Robotics Process Automation vendor Automation Anywhere looks to move beyond RPA

Automation Anywhere’s announcements this week include a new partnership with Toptal, which provides human talent, and which will see the companies add Digital Workers to that talent pool. It’s part of a plan to take RPA beyond IT and embed it more broadly and deeply in business processes.

NEW YORK CITY – At their Imagine event here this week, Robotic Process Automation [RPA] market leader Automation Anywhere continued its drive to move beyond  RPA – to take automation processes beyond simply the realm of IT and drive it deeper into the business realm. Part of this process involves a new strategic alliance with Toptal, which provides elite human talent to employers. Through it, the two companies will develop and eventually deliver Digital Workers for clients.

“This relationship that we are announcing with Toptal is the first step in changing the conversation beyond RPA,” Mancini said. “Toptal’s business is providing highly-skilled human workers to employers – the top three per cent of the market in terms of skill. You call them up, and get someone in a couple of days. This alliance will have them use our digital workers, and expose them to their customers.”

That, Mancini says, changes the conversation from simply providing bots to a much broader conception of workforce definition and management

“They see us as very complementary to their business,” he said. “We believe that we need to start expanding the conversation around how companies think about their workforce. This gets customers to think about workforce in terms of beyond human, to the digital workforce.”

This also expands the conversation beyond RPA simply being a part of IT, where Mancini said it has had only limited success in bringing about real digital transformation.

“RPA as a whole has been focused on IT, and in 20 years, we have only automated 20 per cent of business processes doing it that way,” Mancini noted. “I don’t think that’s the way to get successful digital transformation.

“In the long run, we are in the digital labour market,” he added. “We aren’t in the RPA business. “Solving problems and getting things done in the future will involve a combination of humans and bots.”

Mancini said that the alliance will also help Automation Anywhere build better digital workers.

“They understand skills and can help create digital workers,” he stated. Toptal will be assisted here through access to the Community Edition of the Automation Anywhere RPA software, as well as training programs and certifications from Automation Anywhere University.

In January, Automation Anywhere announced the first component of their digital worker strategy, through which users can download Digital Workers from the Automation Anywhere Bot Store and customize them to fit their unique business processes. These Digital Workers are digital personas that combine task-oriented, cognitive and analytical abilities to automate repetitive activities.

“That introduced the basic ability to hire a digital worker and leverage those skills,” Mancini said. “What we announced at this event was the ability in the upcoming enhancement of our platform release, which is in beta today, to address three separate personas of users – business users, developers and IT users.”

The Toptal partnership is a further step in what will be – over the medium term and longer – a fundamental shift in strategy around digital workers.

“The biggest change over the next year – we are talking medium term, not short term – is that we are going to start shifting into the digital worker concept,” said Prince Kohli, Automation Anywhere’s CTO. “We find that our customers and the market have an intuitive understanding of what that is – digital workers replacing human process workers, or more commonly, the process role within the multiple things that a human worker has to do. The digital worker who can do 100 per cent of those process roles is how the paradigm will shift.”

Kohli said that the Automation Anywhere isn’t quite there today.

“To do this completely, AI really has to be fully integrated into our platform, so that you have AI embedded everywhere,” he asserted. “It’s the direction that companies like Uber and Google are going as well. In our case, the ability for AI is to replicate a lot of stuff that already exists. So the risk and the challenge is low. It’s not like building an autonomous car. We aren’t trying to replace 100 per cent of process work. But there is 80-90 per cent where it makes sense to do that from a cost and moral perspective.”

Other partnership announcements which extended existing relationships were also made at the event.

“We already had a significant relationship with Oracle, but more is now being done,” Mancini said. The new collaboration will advance adoption of the company’s AI-driven software bots inside the Oracle Integration Cloud. An Automation Anywhere enterprise RPA platform connector for Oracle Integration Cloud will now be available.

“This is the first time our bots have been available in the Oracle cloud,” Mancini added.

Automation Anywhere has already been available in the IBM cloud, but the two companies announced a further extension of their relationship. It will see deeper integrations between the Automation Anywhere platform and the IBM Automation Platform for Digital Business, to automate more types of work.

“Increasingly, it’s not who sells the applications who is important, but who brings them together,” Kohli stated. “Customers want apps to talk to each other and work across apps to get processes done. Our partnership with IBM has been expanded because customers are asking for this.”

All of this means much greater acceleration of bot adoption and expansion into more processes and more digital personas.

“The ecosystem is expanding to drive more value for customers, to help them accelerate their adoption of automation,” Mancini stated. “While in the past, we have focused most heavily on the business user, we are now investing more heavily in enabling the developer and the IT user to leverage automation, as well as the business user. Those personas are more clearly defined now.”

This also expands opportunities for business partners by making the customer relationship around bots and automated processes more enduring and less transactional.

“It provides a new opportunity for partners to rethink how to leverage insights,” Mancini indicated. “It changes the relationship beyond simply selling and move on. Partners estimate that the value of a digital worker is between $8,000 and $15,000 each year. When you can provide that every year, the math is pretty cozy.”

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