this digest and want to thank me for it – the best way to do it is through forwarding this email to a few of your friends/colleagues so I can engage more people in the relevant discussions. Thanks ❤️
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IoT has accelerated co-creation between companies and has helped create new value. But in order to leverage the full potential of IoT, data processing must go beyond cyberspace. New and innovative services in the real world will depend on our ability to combine data with physical operations. That’s why robotics will play such a crucial role moving forward, as they become our bridge between the real and virtual worlds.
At Workocial, we’ve curated a wide range of robotic vendors to teach RPA. WorkSocial is now a breeding ground of various RPA applications. By leveraging our expertise building communities and operational technologies (OT) we have created a buzz. But we’re not just developing technologies without reason – its the future.
We’re implementing technologies that with socially grow Jersey City.
By integrating robotics into an IoT platform using that technology in social infrastructures, we’re actively promoting initiatives to improve people’s lives.
Companies like Hitachi & Panasonic are getting interested in our platform.
We’re focusing on co-creation of a community where learning meets business problems.
Call us at (201) 210-8255. Lets talk about hosting your next training or hackathon.