Three insights you might have missed from the UiPath ‘FORWARD VI’ event
Amid what’s referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it’s well understood that enterprises must act. Automation is a crucial driver of that change.
Firms, such as UiPath Inc., will have to move fast and show they’re best at document understanding, process mining, automation creation and computer vision, according to theCUBE industry analyst Dave Vellante (pictured, right). But the company has a chance to carve out a position as a pure play automation expert, he added.
The path ahead was the big question on everyone’s minds before the UiPath FORWARD VI event on Oct. 10-11. The event was an opportunity to explore how UiPath might leverage its early market lead in AI to support vertical expansion as an intelligent data platform.
During the event, analysts for theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, talked with leaders, experts and enthusiasts in the artificial intelligence and automation industry. They discussed how new, democratized AI tools might impact UiPath’s core business and the company’s possible future. (* Disclosure below.)
Here are three key insights you may have missed from the UiPath FORWARD VI event:
1. Companies are grappling with the game-changer that is AI.
During the event, UiPath did something unique with its keynote. It had three businesses up on stage, and the stage light would focus on each company rep, who would then explain their company’s journey. It was theatrical but unique, as 99% of the time, such events typically see chief executive officers coming out on stage to thank attendees. It was suitable given the big and theoretical questions being juggled at the conference, according to theCUBE analyst Rebecca M. Knight (left).
“These kinds of keynotes, we’re pushing this product, and this is what we’re doing. But these were some big questions that we’re wrestling with as a society,” Knight said.
AI has always primarily been about automating the mundane, something that robotic process automation has always been about, noted Vellante. When the company got started, it was a “rocket ship,” with UiPath co-Chief Executive Officer Daniel Dines leading the way, with nearly a $40 billion valuation.
“It’s now a public company, probably trading just under $10 billion. So, they’ve got some work to do,” Vellante added.
The company brought in Robert Enslin, who is a go-to-market expert. Today, AI is a rocket ship for the company, with Enslin’s go-to-market discipline complementing Dines’ role as a technology visionary, according to Vellante.
UiPath is adhering to what it’s calling its North Star Playbook. However, challenges involving industry interest rates still linger ahead.
“They’ve got a long way to go before they can get back to that $38 billion, but they’re in the right spot. But the big question, the existential question for companies like UiPath, is it a tailwind or a headwind?” Vellante said.
After taking in some of the conference, more of UiPath’s strategy around AI began to reveal itself. Until now, UiPath used to have more of a focus on UI automation and some rudimentary process automation, according to Andy Thurai, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc.
“Now, they’re trying to move up the value chain, trying to automate some of the AI things,” he said. “They were even throwing the term around, calling AI automation, which is a uncharted territory if they can figure it out, truly. I think that’s a huge opening for them.”
Here’s the complete keynote analysis with Andy Thurai, Rebecca Knight, Dave Vellante and theCUBE industry analyst Lisa Martin (middle):
2. There’s been an effort to show how AI fits in the UiPath story.
Over the past year, UiPath has been working to show that it’s about more than just RPA. But the challenge was always going to be from a branding point of view, according to Enslin, UiPath’s co-CEO.
“Could we brand ourselves a little different than RPA? And would the market accept it? Enslin asked. “I would say we were a little lucky. Thanks to Microsoft and OpenAI and the announcement around ChatGPT, it gave us massive levels of momentum to speak about what we do in AI.”
In recent months, the company has sought to demonstrate how generative AI fits into the UiPath story. During the conference, the company launched Autopilot, which is intended to democratize generative AI for every business worker.
There’s a unique partnership at play between UiPath and SAP SE, one that aims to mitigate migration fear with automation. The UiPath-SAP team-up involves a customer-centric approach.
“That’s really the mandate we hear from all of our SAP customers that need to move to the cloud, many of whom are coming from older legacy products, some of which have been highly customized,” said Lloyd Adams, president of North America at SAP SE. “The beauty of this partnership with UiPath is it mitigates the fear and worry a lot of them have around, ‘Yes, I know I need to move, but boy, that’s going to be timely and expensive and arduous.’ And this eliminates a lot of that.”
Dines, meanwhile, discussed how the company’s product has gone from studio, to orchestrator, to platform, and how that has changed the company’s market opportunity. The change started when Dines realized how big the problem is that the company is trying to address. He then began to understand how RPA and UI automation is only “one way to skin the cat.”
“You also need to have APIs, because you’ll call — and most of our automations are a mix of API calls and UI automation calls — then, you need to understand documents, because many processes come with some sort of document,” he said. “They start with the document, or they are document-centric. To put this together, you kind of make a platform.”
It’s not the one product, but instead three distinct technologies that one has to make together, Dines noted. That was the decision that led UiPath to build a platform.
The company has now moved from a narrow RPA product to one that infuses AI solutions. It has various strategic investments across natural language processing, large language models and semantic automation.
“What if automation can actually understand what they do? They’ll be much more powerful in the sense when they stop working for some reason, they can adapt. They become way more like humans,” Dines said.
Here’s theCUBE’s complete video interview with Robert Enslin and Lloyd Adams:
Here’s theCUBE’s complete video interview with Daniel Dines:
3. Various use cases are emerging.
One of the key areas of focus during UiPath FORWARD VI involved various AI enterprise use cases. This year saw the inaugural UiPath AI10 Awards program, with Intel Corp. being one of the organizations recognized.
Intel received recognition for automating a manually intensive process in its global trade organization. As a part of that process, it would accurately handle changing product codes for the shipment of goods to countries around the world.
“In 25 weeks, we’ve done 35,000 products at 99% accuracy,” said Siddharth Shah, automation leader at Intel. “We have an ingestion layer where we put the new codes, the model gets retrained every quarter and that’s how we maintain that accuracy. We are transforming how we are doing the work.”
Prudential Financial Inc., meanwhile, has been searching for ways to unlock new revenue areas and improve the overall user experience. That’s made all the more critical given how tech-intensive the world of finance has become.
“How you ensure that there is less bot downtime, how you have less system downtime, how you manage all those things, is very critical,” said Subhro Gupta, vice president of disruptive technologies at Prudential Financial. “It’s extremely important to focus on re-engineering the process before you automate so that those things together can drive a lot of value for any automation program.”
Innovation in AI-infused automation is stretching into the healthcare sector too. Mayo Clinic has tapped UiPath to leverage automation to reduce administrative work and allocate special tasks to humans while optimizing areas where expertise matters.
“Are we using the systems that we invest in to the best of our abilities?” asked Jared Staal, senior director of advanced analytics and AI at the Mayo Clinic. “If not, when we see those gaps, where can we fill those gaps with augmented workflows [and] AI layered in to help that decision-making process?”
Here’s theCUBE’s complete video interview with Siddharth Shah; Jeff Rittener, chief trade officer and general manager, International Trade Group, at Intel; and Maureen Fleming, program vice president at International Data Corp.:
To watch more of theCUBE’s coverage of the UiPath FORWARD VI event, here’s our complete event video playlist:
(* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the UiPath Forward event. Neither UiPath, the sponsor of theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)
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