AI

It's a Kinda Magic

Gartners' Magic Quadrant

Last week Gartner released their Magic Quadrant for RPA and those vendors happy with the findings went crazy to celebrate the recognition of their success. While others quietly shuffled it under the carpet, hoping no one would notice.

If you'd like to read the full report it can be downloaded from Blue Prism on this link. The Magic Quadrant is your typical four-box grid, the x-axis tracking 'completeness of vision' and the y-axis 'ability to execute.' It's the y-axis that really sorts the wheat from the chaff, capabilities are no good if they are difficult to deliver!

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The report pulls no punches and no one really escaped completely free of some criticism, but as you fall lower down the y-axis, there were some harsh words and a sincere reality-check delivered. Credit to the Authors Derek Miers, Marc Kerremans, Saikat Ray and Cathy Tornbohm for not watering down their output. Anyone wanting to learn more about the RPA market should find a quiet hour and digest this report now.

The leaders - UiPath, Blue Prism and Automation Anywhere - will probably come as no surprise to anyone. I'm pleased to see EdgeVeve and NICE sitting in the Challengers quadrant, worthy recognition in both cases for organisations that are sometimes overlooked by the hype around the big-3, despite a strong pedigree in this market. Personally, I was surprised to not see Pegasystems in this quadrant, a solution that seemed to have more in common with the Challengers than the Visionaries.

Visionaries is perhaps the most oddly named quadrant. It doesn't quite conjure the right impression of the vendors in this section; a complete vision but lacking in the ability to execute is too much theory and not enough practice in my mind.

Finally, we have the Niche Players, and this is a real mixed bag of results. Congratulations to Kofax, Servicetrace and Softomotive; they're still in the game and need to keep pushing forward. For the others, the battle is on, and there will be winners and losers!

With some visionary thinking of our own, The RPA Academy is a training partner with all of the Gartner RPA Leaders! Starting this week we have a new curriculum of Blue Prism Live Online training beginning so now is a good time to jump in for just $349 and begin your RPA journey.

Best,

Rob King

The RPA Academy



Low Code or RPA? (again)

Regular readers of my weekly newsletter will recognise that this is a topic I've discussed before. On our first outing, I concluded that both RPA and Low Code had its own place in a complementary way: Low-Code: Collaborator or Challenger for the RPA Crown?

Last week, I was speaking at a UK Mendix Event (Mendix on Tour) on the topic of Delivering Results with the AI Ecosystem. I enjoy discussing both principles and practice, and on this occasion, I was fortunate enough to share the stage with Simon Black, Mendix Guru, Evangelist and a kid in a candy shop when it comes to the opportunities afforded by the AI ecosystem. While I explained the principles, Simon demonstrated the practice live for everyone to see for themselves.

We both realised that there is still a lot of confusion about the different roles RPA and Low Code have to play, questions at the end focused more on this than on the opportunity provided by AI! As I have concluded before, they are different but complementary, but today I have a helpful summary of those differences and when you might select one over the other:

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Coincidentally, analysts Horses for Sources recently cited research which identified that the most significant barrier to change is an insufficient understanding of disruptive changes (blog link here). As we saw during Mendix on Tour, Businesses are simply unaware of the art of the possible. It's difficult to advance when there is a lack of education on the opportunities that technology can provide.

On this theme, we are just one week away from our webinar with Richard Hill and Gina Gray from Celaton; an Intelligent Process Automation solution that provides a one-stop shop for combining RPA and machine learning capabilities. Sign Up for the Webinar on 16th July here.

For anyone looking to advance their Blue Prism Skills, our next online instructor-led training begins on 16th July, sign up here for just $349. For corporate arrangements, contact be@therpaacademy.com for details.


Thanks Everyone.

Rob

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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"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

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 Skills Gap Threatens Progress

According to a survey by PwC, 77% of CEO’s see the availability of key skills as the biggest threat to their business.

Furthermore, 80% of business and IT Executives expect skills and knowledge in 10 years to have little resemblance to their organizations today; there is an urgent need to implement a continuous learning model into today’s operations simply to survive.

Successful enterprises of the future will become learning businesses, where lifelong learning is becoming part of the culture and the natural way of working within the organization.

The Rate of change continues to accelerate, keeping pace with the change requires a new model where knowledge is available at the point of demand and the point of need. A knowledge as a service model which delivers the company needs.

Do you agree that the US should consider taxing robots who replace human workers?

I do not.

The complexity of how such a tax may be calculated fairly in the first place is incomprehensible. Never minding the fact that the definition of ‘robot’ is unclear.

Also, productivity growth is in decline [1] so slowing the progress through taxation could have even greater negative economic impact, rather than the reverse perhaps implied by the question.

Governments have to function, true, but a simpler manner of taxation is needed than the blunt instrument of ‘robots’ and this gets even more complex if you add AI into your question

Rob King (VP Product, UK Country Director at The RPA Academy)

https://www.quora.com/Do-you-agree-that-the-US-should-consider-taxing-robots-who-replace-human-workers