A new batch of ominous warnings about job-killing robots just arrived from the usual suspects, very clever, credentialed, accomplished people mingling at a glamourous watering-hole: in this case, the Milken Institute's Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California.These warnings tend to follow a predictable script: sufficiently urgent to get attention, but fuzzy enough to stop short of alarming.Warnings about the impact of robotics on people s jobs almost always have a temporizing quality: for example, at this conference robots are capable of taking over low-skill document management or Wall Street spreadsheet jockeys specialized jobs, yet aren t at the point of actually eliminating broad job categories.It is old school, beginning as a one-way transfer of data from computer green screens via the terminal s memory.It s also often an interface of last resort for an old school problem, the challenges organizations face in linking legacy systems with new applications, including lack of legacy documentation, source code and lost skillsets.This use is what many people are referring to when they speak about swivel-chair automation.Related Article: Buying In the Cloud: How Cloud Technology is Revolutionizing the Retail IndustryRPA PerceptionBut moving to web-scraping technology still left RPA with two major limitations, both of which reinforced the perception this robotic technology could only play a limited role, with limited scope, in business process automation.Limited Role in Process AutomationWhile web-scraping is highly effective, it customarily takes place at the task level while employees typically operate at both the task and activity level.The answer would appear to be yes; according to the Everest Group, 78 percent of GICs have either implemented RPA or are actively planning pilots.Related Article: When Tech Meets Pets: How Technology Is Serving Man's Best FriendWhat About AI & Cognitive, etc.?But what of the exotic technologies so many thought leaders are waiting for: AI, cognitive, machine learning?The answer is that they re important and will broaden RPA s footprint in ways that are hard to fully envision.
Imagine this scenario: you re the CIO of a regional health insurance company determined to increase claims processing performance and lower costs.You ve been looking into a business process management software BPMS solution but business stakeholders have begun talking about using a technology called robotic process automation RPA .The question you re asking yourself is, Are these two automation technologies essentially the same?If they re not, which one is the best choice for us?BPMSAs a CIO with a background in the delivery of various IT projects, you re familiar with BPMS as automation technology linked to Business Process Management BPM methodology and practices.In your experience, BPMS is the second step in a two-step approach.First, BPM practitioners tackled an inefficient process or processes by documenting and evaluating the current state; establishing key process performance indicators KPI and defining metrics and goals; then re-engineering processes to deliver an optimized, future state performance.Second, a BPMS project implemented a software application suite which supported the BPM optimization work with process automation and monitoring capabilities.But RPA is unfamiliar territory.Is it just a different flavor of BPMS, or could it offer new ways to tackle the business s goals of better performance with lower costs?To get some answers, you asked one of your senior reports to meet with the business people talking up RPA; understand their thinking, then put together a realistic assessment of the technology.After reading his report, you finally had some answers for your questions.Related Article: 10 Must-Read Technology Blogs to Keep You In the KnowRPAYou learned RPA is the antithesis of automation technology solutions such as ERP or BPMS in several significant ways:No complicated systems integration: since RPA typically automates by mimicking human actions at the user interface UI level, this automation solution doesn t intrude upon the underlying systems themselves.No Database Intrusion: by engaging data on the presentation layer exactly as the humans it replaces have been doing.RPA automation avoids raising any data security issues or concerns.
Many readers may be familiar with the term robotic process automation RPA , a technology whose software robots are changing the corporate workplace by mimicking employee task activities across internal and web-based applications.For those just getting acquainted with this new type of automation, key points to keep in mind include:Speed: Robots complete tasks far faster than their human predecessor;Productivity: robots are free of human error and work 24/7;Scalability, robots can be quickly ramped up or down to match work fluctuations;Compliance, robots generate full audit trails.Perhaps most significantly, software robots are implemented on the presentation layer where human actions reside so underlying applications and IT infrastructure are untouched.Therefore, deployments are faster, far less expensive and much less risky than typical IT automation projects.But what s often overlooked is how the overhang of legacy systems hobbles ERP effectiveness.With age measured in decades and characterized by outdated programming languages, architecture and hardware, legacy systems are also generally unsupported by contemporary ERP software.But, despite these serious deficiencies, it s common to see large corporations depend upon them to play important operational roles.These roles persist because this old software either delivers critical functionality that business users have tweaked over the years, or it brings that functionality from mergers or acquisitions.It doesn t take long for aggressive companies to wind up with dozens of incompatible, poorly documented, legacy systems from acquired or merged competitors.They re rarely integrated with ERP systems and they re not scheduled for replacement because either possibility would be too expensive, time-consuming and risky for the company.When legacy functionality lacks ERP integration, the company suffers from incomplete end-to-end process automation.
Fuelled by the well-publicised examples of smart systems winning gameshows and trouncing a world-champion in the notoriously complex game of Go, many businesses are considering the potential of automation.This question shouldn't be drawn too broadly, and should focus on individual aspects of a person's role rather than their job in its entirety."The right level is that of individual activities, because there are very few entire roles where all of one's activities are likely to be automated at the same time," said Michael Chui, partner at McKinsey Global Institute.According to Chui, these type of activities can typically be found in physical work taking place in a stable and predictable environment, such as work on an assembly line, back-office tasks such as collecting and processing data, as well as some aspects of data analysis.Salary and skill level shouldn't necessarily be a guide when identifying automatable activities, as these type of tasks are carried out by both low-paid, low-skilled workers and by high earners who've undergone years of training, he said.A number of BPO providers, such as Capgemini and Wipro, are also moving into the emerging field of Robotic Process Automation RPO .
The acquisition will add Genfour’s robotic process automation expertise to Accenture.Accenture has acquired UK-based Genfour, an automation services provider, for an undisclosed amount.Genfour offers assessment, implementation and management of automation solutions for its corporate clientele that help in transforming and re-engineering business processes.The solutions offered by Genfour to its clients include data-driven insights which help in making informed business decisions and can in turn offer quality services to their customers.Genfour also offers a fully managed, digital workforce which includes robotic process automation (RPA), cognitive technologies and desktop automation.According to Genfour, its process starts by evaluating the potential for an organisation and determines which processes can be automated.
UiPath, a robotic process automation (RPA) startup that’s setting out to help companies automate repetitive tasks, has raised $30 million in a Series A round of funding led by Accel, with participation from existing investors, including Earlybird Venture Capital, Credo Ventures, and Seedcamp.Founded out of Romania in 2012, though now officially based in the U.S., UiPath touts its core raison d’être as bringing automation to the “intelligent enterprise.” It specializes in building what it calls “intelligent software robots” that help businesses complete laborious and repetitive processes through computer vision technology and rule-based processes.UiPath’s RPA smarts manipulate existing software, including customer relationship management (CRM) tools and enterprise resource planning (ERP) apps, to emulate a specific task typically carried out by a human, be it in HR, accounting, or finance, working at the user interface (UI) level rather than beneath the UI.So these software robots are essentially trained to “look” at the interface, understand what’s going on, and interact with it in a fashion similar to the way a human would.Allowing machines to carry out such processes on behalf of humans will, according to UiPath, significantly improve “productivity, accuracy, and compliance,” thus enabling employees to “focus on more creative and strategic work.” Needless to say, RPA-powered software robots can operate 24/7, and at a fraction of the cost of their human equivalents.However, there is surely no guarantee that employees who were once hired specifically to carry out these “repetitive” processes will be suitable for the more “creative and strategic” roles companies may offer.But that is seemingly neither here nor there.With $30 million now in its coffers, the company plans to double down on its global hiring and product development as it looks to maintain a “leading position in the robotic process automation market,” according to a company statement.“This investment will allow us to introduce the benefits of intelligent RPA to even more businesses around the world and remain at the forefront of a rapidly advancing industry,” noted Daniel Dines, CEO and founder of UiPath.“We are making work more inspiring and effective for the people that drive our businesses and economies forward, and the potential that remains untapped for organizations is what makes this such an exciting market to work in.”If this all sounds like the robots are coming to steal our jobs, well, there’s perhaps more than a grain of truth to that.As part of the “fourth industrial revolution,” millions of jobs are expected to be lost to automation, according to a recent World Economic Forum report.The net loss could be as many as five million jobs by 2020, with fields such as manufacturing and production expected to be heavily affected, and another report indicating that more than 100,000 legal jobs will be automated over the next two decades.UiPath already claims a number of notable enterprise clients, including Lufthansa, Generali, Telenor, and Dong Energy, and has offices in the U.S., Romania, U.K., India, Singapore, and Japan.
The world is awash with bots these days — applications the run either partly or entirely using natural language processing, machine learning, computer vision and other artificial intelligence technologies to help consumers ask and answer questions, buy things and get other stuff done.In the enterprise equivalent, a company that is building something akin to this for large companies and their back-office functions has raised a sizeable round of funding.UiPath, a startup out of Romania that builds apps for businesses to automate repetitive functions like processing insurance claims, or going through employee onboarding, has raised $30 million in a Series A round of funding led by Accel.This $30 million also includes a $1.6 million seed round it raised last year from Earlybird, Credo Ventures and Seedcamp.The money will be used to add more sales staff and build out the product more to meet existing demand.“This investment will allow us to introduce the benefits of intelligent RPA [the abbreviation for robotic process automation] to even more businesses around the world and remain at the forefront of a rapidly-advancing industry,” said Daniel Dines, CEO and founder of UiPath.
p In the same way that R2D2, the faithful droid from the Star Wars movie franchise, travels the far reaches of the galaxy righting wrongs, the software algorithms that guide Robotic Process Automation (RPA) travel the constellations of data collected by companies, resolving anomalies.Agile Finance Revealed: The New Operating Model for Modern Finance, a recent study by Oracle and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), predicts that RPA and the related technologies of machine learning and adaptive intelligence will become increasingly important in finance automation as they help finance professionals free up their time for more strategic pursuits.RPA allows employees to configure software “bots” that interact with applications and perform high-volume, repetitive tasks such as account reconciliationMachine learning gives computers the ability to understand without being explicitly programmed and to optimize business processes such as internal audit and fraud detection, based on patterns and historical trendsAdaptive intelligence, which combines the automated analysis of big data with human knowledge, helps financiers compare data-rich information, like sales of many online competitorsOracle Vice President Loren Mahon explains that because so many tasks in finance are repetitive in nature, they are prone to human error.
p Euan Cameron assumes the newly created role to push the adoption of automation technologiesIn response to the continued rise of artificial intelligence (AI), professional services firm PwC has appointed its first AI leader.PwC partner Euan Cameron will fill the new role of UK Artificial Intelligence leader, where he will oversee the the firm’s and clients use of emerging automation technology.“This year we expect to see more and more artificial intelligence initiatives move from theory to practice.We are exploring a wide range of opportunities to deploy this technology internally, but also to help our clients with many of their critical business issues.Different industries are adopting Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and AI at varying rates but with the field developing so rapidly, those who wait could miss out on the myriad positive opportunities it will bring,” said Cameron.
A new collaboration brings together two companies ranked as leaders in the field of business process management and improvement.IBM and Automation Anywhere are to integrate the two companies’ technologies in order to help businesses improve their processes, with the use of bots.Automation Anywhere uses its Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform to create specific software robots that handle repetitive tasks.The bot platform will be integrated with software from IBM, such as the IBM Business Process Manager, to provide a more broad approach to automation.Businesses that manage certain processes, such as routine and data-intensive tasks, through IBM software will be able to create bots to streamline those tasks with Automation Anywhere’s RPA platform.The joint venture will be available to businesses running their systems on-site or through the IBM cloud.
Are you concerned or encouraged by the onset of technologies that provide automation?Technologies including machine learning and robotic process automation are set to eliminate up to 30 percent of human bank jobs, according to a new report.New alternatives to human workers are becoming desirable within the financial services, as the technology for automation is becoming more affordable.Roles under threat typically involve a degree of manual work, the kind that is often involved in managing databases and libraries, tasks that can be handled easily by the algorithms within machine learning.This statistic has come from a new McKinsey & Company report, says Bloomberg, who were told by Jared Moon, a co-writer of the report, that the change will “require people to use new skill sets, taking away manual work but allowing more around analytics, transformation and change.”
Rigid new global initiatives to increase transparency of business data are giving rise to more advanced professional tax services, which employ innovative tools that include cloud computing, financial technology and artificial intelligence.“Professional services firms of all disciplines are expecting their workforces to change, which will see many jobs displaced and new roles created for software programmers, data analysts and computer scientists,” Paul Haswell, a partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons, told the South China Morning Post.“Existing providers who fail to embrace this technology driven future are doomed to obsolescence.”EY, one of the world’s four largest professional services networks, on Monday announced the creation of a dedicated group of more than 1,000 professionals from its member-firms across the globe for its new tax technology and transformation practise.Albert Lee, digital tax leader at EY Asia-Pacific, pointed out that the pace of change in tax legislation and the accelerated use of technology by governments for automating compliance and filing processes, are disrupting traditional tax preparations.EY’s new practise will include a custom tax technology application development, a post mergers and acquisitions tax function, robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and tax analytics and reporting services.
Gareth Hole at NICE looks answers that question in this exclusive op-ed for CBR.Robotic Process Automation is a huge trend with businesses across the world.By combining artificial intelligence with other technologies, organisations are automating routine, repetitive businesses processes to improve efficiency and drive better results.According to the National Association of Software and Services Companies, RPA can already reduce operations costs as much as 65 per cent, with ROI within as little as half a year.Every business has processes that can be automated from start to finish by an unattended robot, working without intervention, 24/7, without errors, collecting and executing tasks from a queue.Attended desktop automation allows a dedicated, smart desktop robot to help a human with certain tasks.
Yet these innovative solutions are only as useful as the data they can access.Join this VB Live event to learn how predictive analytics and AI can deliver valuable insights and power more personalized user experiences.“AI and machine learning are absolutely going to alter the landscape for fintech, for big tech, for China tech, as well as for your bank,” says Don Lisle, VP head of FinTech at Capgemini America.“And the question is how you go about that journey.”AI is the future of every industry, Lisle says, pointing out the billions of dollars that companies like Amazon, Apple, and Facebook are spending on researching, acquiring AI startups, and developing cognitive computing resources — and financial institutions need to keep up.“I’m amazed how many banks I talk to that understand the importance of AI and machine learning, but don’t have a well thought-out strategy beyond a chatbot, or robotic process automation,” Lisle says.
New technologies and strategies are released at what feels like the speed of light.To help you wrap your arms around this emerging technology, I put together a high-level overview of the RPA landscape.RPA is the use of machines to perform tasks with high precision at rapid intervals.A distinct aspect of virtual robots is that their actions are performed based on the end user perspective.This gives additional visibility into the viability of a software or process that a system monitoring tool would not address.Usually, these transactions are performed repetitively, and at high volumes, since the virtual robots are able to run 24/7.
However, the term “co-bots” has also been around for a while, and because of the interesting conversations lately about robots taking over human jobs, it seems to be a worthwhile topic to bring up here.The co-bot fetches an entire shelf of goods (that weigh more than what a person could lift) and brings them to a human packer.With more recent discussions around robots and AI, you might have seen several articles, or at least headlines, about robots replacing people in their jobs.Based on an Amazon employee’s comments, they appreciate the robot doing the more labor-intensive work, enabling the human worker to do more value added tasks.This would also be the case in virtual situations, such as robotic process automation (RPA) and in industrial scenarios.Working together helps the human worker accomplish their task more efficiently.
At a recent robotic focused event in the City of London attendees were asked the same question the World Economic Forum reported on in 2016: yes or no, did your job exist when you were in primary school?Amongst a base of change management professionals, robotic process automation experts and digital service centre of excellence delivery managers, the 67% ‘no’ response was hardly a surprise – surely every few decades jobs will evolve so much that roughly 2/3 of us will not be on a career path set in stone starting in infant school.In today’s ‘age of automation,’ this type of headline is often interpreted in a leading/bleeding way, firmly associated with notions of robots replacing humans in every profession except those very few where substituting human empathy with artificial intelligence just won’t do.Whether it’s Mark Carney or the BBC prophesising the end of the human workforce, we seem to have accepted these headlines at dismal face value rather than looking to a future where automation may give rise to a new generation of careers.If we can, even reluctantly, accept that the glass may just be half full, there’s plenty of room for optimism as well as scope for the creation of a plethora of new jobs that could rather delightfully emerge over the next 15 years.So instead of lamenting the fact that our current occupations may not have been predictably planned during early stage education, perhaps we should celebrate the fact that we somehow emerged adequately prepared for the jobs we have today.
As artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA) steadily improves, AI robot co-workers are not so far away from becoming a reality.Despite scaremongering that AI will precipitate sudden mass redundancies, recent research has found staff are looking forward to smart tech ‘colleagues’.Positivity remains high around smart machines’ future capabilities, with 73% expecting it to improve efficiency and almost two-thirds (62%) anticipating a boost in customer experience (CX).By comparison, more than three-quarters (79%) expect RPA to deliver significant efficiency improvements and 59% expect its ability to relieve mundane data input will enhance CX.Switch the power, however, and feelings towards the tech change dramatically.A significant four in five would not be happy with an AI managing them at work.
The initial hype around bots — applications that run partly or entirely using natural language processing, machine learning, computer vision and other AI tech to help consumers ask and answer questions, buy things and get other stuff done — may have waned a bit, but a startup building the equivalent for the enterprise world, in a fast-growing field called robotic process automation, is seeing its star rise.TechCrunch has learned that UiPath, a startup that builds ‘software robots’ for enterprises to help automate legacy and back-office functions, has raised a Series B round of funding that sources tell us is around $120 million — a round that will catapult it to a valuation of over $1 billion.“Catapult” is the operative word here: the company last raised money in April 2017, a $30 million round that valued UiPath, founded in Bucharest, Romania but now headquartered in New York, at around only $109 million, according to data from PitchBook.From what we understand, this latest round — which the company will use to continue investing in its product and growth — will include existing investors along with some high profile new backers.Its previous backers include Accel, Credo Ventures, Earlybird and Seedcamp.KPCB has not responded to our request for comment, so the final amount and investor names will likely change.
Last week, we reported that UiPath, a startup out of Romania building AI-based services for enterprises in the area of robotic process automation (RPA) — helping businesses automate mundane tasks in back-office IT systems — was about to close a big round, upwards of $120 million at a $1 billion-plus valuation.Today, the company is making it official (and officially bigger): UiPath has raised $153 million in a Series B round that values the company at $1.1 billion — more than ten-fold the company’s valuation when it last raised funding, in April of last year.This latest round was led by previous backer Accel, along with participation from new investors CapitalG (one if Google’s investment vehicles) and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, as well as previous investors Earlybird, Credo Ventures and Seedcamp.“We’re putting our money where our mouth is,” Accel partner Rich Wong, who is joining the board, said in an interview.“We wouldn’t have led the Series B after leading the Series A if it wasn’t for that momentum.” He compared the kind of growth that he’s seen at UiPath to that of other successful enterprise startups Accel has backed such as Atlassian, Slack and Qualtrics.“We think UiPath has all the evidence of progress.”
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