robotic process automation

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 

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

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"

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

Does Learning Path = Earning Path?

Learning Path

We’ve been exploring "Learning Paths" over the last few months.

It gets pretty complicated. 

Just look at the Blue Prism paths we’ve been sketching out.

This is simplistic.

Learning Paths

It ignores the real barriers individuals face.

Everyone has different needs, pressures, plans, objectives, and visions.

All at different times. With everyone moving at different speeds.

The logic is very simple: “Have More Knowledge = Drive More Value = Get Paid More”.

It will happen, either with your current employer or your next employer.

If you can tick the following boxes, you’re going to rocket:

  1. Know what can be done

  2. Know how to do it (or get it done)

  3. Know how to solve or get problems solved

But how do you access that knowledge?

Just within the RPA zone, the platforms are evolving, and Ecosystems are growing up fast. 

The potentials are becoming almost unlimited.

Our Unlimited Live Online Learning model is designed to support you across your learning path (and earning path). You’ll learn what can be done, how to do it, and how to get help when you need it.

Don't even look at these jobs. RPA Job Ads That Will Kill Your Reputation

Some words of advice - for Developers, COE leads, and Recruiters.

Most companies don’t really have a grasp on the skills they need to implement RPA. 

As a result you’ll see recruiters with long wish-lists in their postings. 

This is only creating the RPA equivalent of the duck-billed-platypus.

You’ll see people post lists like this:

  • 3+ years of Blue Prism, Automation Anywhere, UiPath or Workfusion [Just a weird combination as a starting point]

  • 10+ years of .NET, VB, C++ or similar [Ok - not that bad]

  • Experience establishing a Center of Excellence [are they looking for a technical developer or a consultant]

  • Able to analyze and prioritize processes for automation [ok, now we’re looking for a business analyst]

  • Can work with the process owner to redesign processes for automation [Arg - now you’ve got to have Lean Six Sigma skills]

  • Experience of the PharmafinancialinsurancebankingdefenseBPOITOandtherest sector is a plus [Hmmm!]

  • Available to start immediately [Like I’ve got all of the above skills and am just waiting around until this job vacancy popped up]

  • $5 an hour [Great - finally I can afford to eat]

  • Corp to Corp or W-2 considered. GC holder or US citizen [Darn - I ticked all the boxes until this. I curse my parents for letting me be born in Scotland and not migrating before I was 18.]

Your options are:

  • Laugh and move to the next opportunity

  • Apply and try to educate the recruiter along the way that no one has this combination of skills

  • Recognize that the recruiter doesn’t have a clue, so has just parroted a fantasy list from their client [but it is their fault - recruiters should advise their clients]

  • Apply knowing that you are sub-superhero and tick 2 of the boxes

  • Apply, get the job (yay!), and then suffer as you’ve obviously bluffed about your superhero capabilities.

Let’s just help the market. 

That’s what we spend much of our time doing.

We are not HR folk, but we are always talking about the HR issues - change management, resource/skills planning, job descriptions, succession planning, reward structures etc. 

While much of our work is around technical training on Blue Prism, Automation Anywhere and UiPath - online and onsite around the globe - RPA success requires people with the right skills at the right time.

Without that, none of this is going to work.