The lowest-hanging fruit is robotic process automation (RPA). It is similar and can overlap with intelligent business process management (iBPM) and natural language processing (NLP, which uses technology to automate simple spoken or written commands). Though the suite of alphabet soup acronyms sound impressive and complicated, they are often used to handle automatically such time-intensive, error-prone and mind-numbing repetitive tasks as billing, order tracking and stock management. It is not surprising that RPA is the most developed area of automation.
UIPath, a privately held company headquartered in New York, is the undisputed leader in this field and is the fastest growing technology company in North America, according to Deloitte, the giant consulting firm. Founded 15 years ago in Romania, UiPath now has over 6,000 customers worldwide, nearly 3,000 employees, annual revenue of about $400 million, and reached a valuation of $10,2 billion earlier this week.
While the use of unattended robots, those that do not need human intervention (a field that is led by Blue Prism, a British company founded in 2001), has not been affected – they are doing what they did before — the virus, by scattering the workforce, has accelerated the adoption of attended robots that require human intervention and decision-making, and which are UIPath’s specialty.
It seems that intelligent automation is at an inflection point. Those in the industry are, for the most part, optimistic about the future, near, medium and long-term. The momentum for automation was already building prior to Covid-19, but the sudden and widespread impact of the pandemic has accelerated the transition, in some cases by laying bare the need for change.
Industry insiders are united in one vision of intelligent automation: It will become so seamlessly integrated into how organizations work, and so easy to use, that it will no longer be remarkable. People will stop paying attention to it because it will just be there, working in the background, and providing a myriad of services and solutions.