Delivering on the 2020 Vision
UiPath expands its RPA platform to create the first-ever, end-to-end automation lifecycle management solution. New, groundbreaking capabilities were announced during UiPath's Forward III user conference in October 2019. The following month, it released the 2019.10 long-term support (LTS) Enterprise Edition, as well as a product rollout schedule. There is much to unpack, and tremendous customer and partner excitement. Let’s dive right into what’s new!
What We’re Most Excited About
We’ll focus on five new and exciting capabilities in the UiPath platform expansion:
- Understand and improve business processes
- Accelerate time-to-value and improve delivery quality
- Make AI real with cognitive capabilities
- Beyond Azure – integrate with Microsoft products and services
- Measure and improve business outcomes
UiPath expands its RPA platform with 900 new features and 3,000 bug fixes. However, in this post, we’re only scratching the surface!
Understand and Improve Business Processes
C-level executives focus on achieving business outcomes that align with strategic corporate goals. To enable these business outcomes requires a scientific and data-driven approach to understanding current business processes. Also important, stakeholders should identify the associated challenges and pain points. Finally, organizations should assess the automation potential and prioritize use cases for RPA based on identified business processes.
Enter UiPath’s Explorer family of products, and UiPath Enterprise Connect Hub. Together, these new products provide end-to-end capabilities for:
- Process understanding
- Process design
- Business outcomes (together with UiPath Insights and/or other reporting and analytics capabilities)
- Process improvement
Capabilities for Business Process Understanding
Specifically, Explorer Enterprise and Process Gold create data-driven visual process maps of front-end and back-end tasks, respectively. What we like most is the process maps include business exceptions, and therefore potential for improvement! To illustrate, while business users are aware of process challenges and pain points, what’s lacking is the visual representation and the data to measure the impact. Without a doubt, visualization and underlying data enable process assessment and improvements.
Explorer Expert makes it possible to document both current state and future state business processes. The output is a process design document (PDD) ready to be shared with business analysts and development teams. They use the PDD to create a functional and technical design for RPA. In fact, RPA developers use the PDD and other documents to design and script the workflows in UiPath Studio.
It should be noted that business users want to report and analyze how their process automations are performing. We’ll discuss later how UiPath Insights measures business outcomes and provides invaluable business and operational reporting and analytics. Consequently, Insights is integral to the end-to-end automation platform because it “closes the loop” with the business process capabilities. For example, it enables customers to continuously identify problem areas that are opportunities for improvement.
Finally, Connect Enterprise Hub, as the product name implies, “connects” the automation pipeline, process documentation, and reusable components in one easy-to-use, cloud-based solution.
Accelerate Time-to-Value and Improve Delivery Quality
Once our customers understand the benefits of an RPA solution, the first question is usually: “How do I start?” Followed by, “How soon can I expect to realize initial benefits?”
We’ve always been big fans of UiPath Studio, the low-code / no-code development tool. However, to deliver automations faster and with better quality, Studio required a major upgrade. UiPath delivers in three key areas. First, UiPath expands its RPA platform to scale and accelerate RPA solutions with more complex, longer workflows. In addition, UiPath improved attended robot operations. Finally, it improved the ability for larger RPA development teams to collaborate, standardize and re-use workflows, activities and tasks.
Improved Implementation of Advanced Workflows
UiPath expands its RPA platform to enable the design and implementation of advanced workflows:
- Processes from previous workflows can be chained to save time and reduce errors (and debugging) through re-use.
- Large, complex workflows benefit from improved team development capabilities (through new source code controls).
- Analyzing and validating workflows against existing projects and workflows, as well as configured rules, simplifies checking for errors and enforcing best practices.
- Searching for project files now includes fuzzy search and non-greedy search.
- Property defaults for project activities can be centrally managed on a per-project basis, and overridden at the activity-level if necessary.
UiPath has improved the debugging experience to improve testing and remediation to deliver better quality RPA solutions. To illustrate, UiPath Studio encourages continuous debugging of workflows with an agile, test-driven development approach. For this reason, several functions have been combined and improved to expose the necessary information during test execution. As a result, Studio enables quick and simple root-cause analysis and remediation of exceptions.
Make AI Real with Cognitive Capabilities
We believe that RPA is on the journey to intelligent automation. Hence, making AI real with improved cognitive capabilities is very exciting. In fact, it's possibly one of the most exciting set of capabilities in UiPath’s platform expansion. To illustrate, during UiPath’s Forward II conference in October 2018, there was more hype than reality about RPA with AI. Nevertheless, one year later, UiPath demonstrated AI Fabric, cognitive capabilities from partners, and AI applications on the UiPath Marketplace.
UiPath is introducing cognitive capabilities to improve the following:
- Visual understanding
- Document understanding
- Process understanding
- Conversational understanding
We’re excited most because UiPath mitigates several RPA challenges and pain points. These include four specific RPA challenges:
- Robots being able to recognize user interface (UI) elements
- Extract data from PDF documents
- Manage business exceptions in workflows
- Interpret business intent in virtual assistant conversations
We would like to cite two computer vision examples to illustrate the benefits:
- Computer vision significantly improves accuracy of reading and extracting data from documents, compared to optical character recognition (OCR) technologies.
- Computer vision improves speed and accuracy of identifying UI elements on a webpage, compared with scripted selection of UI elements.
- In both scenarios, computer vision should be able to accommodate minor changes in document layout or UI element placement, respectively.
Beyond Azure – Integrate with Microsoft Products and Services
UiPath has developed an impressive technology alliance ecosystem with 120+ technology partners. Microsoft is among several UiPath’s strategic partners, and with the platform expansion, the benefits of that partnership are becoming apparent. UiPath now offers RPA customers much improved integration with Microsoft products and services, beyond the Microsoft cloud platform. We’re excited that UiPath continues to expand its “open partner ecosystem” with market-leading, third-party products through native integrations or connectors.
Existing and upcoming Microsoft integrations include:
- Modern Workplace
- Outlook, Excel, Word
- SharePoint, OneDrive, Excel Online, Outlook Online
- Coming (2020): Microsoft Teams, Cortana Enterprise
- Business Apps
- Dynamics 365 (UI automation and native integration)
- Common Data Services
- Coming (2020): PowerApps and Flow integration
- Apps and Infrastructure
- Coming (2020): Azure Windows VDI
- Coming (2020): IT Automation (Azure Operations, Active Directory, Exchange)
- Data and AI
- SQL and SQL Azure
- Azure Cognitive Services (see also above “Make AI Real”), including Computer Vision and Facial Recognition
- Bot Framework integration (Druidsoft and Avaamo)
- PowerBI templates
- Coming (2020): more cognitive services (Microsoft Read, Form Recognizer), embedded document understanding
Extending Value of Microsoft Products with UiPath RPA
Customers will appreciate the improved Microsoft integrations for several reasons:
- Leverage existing investment in Microsoft infrastructure, products and services
- Faster time-to-value for customers already using Microsoft products and services
- Improved RPA adoption because of “known” and “accepted” Microsoft products and services
- Future-proof RPA investment through continued Microsoft product development, upgrades, and compatibility
- Access to Microsoft AI initiatives
Measure and Improve Business Outcomes
As mentioned earlier in this post, C-level executives focus on achieving business outcomes that align with strategic corporate goals. UiPath Insights with powerful embedded analytics measures, reports, and aligns RPA operations with specific KPIs and business outcomes. Customers will be able to answer questions, such as: How successful are our automations? How can we measure and improve their performance? How exactly is our automation strategy impacting the company’s bottom line? In fact, customers should be able to calculate their return on investment (ROI) from RPA! Now that’s exciting for the CFO, COO and CTO!
Of course, customers are able to use their existing analytics environment, such as Kibana / Elasticsearch, Microsoft PowerBI / SQL, etc. Or they can deploy Insights standalone. Finally, Insights can be combined with an existing analytics solution.
UiPath Insights incorporates a number of exciting features:
- Visibility to business and operational metrics in a single, intuitive, configurable user interface.
- Benchmarks RPA operations, including business outcomes, utilizing custom fields to store benchmark data.
- Schedule and share dashboards and reports with key stakeholders based on user group permissions.
- Utilize machine learning (ML) to forecast critical KPI’s and identify potential problem areas and bottlenecks.