UiPath's Chief Product Officer Graham Sheldon just said something that resonates with me:
AI without automation is like the brain without the body.
What does he mean? Well, have you ever gone on holiday and wondered if you remembered to lock the door? Chances are you locked it. You were just on autopilot.
We spend a lot of time at work running on autopilot. Sending updates to team members by email or on chat, setting up new contacts on a CRM - it’s not revolutionary, but it’s productive.
UiPath’s Forward VI conference unveiled its own Autopilot during the event keynote with announcements in the form of ‘show’, not just ‘tell’.
The pitch is this - Autopilot is a set of capabilities designed to improve the lives of developers, testers and analysts, including:
generative AI-powered support for developers to create automations, workflows and code with natural language prompts.
intelligent document processing – the ability to generate apps based on screenshots from legacy systems, text prompts, and PDFs.
clipboard AI that can reduce the time taken to copy and paste data from one application to another.
Automation testing to speed up each phase of the testing lifecycle and identify insights, not just issues, from execution.
CMO Bobby Patrick explained the challenges faced by customers. AI has brought with it a deluge of data, a sizeable skills gap, and governance challenges. Commendably, throughout the keynote, customer voices were wrapped around announcements and demonstrations.
For example, dentsu is a multi-national advertising and public relations company headquartered in Tokyo, with over 60,000 employees. Flo Ye, Director of Automation Solutions, shared some insights into why making a commitment to automation can be a challenge for customers:
I'm not going to lie, It's been really difficult to keep growing the program in the past year because it is a lot of initial commitment to do the 13-hour training on UiPath Academy. You might think that [13 hours] doesn't seem a lot, but for people who actually have a day job. That's a lot to do in addition to what they already have on their day-to-day.
The commitment has proved to be worth it, however:
There's a notion that AI is taking jobs. But I always love to say that just like the cameras back in the 1800s, I'm sure it's a big production to just take one photo, but with the evolution of technology, we see these amazing images and videos now, right? We don't take away the talent from the photographer behind the lens just because they have fancier equipment now - I see the same thing with our set up of Autopilot. So we're really excited at dentsu to make sure that we utilize this technology to take away the tedious part of their job., and have our team members focus on human-centric work that requires creativity.
A plethora of user examples
Later, British Airways told of how that firm encountered a spike in customer claims in 2022. Their traditional manual processing took 25 minutes per claim. Re-engineering with UiPath partner Tquila Automation led to some remarkable results including a drastic reduction in the claim processing time from 20 weeks down to just six days. So far this year, it has processed 55,000 claims, saved £500K and reduced claim processing to six days, while also improving customer loyalty on its net promoter score.
Other use cases on show:
- The US Airforce has deployed over 700 automations across all 90 of its bases and removed over 33,000 manual steps so that people could focus on what matters most - bringing troops home safely.
- Global financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard was able to use UiPath to extract critical information to make business decisions. Global Head of Transformation, Mansi Kapadia explained:
At the core of our solutions, we have UiPath orchestrating generative AI - we did a transformative phased approach. Phase one was about an unattended board with a simple Excel form - the user just puts in a company ticker and a date range, clicks the send button and gets the output via email.”
Fast forward down the adoption line, and there's now a 500 page pitch book for clients:
People need to read it before going into client meetings. So we added layers of generative AI and ChatGPT and we allowed our users to summarize the outputs so they can digest information more quickly. We've condensed a 500 page report into a one page report. We've also worked a lot with Llama index and web plugins to get the most up to date information.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the time needed for software testing is always infinitely larger than the time available. It's not surprising then that the demonstration of the new Test Manager offering received the loudest reaction from the audience.
While Autopilot analyzes the logic of software requirements and tests for errors,Test Manager offers insights and recommendations for fixes. These solutions aren’t just left to trust - developers can add instructions tailored to their needs, and generate step-by-step instructions that allow you to immediately execute that manual test case.
It’s always good practice to leave explanatory comments in code so that someone else can pick it up without having to read each command line-by-line, but Autopilot goes a step further by converting all the manual steps to coded comments, and then interacts with UiPath’s driver framework to build an actual automation.
UiPath’s Forward conference opened not with smoke and rock music (admittedly, that came later), but with three people talking about how they were using AI and automation at work. One example came from Ryne Heck, Transformation Leader at Total Quality Logistics:
The world is shipped. Look around. If you're sitting on it, watching it, eating it, it was shipped. About 55 million tonnes of freight are moved every day in the US, creating a $7 trillion industry. How do you track it? How do you measure it? How do you weigh it? Anywhere in the world? Today, AI-powered automation is making it possible to process vast amounts of information faster with smarter outcomes. We deal with thousands and thousands of interactions every day.
The CEO keynote began and ended with customers talking. Throughout the keynote, customer voices were heard. I’m looking forward to speaking with customers and executives at UiPath Forward this week to find out more.