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Blue Prism Offers A Lever for Culture Change to Mature Enterprises

Blue Prism adopted the theme “Connected RPA – Powering the Connected Entrepreneur Enterprise” at its recent Blue Prism World conferences, the key components of connected-RPA being the Blue Prism connected-RPA platform, Blue Prism Digital Exchange, Blue Prism Skills, and Blue Prism Communities:

 

Components of Blue Prism's connected-RPA

 

Blue Prism is positioning by offering mature companies the promise of closing the gap with digital disruptors, both technically and culturally. The cultural aspect is important, with Blue Prism technology positioned as a lever to help organizations attract and inspire their workforce and give digitally-savvy entrepreneurial employees the technology to close the “digital entrepreneur gap” and also close the gap between senior executives and the workforce.

Within this vision, the Blue Prism roadmap is based around helping organizations to:

  • Automate more – here, Blue Prism is introducing intelligent automation skills, ML-based process discovery, and DX
  • Automate better – with more expansive and scalable automations
  • Automate together – by learning from the mistakes and achievements of others.

Introducing intelligent document processing capability

When analyzing the interactions on its Digital Exchange (DX), Blue Prism unsurprisingly found that the single biggest use, with 60% of the items being downloaded from DX, was related to unstructured document processing.

Accordingly, Blue Prism has just announced a beta intelligent document processing program, Decipher. Decipher is positioned as an easy on-ramp to document processing and is a document processing workflow that can be used to ingest & classify unstructured documents. It can be used “out-of-the-box” without the need to purchase additional licenses or products, and organizations can also incorporate their own document capture technologies, such as Abbyy, or document capture services companies within the Decipher framework.

Decipher will clean documents to ensure that they are ready for processing, apply machine learning to classify the documents, and then to extract the data. Finally, it will apply a confidence score to the validity of the data extracted and pass to a business user where necessary, incorporating human-in-the-loop assisted learning.

Accordingly, Decipher is viewed by Blue Prism as a first step in the increasingly important move beyond rule-based RPA to introduce machine learning-based human-in-the-loop capability. Not surprisingly, Blue Prism recognizes that, as machine learning becomes more important, people will need to be brought into the loop much more than at present to validate “low-confidence” decisions and to provide assisted learning to the machine learning.

Decipher is starting with invoice processing and will then expand to handle other document types.

Improving control of assets within Digital Exchange (DX)

The Digital Exchange (DX) is another vital component in Blue Prism’s vision of connected-RPA.

Enhancements planned for DX include making it easier for organizations to collaborate and share knowledge and facilitating greater security and control of assets by enabling an organization to control the assets available to itself. Assets will be able to be marked as private, effectively providing an enterprise-specific version of the Blue Prism digital exchange and within DX, there will be a “skills” drag-and-drop toolbar so that users, and not just partners, will be able to publish skills.

Blue Prism, like Automation Anywhere, is also looking to bring an e-commerce flavor to its DX: developers will be able to create skills and then sell them. Initially, Blue Prism will build some artifacts themselves. Others will be offered free-of-charge by partners in the short-term, with a view in the near term to enabling partners to monetize their assets.

Re-aligning architecture & introducing AI-related skills

Blue Prism has been working closely with cloud vendors to re-align its architecture, and in particular to rework its UI to appeal to a broader range of users and make Blue Prism more accessible to business users.

Blue Prism is also improving its underlying architecture to make it more scalable as well as more cloud-friendly. There will be a new, more native and automated means of controlling bots via a browser interface available on mobiles and tablets that will show the health of the environment in terms of meeting SLAs, and provide notifications showing where interventions are required. Blue Prism views this as a key step in moving towards provision of a fully autonomous digital workforce that manages itself.

Data gateways (available on April 30, 2019 in v6.5) are also being introduced to make Blue Prism more flexible in its use of generated data. Organizations will be able to take data from the Blue Prism platform and send it to ML for reporting, etc.

However, Blue Prism will continue to use commodity AI and is looking to expand the universe of technologies available to organizations and bring them into the Blue Prism platform without the necessity for lots of coding. This is being done via continuing to expand the number of Blue Prism partners and by introducing the concept of Blue Prism skills.

At Blue Prism World, the company announced five new partners:

  • Bizagi, for process documentation and modeling, connecting with both on-premise and cloud-based RPA
  • Hitachi ID Systems, for enhanced identity and access management
  • RPA Supervisor, an added layer of monitoring & control
  • Systran, providing digital workers with translation into 50 languages
  • Winshuttle, for facilitating transfer of data with SAP.

At the same time, the company announced six AI-related skills:

  • Knowledge & insight
  • Learning
  • Visual perception: OCR technologies and computer vision
  • Problem-solving
  • Collaboration: human interaction and human-in-the-loop
  • Planning & sequencing.

Going forward

Blue Prism recognizes that while the majority of users presenting at its conferences may still be focused on introducing rule-based processes (and on a show of hands, a surprisingly high proportion of attendees were only just starting their RPA journeys), the company now needs to take major strides in making automation scalable, and in more directly embracing machine learning and analytics.

The company has been slightly slow to move in this direction, but launched Blue Prism labs last year to look at the future of the digital worker, and the labs are working on addressing the need for:

  • More advanced process analytics and process discovery
  • More inventive and comprehensive use of machine learning (though the company will principally continue to partner for specialized use cases)
  • Introduction of real-time analytics directly into business processes.

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