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UiPath amplifies the RPA’s value that comes from scale

UiPath’s position as one of the leading vendors defining the robotic process automation (RPA) market comes with responsibilities for managing expectations across stakeholders, and the company knows it. Enhancing its value proposition by adding the necessary layers of technologies and deploying business-led frameworks internally and with alliance partners helps it build use cases of scale, a necessary attribute to maintain growth momentum, as RPA is no longer a siloed, line-of-business-led initiative, but rather a node in an enterprisewide automation initiative. 

UIPATH’S ENHANCED AND EXPANDED TECHNOLOGY STACK PROVIDES A SOLID FOUNDATION TO REACH SCALE

Solving the productivity paradox has become the guiding light for UiPath’s product development as the company seeks to gain broader stakeholder buy-in. RPA tools continue to be largely selected and utilized by business customers, but the need for democratizing data while addressing larger IT complexities is compelling UiPath to ensure ease of use of its offerings for the broader user community. Targeting new personas beyond RPA developers, including business analysts, citizen developers and testers, expands UiPath’s core platform addressable market but also raises expectations around ROI. By enhancing and adding features including design tools (e.g., Studio, Studio X, Studio T), management tools (e.g., Orchestrator, Cloud Platform, AI Fabric), apps (e.g., Forms, Tasks, Chatbots) and insights (e.g., RPA, Business Analytics), UiPath’s end-to-end automation suite captures the entire cycle of plan, build, manage, run, engage and measure.

While the build, manage and run stages are somewhat legacy capabilities, expanding into the plan cycle, which was accelerated through the acquisition of Netherlands-headquartered ProcessGold and enabled through the launch of UiExplorer, helps UiPath act as an arbitrator of the dilemma “Should a company automate a bad process or fix the process first?” by applying a scientific plan for implementing RPA one process at a time. TBR also sees the purchase of ProcessGold as an attempt for UiPath to increase its value proposition for higher-value design thinking workshops. While we do not expect UiPath to be a threat to its consulting partners’ core expertise, wrapping advisory frameworks with AI-enabled process mining tools could address the dilemma sooner. The engage and measure pillars of the UiPath Platform suite provide the connective tissue between the deeper collaboration between humans and robots as well as pave the way for the company’s pragmatic AI vision of building intelligent systems that provide the proper tools and skills. How to measure and report the true business impact of RPA implementation, however, remains up for debate, as enterprise buyers approach automation differently. As UiPath strives to reach scale, the inevitable question of “What’s next?” is rather loaded considering the hype around AI, the possibilities of automation and the future of RPA. During the conference UiPath released the AI Fabric solution in private mode, first announced in April, to address the barriers of AI and RPA working together including in operations, technology and processes. As the notion of AI fabric is breaking down siloes between RPA and data science teams through features such as intuitive interface, operationalizing AI models and closing the RPA-AI data feedback loop, AI Fabric is a timely response to buyers’ adoption of AI, which for many is still in a pilot phase.

For the second year in a row TBR attended the annual UiPath Forward conference, the focus of which has shifted dramatically from regionally oriented in 2018 to global in 2019, reflecting the company’s efforts to build a framework and portfolio offerings developed and delivered through integrated scale. And stories of scale were not lacking: The conference hosted close to 3,000 attendees this year — twice as many as last year — and demonstrated expanded capabilities of the core UiPath Platform. UiPath also announced two acquisitions and shared four dozen client stories onstage. Under the slogan “Reboot Work,” the conference amplified the broader need for rebooting customer experience and business overall, which in many cases is easier said than done, but client stories shared during the conference showed pain points are lessening, reflecting on UiPath’s Automation First vision with “automation is the application” framework at its core.

Transform at the intersect: NIIT Technologies and the near future of digital and post-digital transformation

NIIT Technologies gets closer to buyers to provide deeper support in an evolving digital and post-digital market  

Opening the event, NIIT Technologies CEO Sudhir Singh described his efforts to recraft the company as a “post-digital firm,” including making cognitive a part of every NIIT Technologies engagement. He further declared NIIT Technologies had transitioned from being a vendor that works for clients to being a services vendor that works with clients and technology partners. Across the three-day event, multiple NIIT Technologies leaders and professionals echoed this sentiment around the shift from “work for” to “work with.” Clients also repeated versions of this message, indicative of the traction it has gained within NIIT Technologies’ ecosystem. At a strategic level, Sudhir Singh said his company intended to “move the center of gravity to the markets,” putting NIIT Technologies’ people where the company’s clients are. In that effort, NIIT Technologies over the last 18 months has opened new centers in Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Las Vegas; Princeton, N.J.; and Boise, Idaho. At the same time, Sudhir Singh reiterated an NIIT Technologies characteristic which TBR highlighted last year: staying focused on doing a few things exceptionally well. Now and going into next year, this approach includes limiting industries served, remaining selective in partnerships and identifying a limited number of emerging technology areas where NIIT Technologies can excel. Sudhir Singh said (and multiple discussions with NIIT Technologies professionals and clients confirmed) that banking, insurance, travel and retail/media make up the vast majority of NIIT Technologies’ clients, and one of NIIT Technologies’ strengths is a “hyper-specialization” within these industries. Matrixed across those four industries, NIIT Technologies delivers services in four technology areas: cognitive, data analytics, automation/integration and cloud. Staying within its core “swim lane” is the right approach as, according to TBR’s Digital Transformation Insights research, buyers often expect vendors to bring forward pointed, purpose-driven solutions rather than “blue sky” transformational ideas during workshops discussions.

Turning to the overall IT services market, Sudhir Singh focused on three main trends. First, “technology spend is increasingly nondiscretionary,” resulting in less worry on NIIT Technologies’ part about clients’ year-to-year IT budgets and a greater emphasis on long-term relationships and fully leveraging emerging technologies. Second, at a third or more of NIIT Technologies’ clients, the COO also acts as the CIO, furthering a trend toward digital readiness and adoption across all leadership levels within an enterprise. (Note: TBR’s Digital Transformation Insights Report: Voice of the Customer from earlier this year confirms these two trends.) Lastly, Sudhir Singh said that with cognitive being the “X factor” in IT services going forward, fully connecting the front, middle and back office while continuing to get customer experience right will drive most enterprises’ digital and post-digital transformation in the near term.

NIIT Technologies gathered roughly 170 clients, technology partners, industry experts, analysts and NIIT Tech professionals, for two days of discussions and informal meetings in Miami. The setting fostered casual conversations among clients and other attendees, with clients surprisingly receptive to TBR’s questions. NIIT Technologies had only one main stage presentation, an opening address by the CEO, with clients and industry experts driving the rest of the panel discussions and main stage presentations. 

Not your father’s partner programs: How vendors and partners are evolving cloud ecosystems

Chicken or egg first? For partner programs, that makes a big difference

As Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) created the modern computing era in the 1990s, partner programs were at the forefront. The success of these companies and the distributed computing era in general was largely built on the backs of technology and distribution partners. In fact, these companies still rely on partners to drive a majority of their revenue today. The same cannot be said for the cloud era of IT, which was led by the direct sales strategies of top vendors such as Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) and Amazon Web Services (AWS; Nasdaq: AMZN). These two vendors became leaders in their respective cloud markets by selling directly to customers, bypassing distribution partners altogether. Partners are certainly playing a larger role now, but the timing does impact their position in the value chain for cloud. Without a well-defined value-add in the self-service, transactional and passive sales strategies for cloud, partners are forced to create or carve out activities that are both unaddressed by the cloud provider and hold value for the end customer. Rather than traditional IT vendors relying on partners to drive their business, in cloud those partners are on their own in many respects to identify and develop their own value-add. Being creative, developing intellectual property and focusing on the gaps between multivendor solutions are much more important activities for partners in cloud programs compared with traditional ones.

Partners may look the same, but are in fact quite different

“What does a cloud partner look like?” was a common question as these new cloud-centric programs came to be. It was unclear if a new startup class of born-on-the-cloud partners would come into existence, or if the existing stock of VAR, distributor, MSP, systems integration (SI) and hosting partners would eventually transform their businesses to align with the new cloud business opportunities. As shown in Figure 1, the types of partners participating in new cloud programs is just the first category of changes programs are undergoing. As the answer to what type of partners are needed for these programs comes into view, it is looking like a little bit of the former and a lot of the latter. Cloud-native partners that are focused on consulting, managed services, intellectual property development and cloud solution integration hold a small but important space in the market. The difficult thing for vendors is that there are not very many of these newly formed partners, and to make matters worse, many are being acquired. It is also difficult to spur their creation or fit them into a traditional partner program. While traditional partners are cattle that can be controlled and herded in a consistent direction, cloud-native partners are wilder animals that create, forge and follow their own path. In terms of existing partners changing to focus on cloud solutions, that, too, is a difficult task. The truth is that many traditional VAR-type partners, focused on reselling and implementation activities, may not survive the transition to cloud solutions. Part of this is generationally driven, as many of the baby boomer-owned partner businesses lack the incentive to adapt their business model with retirement looming. Many of these partners will ride the slow decline of traditional IT opportunity until eventually closing their doors. Those traditional partners that do make the transition to a more cloud-focused business model will compose the largest segment of cloud partners. While they may keep the same name, these partners will be operating in a fundamentally different manner compared with traditional partner models.

emerging trends in partner program attributese
Figure 1: Emerging Trends in Partner Program Attributes

UiPath Forward Americas

UiPath brings robots ‘to life’ through business-first approach

Under the slogan “a robot for every person” UiPath’s CEO and Co-founder Daniel Dines’ vision for automation takes a pragmatic approach and furthers Bill Gates’ 1980 Microsoft mission of “A computer on every desk and in every home.” While UiPath and/or any of its competitors are far from making this vision a reality, it certainly summarizes the company’s total addressable market. As UiPath executes on its vision, the company’s comprehensive portfolio of attended and unattended robots as well as a SaaS orchestrator solution meet current market needs for solutions addressing brokerage and management of structured and unstructured data across the front, middle and back office. Additionally, UiPath’s approach to automation through a business lens makes it an appealing vendor that can help consultancies and other alliance partners better target line-of-business leads, especially clients with backgrounds in Six Sigma and Lean methodology training.

While UiPath will continue to have the tough task of overcoming skepticism around the public perception that automation will eliminate jobs, educating the market on the broader ROI from the use of RPA, including increased productivity, improved accuracy and compliance, can help it counteract initial resistance and accelerate adoption. Use cases, such the one with a Japan-based bank that deployed 1,000 UiPath robots to optimize the work of 700 FTEs with the long-term goal of creating capacity for 4,000 employees and saving $500 million over three years, make for a tangible impact on operations and the bottom line.

As the pendulum continues to swing between hope for and fear of automation, accelerated by hype, UiPath’s value proposition and go-to-market strategy enables it to illustrate that automation is not a jobs killer but rather a jobs creator.

 

 

TBR attended the second annual UiPath Forward Americas conference in Miami. TBR interacted with executives from across UiPath and its partners and clients. With over 1,500 attendees, including 500 partners and client executives, the conference was three times larger than the first UiPath Forward Americas event a year ago. During the sessions, UiPath highlighted its exponential success over the past three years, with a fair dose of energy but balanced with humility. UiPath provided an update on its financial performance and portfolio road map and laid out new initiatives including the launches of UiPath Go, the Academic Alliance, the UiPath Venture Innovation Fund and the UiPath Partner Acceleration Fund. These new initiatives connected well with the discussions about the need for democratization of automation and collaboration among business leaders, IT and the partner ecosystem.