One question. Many answers. And proof of why we need to smash the training model!

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We are not a research house. 

We are not a polling organisation. 

We are not a consulting business.

We just ask one question a week, and see what the market (i.e. you!) really thinks .

Last week we asked:

“When you have a question/problem - where do you get your answers?”


On the one hand, there were some obvious answers. #1 source = the internet. Doh!


On the other hand, why are the RPA platform websites not the #1 source? 


But what we confirmed this week was that almost no one is relying on their manager for knowledge. We know there isn’t a generation of experienced RPA developers who can provide technical help at the coal face.

Colleagues are not much better as a reliable source. You’re on your own!

What is totally shocking is how little help the training providers offer. This is one of the gazillion reasons we set out to smash the traditional training model.

Currently, what happens is that you pay for some training. It starts on one date. It finishes in a week or two weeks. Then it is goodbye! No help, no ongoing support, nothing.

And, you’ve spent a lot.


Our subscription model, means you can go to all the training, whenever it suits you.

If you want to do the live classes, you just turn up.

If you want on-demand training, the content is there for you.

Want to talk to an expert?

Well, all our classes are live and you can ask any questions at all.

And your subscription gives access to all the training on all the platforms - PLUS business/analyst training.

So, yes we were disappointed about how badly the training organisations are supporting the market. But, it also validated the need for a radically different approach to training. 

Want a free Class Pass to try it out?

Just leave your details below here.

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Knowledge as a Service, Learning as a Skill

This week, we have been promoting our new subscription service:  RPA Unlimited. Providing unlimited access to our curriculum of RPA technical and business skills for $349/month. Training has evolved, it's now knowledge as a service.

Having a groundbreaking new service is one thing, but it's actually only half of a broader equation. Accessing continuous learning is really a state of mind, a receptiveness to new information.  

Students need to learn how to learn continuously, exercising their skills across increasingly broader domains. During the design of our RPA Unlimited service, we considered whether to specialise along the lines of specific technologies. It became very clear though that many RPA developers (who have the right mindset) are skilled in multiple disciplines. This influenced our final decision to provide access to the whole curriculum and continuously grow that curriculum to meet the demands of our community.

Knowledge is a service, Learning is a skill. Students who continuously challenge themselves to learn more will be in greater demand, learn faster, innovate more and stand out from the specialists by provides broader understanding over remembering facts.

For businesses or individuals, our RPA Unlimited Service provides:

  • Blue Prism Foundation

  • Automation Anywhere Basic and Advanced

  • UiPath Foundation and Advanced

  • RPA Knowledge for Analysts, Project Managers and Exec

Check Out Next Weeks classes ↓↓

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Edward Brooks
Founder of The RPA Academy

Bridging a Gap or Leaping the Chasm?

Last week the London RPA and AI meetup gathered together representatives from Automation Anywhere, Accenture and IBM to discuss how to bridge the gap from RPA to AI.

The collective experience of the panel immediately challenged that back-office automation is simply going too slow, giving examples of industrial robots with automation capabilities being around for over 30 years, why is RPA moving so slowly?

Another view cited consumer AI, where products like Alexa have become commonplace and the use of AI in our shopping, smartphones, or TV viewing is prevalent. If AI has moved so quickly at how, why is it so difficult for businesses to move at a similar pace?

Answers and excuses came thick and fast...some thought it was ignorance of the opportunity provided by RPA and AI, the misguided belief that automation was only for large businesses and doesn't apply to SMB's. Other cited change fatigue and no energy to look at another wave of technology change. All agreed that getting started was easy, but scaling up and sustaining the program is difficult.

The panel all agreed that the technology is mature, affordable and capable, whatever your needs, but warned that the technology alone will not solve your problems. Without a doubt, the new wave of Intelligent Automation (RPA + AI) is providing digital transformation opportunities for businesses but the success of these programs relies on the people and processes, not the technology.  

Processes need to be reimagined, the nature of work changed and this requires forward thinking skills not just technological ones. The panel referenced a study that suggested that 80% of the value of RPA came from businesses being forced to review and optimize their legacy processes!  

For many, this is not a gap to be bridged, but an impossible chasm to leap, but if businesses wait too long to start they will now be left in the dust.

If you're wondering where to begin with RPA, then check out our RPA Unlimited offer which provides both business and technical skills.


Rob King
VP Product at The RPA Academy

What is wrong with your RPA project? See your answers here...and the advice for your projects.

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Every week we get the chance to ask one simple question. And then sit back and watch all week as the questions come in. In fact, what really happens is that every question we ask makes us want to ask another 100 questions. But you are busy and we are not a research business, so you are probably just glad that we keep it simple.


The one thing I want to emphasise from last week’s results is this. You can choose to sit back and feel that expectations are wrong. That’s fine. But you have arrived at an incredible time for your personal development and your career. RPA is still relatively new - and has many years of evolution and growth. You can complain about the project you are working on, or you can step up and lead, taking your knowledge and perspective, and using it to really make a difference. And that difference will make a huge difference to your career path, in and around RPA.

This week’s absolute headlines are:

  • RPA projects are trying to do too much! 75% of you say that it was a significant issue; a further 17% said it was a bit of an issue!

    • Knowing that most of you are still in the early days of your RPA project, this is a major, major issue. You can blame the marketing that RPA is cheap, easy, fast and anyone can do it. But that doesn’t help you.

    • What we can advise on is that you apply your professional judgement and ensure that your voice is heard. One of our clients was recently reflecting on their first 6 months, and said that, at the start the leadership had said “we’ll deliver by November”. The developers had said “it will likely be February”. And guess who ended up being 100% correct!!!

    • In the early days, it is all about getting a few internal “stories” up and running. Processes that are real to your organisation, that you can use to say “hey, this stuff really works”, using language and examples that your internal audience can relate to and, fundamentally, believe.

  • Next up is not enough resources. 86% of you said that this was some kind of an issue. 

    • This is maybe just part of the market - there are not that many of you with RPA experience. If your organisation is in its early days of RPA, then chances are you’re doing the pioneering, and are unlikely to have a team or peers who know much more than you do.

    • Obviously, we’re going to recommend leveraging somewhere like The RPA Academy, where you can get expert-led training AND support. If not us, make sure you can find help. This problem is not going to be solved by throwing resources at it - because those resources don’t exist.

    • On the flip side, this is a huge opportunity for you to embed yourself as the expert, and carve out a space for yourself that will grow and evolve with your RPA platform and the ecosystem around it.

    • Inexperienced leadership and limited expertise really aren’t a surprise - don’t let these factors become excuses for you. It will be the same in almost all organisations around the globe, so the grass is not going to be greener on that. As I said above, take advantage of it to build your own leadership role, based on your growing expertise and the answers you can drive.

  • Hidden at the bottom of the results table are two gems - Scope Creep and Targets Not Clear.

    • This is absolutely project management 101. Certainly it opens up warning signs to anyone, at any stage in their journey. You need to have the team 100% clear on the objectives. I like the idea of pioneering, but that doesn’t mean just wandering around until you’ve done “something”.

    • Clear objectives, clear targets, and realistic but flexible timelines (this stuff is new to you, remember) should be the bedrock of anything you are doing. To repeat what I said above, if they are not there, it is your job to ensure that they are there. Simple. Don’t pass the buck to anyone. This is what leadership is made of, and leadership is as much your responsibility, at any level of the organisation, so don’t rely on someone with a bigger title for this.

  • ROI too high? Fascinating!

    • I wonder how many people actually know the financial targets of the project they work on. Certainly, from my personal experience, this is something that is usually vague and often kept pretty private. Great if you know the target ROI and then don’t agree with it - that’s a step in the right direction. Now you just have to influence it a bit.

The Half-Life of Knowledge ◐

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Since then, the amount of data is doubling each year.  From a learning perspective, this is creating two distinct problems:

  • The knowledge you have is much greater to do the job

  • The shelf-life of your knowledge is much shorter because it's changing so quickly

This is the Half-Life of Knowledge

Michael Simmons has looked more deeply at this problem and concluded:

"You probably need to devote at least five hours a week to learning just to keep up with your current field - ideally more if you want to get ahead."


It's a dilemma that the RPA Academy is here to help solve. Our new RPA Unlimited subscription provides the knowledge you require when you need it, but now as a service!  We run a regular curriculum of RPA courses online with live instructors able to translate the theory into the practice you need. Our experienced team of instructors are there to provide the coaching and support needed to ease the glide path from novice to experienced practitioner.

➤➤ Sign up now for only $349/month and have immediate access to over 200 hours of live lessons every month
 

Founder of the RPA Academy, Ed Brooks, had this to say about the new service:
"The idea to provide a radically different approach to learning has been a passion since founding the RPA Academy 3 years ago, our new service is the answer to the many challenges businesses and individuals face of accessing knowledge, skills and support on an ongoing basis."

Your Business is paying too much for training!

Traditional training is broken.  

It's expensive. It's focused on theory and certification instead of practical knowledge. New on-demand models are not working too well either, the quality of content is variable, and where it is good it is still the theory and not the practice.

We have the solution. HERE

We've been talking to businesses for many years and have seen the problems that they face. The cost of training a single person is high and it can take a long time to become effective in the workplace. The technology landscape is constantly changing and keeping up to date with those changes can be difficult. And very few people move on to the more advanced topics because of the high cost. And then the staff leave because the market for contracting is so lucrative.
                           
For a single monthly fee, we have the solution to all these problems.

  • Students can choose the modules that are relevant to their specific needs

  • Live instructors lead the classes and are available to answer real-world questions when challenges are faced

  • All classes are recorded and can be revisited by the student

  • Advanced topics are all included for the same monthly cost

  • New materials are added regularly to keep students abreast of changes in the market

  • If a member of your team leaves you simply move the subscription to a new member of the team and get them started immediately

SUBSCRIBE TO RPA UNLIMITED 

If this wasn't enough to tempt you, look at the next two weeks ↓ ↓ ↓ 

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We also provide enterprise arrangements, contact be@therpaacademy.com to learn more.

The RPA Academy has always been innovative in its approach, this is going to disrupt the market! People talk about the skills gap without proposing solutions, this is the solution.

Rob King
VP Product at The RPA Academy

Ouch! What is holding you back? Answers here...

This is like walking down a street full of RPA professionals, as a roving reporter with a microphone and a cameraman, asking one simple question.

But, are people really that open and frank in front of a camera, when you can see their name and face? 

Our weekly online surveys are anonymous - so we get a different level of transparency and honesty. Yes, we’d love to dig deeper, but one simple question can reveal a lot.

Last week’s question was "What would you do differently? (Or where did you go wrong?)”

It could also have been “What is the one bit of advice you’d give anyone setting off down the RPA journey?"

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The clear headlines are:

  • Expectations are key! The “cheap, easy, and fast” myth is getting exposed for the lie that it is. Let’s at least get the marketing guys saying, “cheaper, easier, and faster” than alternatives.

  • We hear stories of projects where the leadership has said “we’ll deliver by November” and the developers have pushed back and said “February”, and guess who was proven right!

  • Maybe the advice from this is “start off with limited expectations”. Be confident RPA will work and drive value - but that, until you can understand your platform and clearly see how you can get to scale, you can’t have real expectations. Of course, the corporate world won’t give you that freedom - but it is worth playing back to your leadership the dangers of too high expectations. 

  • The best news of all = the choice of platform is not the source of your concern. Respondents feel pretty comfortable with their choice of technology. If this answer had been different, there would be a real issue in the market. So this is the most reassuring response. 

  • Nor is anyone really complaining about bad leadership. If expectations are not aligned, it is largely because of naivety around the marketing messages and reality. It is not due to incompetence. We’re all pioneering to a certain extent with RPA, so respondents are pretty understanding.

  • #2 issue identified is Governance. Certainly, given the responses, this is an area for deeper investigation. I don’t think we’d see different results if we looked at projects in other fields. However, it is also one of the most fixable of problems. Go back and look at your RPA platform’s methodology and do a quick audit. In fact, get each of your team to take 30 minutes to do this today, and schedule a team meeting for tomorrow to discuss and implement the results.

  • Support and Mentoring. Bear in mind that RPA is a new frontier for 90+% of the world. Your boss and colleagues are not likely to know much more than you do. But there are people out there who do have experience and wisdom to share - it is just very hard to find and tap in to in a way that doesn’t disrupt the work they are doing. However, if you could do this, you would! [Note - watch out for our announcements in this late-summer].

Help the market with your insights and experience. This week’s Question Of The Week is here https://therpaacademy.com/qotw

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Incredible RPA Training Offer only available from The RPA Academy - Act Now!

Today the RPA Academy is launching it's Unlimited RPA Training Offer, for just $349 month you can join our classes in

  • Blue Prism Foundation

  • Automation Anywhere Basic and Advanced

  • UiPath Foundation and Advanced

  • RPA Knowledge for Analysts, Project Managers and Exec

SIGN UP NOW

This is an unbeatable launch offer so act now:

  • All classes are led by live instructors online, available to answer your questions

  • Choose your own learning paths to accelerate the speed to become effective 

  • Zero Risk with our 7-day money back guarantee

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP NOW

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"The RPA Academy has a long history of innovative solutions.  We are now eliminating the greatest barriers to entry: Time and Cost, and providing a broad and deep curriculum.  Subscribers will be able to choose from over 200 hours of live classes every month for a single low monthly subscription."

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Edward Brooks | Founder of The RPA Academy

“The world will never move this slowly again”

First, the great and exciting news. 

There has never been a more exciting time to be in technology - in fact, in business full stop.

On the one hand, the pace of innovation is so strong in every single area of the economy - from agriculture to space travel. We’ve got fruit being picked by machines and journeys to distant planets being actively pursued.

Maturing platforms, such as RPA, are growing arms and legs, either on their own, or with ecosystem partners plugging in to them.

As my favorite phrase goes - "the world will never move this slowly again”.

On the other hand, the big economies are strong and there is super-low general unemployment. Dig in to the technical niches that will deliver the innovation, and there really is almost no one available. 

So we can take risks and still know that there is a fall back. A start-up doesn’t work, and you can always get your old job back. A project doesn’t work and your employer will still keep you. 

Add to this all that there is increasing top-down demand for the application of technology - from Boards, Shareholders, Active Investors.

Top down, bottom up, sideways or whatever direction, none of this is going to do anything apart from speed up.

But. But. But…

With all this new “stuff”, workforce size limited by immigration policies and legacy low childbirth rates, who is going to do the work? 

Even if it is the existing workforce, how are they going to know:

  1. What to do?

  2. How to do it?

  3. And where to get help?

This is the biggest issue we see in the market. The one thing that can slow the pace of innovation - and certainly the pace of application of that innovation.

Skills are short.

Expertise is scarce (and busy - delivering projects or selling projects).

Knowledge (as much as there is) is fragmented.

There will always be some degree of pioneering, and that needs to be encouraged. 

How quickly we can can learn from pioneers and disseminate their knowledge will be the single biggest determinant in how fast we can all go.

Disseminated of knowledge - quickly and effectively. That’s the issue to be looking at - not the empty, unsolvable issues around “the future of work”. 

We just don’t know what is going to happen and when, so stop going on about an unknowable future. 

All we can do is ensure that we - you, me, our colleagues, our organizations - have access to the knowledge that they need, when they need it. There has to be a conduit for all of that. And the market can do the rest.

This is where we are focusing our next steps:

  • Easy access to new ideas and application of existing technologies

  • Active training on how to follow through and implement them at the coal face

  • And providing support, when it is needed, when you hit real problems/issues

Also, keeping the price at level that you or your organization can afford to invest and keep investing in this incredible, exciting, totally unknowable, and long road ahead.

We’re taking immediate steps to open up knowledge around RPA.

You can learn ALL the core RPA platforms (Blue PrismAutomation Anywhere, and UiPath - with more to come) for $349 a month (cancel any time).

It also includes the Business/Analyst training. No longer will there be a divide between the “technical knowledge” and the “business knowledge”. That in itself has been an unhelpful barrier to the deployment and ramp-up of RPA.

All of this is live, online and expert-led. Yes, the recording will be there if you miss a class.

The idea is that you can start immediately, access the on-demand training to get started, then join the next live classes. You can do one class or all the courses on all the platforms - all for $349.

But it revolves around connecting you with the experts - no matter where you are or at what level your RPA skills.

The full details are here

And spread the word!

Regards,
Edward Brooks - Founder, The RPA Academy

Meetups Rock!

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Business Side of RPA

Personally, I am a big fan of Meetups. Specifically, those relating to RPA and AI, they're my guilty pleasure. If they involve beer and a few slices of pizza too, what is there not to like?!

Last week I happened to be speaking at the RPA Meetup Milton Keynes (UK) and that has made me think a little more about why I like them so much. Firstly, they are all very different, and that part of the appeal; whether auditoriums or just the local bar, they all have their own tone and approach. 

They are full of like-minded individuals, and you are guaranteed to find some interesting stories, challenges and solutions from those around you. Now, this may sound a little crazy but while I love public speaking, I find networking quite difficult. I'm sure many people can sympathize with this challenge and may feel a bit daunted by the prospect of networking with a bunch of strangers. Don't be. Meetups are always on the right side of informal to make this a natural, relaxing and entertaining thing to do. If conferences are intimidating, start with a few meetups to warm up to the idea of networking.

There are also some amazing speakers, this week I heard about the results of market research in RPA recruitment and a brilliant AI practitioner from UiPath describing the impressive AI Roadmap for 2019. This could be a wild ride (as the lyrics say) and 2019 is already lining up to be an exciting year.

The recurring theme of the technology skills gap raised its head again, but pleasantly, the solutions and opportunities for resolving these problems were discussed. This week we have a webinar entitled The Growth Mindset, which continues this exact conversation: solutions all exist, but a mindset of continuous learning is needed for it to be successful.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, our Business Side of RPA online training has reached the halfway point, technical training, online and classroom, is running for all three of our main product partners: UiPath,  Automation Anywhere and Blue Prism.Also, check out our home page for details.

And remember to take some time for yourself, May is Mental Health Month, find out more about it here.

-Rob King | The RPA Academy

Disrupting Recruitment

Here at the RPA Academy we often get questions from students about their career development and recruitment. It's not surprising, like most technology-driven industries, everyone focuses on the tech! But what about the people side of all this?

Our pure focus is on getting people knowledge. As you’ll see more and more in the coming months, this is about:

· showing people what you can do (awareness),

· teaching them how to do it (training)

· and being there to help when they hit issues (support).


However, this still needs you to find the right people, for the right roles - either full time or contracting.

Traditional recruiting still accounts for the vast majority of the market. Done well, it is a value add. But most of the market is just relying on an old database or their interpretation of what a LinkedIn profile says. And just because it mentions “RPA,” it doesn’t make you a developer.

Plus it slows down the market. When projects need to move fast, the recruiting model has to go at the right speed and add value immediately. Larger companies are also losing out to nimble operations able to scoop up the good candidates first. The traditional way isn't working.

Let us introduce you to RPA Talent. Super-simple on many levels. These guys are focused on the RPA Market and coming at it from a people perspective. However, don’t be surprised if you see the same thing pop up for other niches. This is a highly transportable model. Whether you are an individual looking to develop your personal brand or a company looking hire professional staff, RPA Talent has a new model for you to try.

Recruitment needs disrupting. And transparency helps any market. That can be hard to do, but seeing clear feedback on the candidate and the employer is a revolutionary area that RPA Talent does not shirk away from addressing.

You’re changing the way the world works in your daily job. Now help change the way the recruiting world works. It is free to do so take a look!

For more details check out our latest blogswebinars, and training.


Edward Brooks | Founder, The RPA Academy

Digital Workforce for Hire

I've often described that your digital workforce has more similarities to your human workforce than it does to using a traditional piece of software. With computer software, you're typically all-in from the very beginning and little effort is needed to maintain after implementation. For your digital workforce, you have to consider whether using full-time, part-time or temporary digital workers is needed and ongoing maintenance and operations can be an unwelcome surprise.

There is a growing trend for businesses to look for 3rd parties for help when it comes to delivering and maintaining RPA. Some have managed to achieve a successful start but then struggle to scale up, others have simply struggled to get going when adopting a go-it-alone approach.

New terminology is appearing to describe the new business models: "Robots as a Service," "RPA as a Service," "Centre of excellence as a service." They are all describing roughly the same thing, an option to outsource the development and support of your robots to another company.

Robots as a Service (RaaS) provides a new option to consider; moving the responsibility for Design, Development and Support entirely to a third party.

The immediate advantage of this model is the reduced start-up costs, but more significant is the skills needed for ongoing maintenance and support, a crucial component that is often overlooked when preparing the business case and embarking on the initial pilot.

Another way to look at RaaS is as a fully managed RPA service. Pricing is flexible to meet client needs and can range from a price per minute, to a profit-sharing arrangement, or even a more traditional flat rate model.

Cloud computing and RPA have converged, providing new alternatives to deliver your RPA program.

Advances in operating models is just one topic on our Business Side of RPA online training running this month. May is a busy month for us with technical training, online and classroom, running for all three of main product areas: UiPathAutomation Anywhereand Blue PrismCheck out our home page for details.

-Rob King, The RPA Academy

Low-Code: Collaborator or Challenger for the RPA Crown?

Low-Code: Collaborator or Challenger for the RPA Crown?

Last week was the Largest ever low-code conference ever globally, hosted by Mendix in Rotterdam, it boasted around 5000 visitors across 2 days.  So what is low-code, what has it got to do with RPA, and should I care?

Low-code is an approach to development that uses visual modelling and configuration instead of traditional programming to create applications.  Many RPA tools are referred to as low-code, as are many of the ecosystem products such as Appian or TrustPortal because they follow this same principle.

Reinforcing the similarities even further, the target users for these products are often the business and not IT.  Mendix refers to this audience as Citizen Developers, and similarly to RPA benefit from business experience above a technical background.  

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The Low-Code and RPA markets are similarly buoyant with predictions that low-code alone will reach $21 Billion market size within the next 3 years.  It seems surprising that there hasn't been more recognition of these similarities sooner.

Low-code and RPA also provide high levels of integration between separate applications so you can understand at first why there may be an assumption that they do the same thing.  But, the devil is in the detail and it is at this point Low-Code Application Development Platforms (to use the full title) and Robotic Process Automation diverge and become powerful in their chosen areas of operation.

Low-Code delivers fully developed applications across a variety of platforms, include the ability to build entire databases, and have strong change management, version control and application deployment capabilities as a core component.  Building entirely new applications at 10-times the speed of traditional programming tools is the wheel-house of low-code development.

In contrast, RPA mimics human interactions to provide a digital-human layer (rather than application layer), is focused predominantly on windows and browser-based applications, uses the data only from underlying applications, and orchestrates the actions of your team of digital workers.

While the development approach and target audience have many similarities, there are many benefits from having both low-code and RPA at your disposal to deliver a comprehensive programme of digital transformation.  Utilizing each tool for its own strength will open up new opportunities to develop integrated solutions.

The RPA Academy is here to keep you informed in the rapidly developing ecosystem.  We are continuing to develop new insights and opportunities to further your knowledge.  Contact our team to learn more, check out our newly updated blogs and videos sections on the website or browse our catalogue of training options.

Rob 

RPA Is Dead

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How timely. 

Easter. A resurrection.

Done at a 21st century speed.

Who needs to wait 3 days nowadays?

Yesterday RPA was dead.

Today it is back to life.

I knew something was up when I woke to emails and LinkedIn messages saying, “Help! I am an RPA developer. I have been doing this for 2 years. Is RPA really dead? What does this mean for my career?” 

Obviously HFS sends out its newsletters at different times, according to your timezone. So by the time I was online in NY, most of the RPA world had seen this. 

But let’s be super, super clear. 

RPA is not dead. HFS did not say HFS is dead. They just worried a load of people.  And triggered lots of questions. Ultimately for the better. 

Dig deeper into the article.

It is 100% what we’ve been preaching for several years. RPA is not a standalone “thing”. It is one of many tools an organisation has at its disposal. It fits very nicely with Lean Six Sigma. It works really well alongside BPM. It helps you leverage your OCR investment. It facilitates some AI opportunities. And so on.

11/10 for this point alone. Successful organisations have, “a broad and ongoing change management program to enable the shift to a hybrid workforce”.

And 10/10 for calling out the Analytics opportunity. I’ve always believed that the data that RPA creates will be the defence mechanism that any old-economy business can use to beat off any new, legacy-system-free, competitor.

And if you want proof that RPA is not dead, have a look at the life going on here.

A Change of Pace

The last three weeks newsletters have been packed to the brim with news from several conferences, large and small, with groundbreaking news on current and future developments in RPA, AI and the growing inter-connected ecosystem of solutions.

This week is a change of pace as I write this from an apartment balcony in Cyprus overlooking the blue Mediterranean Sea and reflect on this weeks newsletter.  It's a location that provides a welcome reminder that it is the customer interactions, the level of  service, the banter and the entertainment that will remain untouched by automation, even if it were possible to do so.

Looking back over the last few weeks it's been great to see the technology roadmaps of all vendors advancing, but on reflection this opens up two new challenges.  First, the business skills needed to develop and grow an automation program are still scarce; Second, the RPA ecosystem is growing at such a pace that it's difficult to keep up.

We've already started to develop the business skills: check out our Executive Briefing webinar and the new live-online Business Side of RPA course, which will help you to cut through the jargon and deliver the insight needed to start, scale an sustain a successful automation program.

Meanwhile the ecosystem is already huge, and all vendors are announcing an ever-growing list of technology partners.  Here at the RPA Academy we're seeking ways to help you all navigate these new opportunities, expand our technical training to include these topics and build a program of webinars to help raise awareness.  To whet your appetite, here are a few areas we'll be exploring in the coming months:

  1. Process Mining and Discovery

  2. Document Identification and Classification

  3. Natural Language Processing

  4. Dealing with Unstructured Data

  5. Computer Vision

  6. Orchestrating the Human and Digital Workforce


You'll be pleased to hear that normal service will be resumed next week as I'll be investigating whether RPA and low-code development platforms are competitors or collaborators!  For now though, I'm off to enjoy the sun and a bottle of local brew.  

Rob King

When you need some information, what do you do?

When you need some information, what do you do? For most people, the answer to this question is “Google it,” our new fountain of wisdom for everything from David Bowie trivia to the meaning of life.

There are 1.15 billion answers to the meaning of life, I’m glad we’ve sorted that one out.

When google works, it works great, and it should always be our first port of call, but when it doesn’t work, it includes lots of superfluous information that is not needed.

This is a signal to noise ratio: it’s difficult to hear the valuable signal because of the level of noise. This problem translates directly into our own RPA world, where there is a mountain of materials, but the quality varies greatly. At the RPA Academy, we curate well-researched knowledge to share with our members on the entire RPA ecosystem.

One size never fits all, and our flexible ‘learning path’ approach allows you to target the knowledge needed at the point of need for you and your team. The RPA Academy team have launched an innovative new brand called The Beacons, providing ongoing training for all your team. Our online subscription service starts from just $349 per month, contact our team to learn more.

The World of Connected RPA

Blue Prism World arrived in London last week and it was big! Really BIG! Claiming almost 3000 attendees at its peak, the two-day conference was undoubtedly the largest RPA event Europe has hosted so far.
The morning of day 1 focused on partners, providing advance information and a partner-only awards ceremony. The theme of connected-RPA is just another way of describing the growing importance of the partner ecosystem providing tailored capabilities not included in the core platform. Here are some of the highlights from across the two days:

The digital exchange (dx) which provides an open library of shared modules (or skills) features prominently at the centre of the growing community with plans to open it up app-store like in order for developers to sell their work.  

A new browser-based interface really gave the whole thing a new polish, and an updated architecture which now facilitates a centralized view of multiple environments is a welcome step for global operations.  

BP Decipher was announced, providing a new ML engine to convert unstructured data into structured, an overdue addition to the portfolio that disappointingly concluded with the reality that the product was still in development and an invitation to join the invoice processing trial would be coming soon.

A new Success Accelerator program has been soft-launched to help customers overcome the hurdles in scaling up and share good practices. This is a great step, but reading between the lines, it’s also a step to make sure customers stay in the fold and don’t stray to competitors. The market is getting tough and looking after existing customers is a positive step.

The announcement of a cloud-based trial version was a bit of a let down with many in the audience looking for a simpler set up for customers interested in dabbling for themselves that was more similar to community editions provided by other vendors. It's not entirely a surprise that they didn't go quite that far but we can dream.

In the end, it all comes back to the partners and the ecosystem, connected-RPA linked together almost every presentation, and it’s clear the future developments are going to come from the combination of core RPA and partner capabilities.

If you’re interested in learning more about the ecosystem look out for upcoming webinars as we introduce ecosystem training into our core curriculum. The RPA Academy is an accredited Blue Prism Training Partner; we continue to provide flexible, tailored and innovative approaches to learning. Check out The Beacons, for cost-effective training when you need it or contact the team to tailor an on-site course to your specific needs.

As Blue Prism would say: "Automate Together, Automate Better, Automate More"

4 Blue Prism Development Best Practices

1. Single Launch and Login Page

It is a common practice to create a single Launch and Login page.

However, these should be 2 different pages.

This gives us flexibility to recover when the Launch of an application fails.

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We generally retry Launch failures and never retry Login failures since a bot will never mistype the

credential unless it has wrong ones saved.

2. Not using Attach Action

Beginners tend to ignore the use of attach actions. One needs to call attach pages across the object

pages as soon as the start stage to help seamless switching between multiple applications running at the same time.

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3. Hard Coding timeouts

Newbies tend to hard code timeout stages of wait.

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Instead you need to use global data items which help you change the timeouts easily. Changing the

time outs on a single page would affect rest of the pages!!!

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Building all the logic on main page

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Break logic into multiple pages which help everyone one the team to understand the code and fix bugs in case of your unavailability.

4. Building huge objects

People tend to build huge objects. However, there are a lot of benefits when you break object into

smaller ones.

4.1 Multiple developers can work simultaneously.

4.2 Fewer items would break when changes are made.

4.3 Consumption of lower memory.

Good Naming convention: APP NAME + SCREEN NAME

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Training is least likely to help those most in need

The World Economic Forum emphasizes that it is crucial for employers to support their current workforces by training in order to address the skills gap.

Employers indicate that they are set to prioritize and focus their reskilling and upskilling efforts on employees currently performing high-value roles as a way of strengthening their enterprise’s strategic capacity, stating they intend to target employees in key roles and in frontline roles which will be using relevant new technologies.

Furthermore, 41% of employers are set to focus their reskilling provision on high-performing employees while a much smaller proportion of 33% stated that they would prioritize at-risk employees in roles expected to be most In other words, those most in need of reskilling and upskilling are least likely to receive such training.

See The Work Economic Forum: The Future of Jobs (http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs_2018.pdf) for more information.

Your best employees are made, not found

The World Economic Forum emphasizes that it is crucial for employers to support their current workforces through training in order to address the skills gap. Within the next five years, it is expected that over 50% of employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling.

Meeting this demand through traditional recruitment methods is simply impossible, there are insufficient skills on the market to tap-into in the first place. Developing your existing talent is the only option to keep up to date and achieve your business goals.

This will require some bold steps and new ideas.