Blue Prism’s Linda Dotts on the strategic direction of the company

Blue Prism’s Linda Dotts on the strategic direction of the company Blue Prism, the veteran RPA solution specialist recently acquired SaaS-based RPA solution provider, Thoughtonomy. IBS Intelligence caught up with Linda Dotts, global strategy lead for partners and programs at Blue Prism to talk about the acquisition and the strategic direction of the company.

Can you describe your typical day?  

A typical day at Blue Prism goes twice as fast compared with other companies because the growth is so aggressive that we really must move quickly to drive maximum usage of it. But specifically, to the partner strategy and programs role, I focus on three keys areas:

  • Technology Alliance Partners: These are independent software vendors or ISVs that create software to enable the digital worker to do more. This involves working with technology partners that surround digital workers and making those capabilities easy to consume. The partners play a key role in enabling the digital worker to drive better business outcomes for the customer. That is partnered very closely with our Digital Exchange, a platform for consumers, partners and others who want to consume capabilities of the digital worker, as well as suppliers to provide their content into a digital exchange so that consumers can use their services. This brings the producers and the consumers together on a single platform.
  • Strategy: This plays a key part as we focus not only on our go to market strategy, but also look at the next two to three years of how our customers are going to consume the digital workforce, from what type of partners and what type of partner models. This has changed a lot in the past few years, evolving from an onpremise based licence model to a managed services or cloudbased model in the robotic process automation (RPA) space.
  • Programs for Partners: This program focuses on making partners as successful as they can be and enabling them to keep pace with the changes in the market including technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive, and growing to scale.

Blue Prism relies on a partner model. Tell us more about this strategy Although RPA as a discipline and Blue Prism as a company have been around for longer, the RPA market has accelerated very quickly during the past three to four years. As a mid-sized software company, we had to find a way to address this rapidly growing demand in a very short time. One of the reasons for the partner model was to drive scale. As you look at the type of implementation that customers are doing and how they are utilising their digital workforce, you realise that the digital transformation plan often goes beyond Blue Prism.

We are a component of a customer’s bigger automation or digital transformation strategy and therefore the partners are absolutely imperative. We are extremely lucky to have partners that include every one of the global solution integrators such as EY, Deloitte, KPMG and Accenture, that bring capabilities into the market as well as consult. These partners have built entire practices around intelligence automation or digital transformation and they have Blue Prism people within that practice, thus bringing our capabilities into the largest organisations. That is complemented by companies that provide RPA as a service, such as platform and managed services providers. That combined level of knowledge, not only of RPA capabilities but also of a specific industry and customer’s business processes, enables customers to effectively leverage RPA into their businesses. This drives business value more quickly because it’s about understanding which processes achieve business impact or the value that the customer is trying to achieve.

If we only have Blue Prism people, there would be a steep learning curve about each of these customers as the market evolves. We have surrounded the partner with two types of resources.  One is the customer success, which works very closely with the sales team and the partner in ensuring that we are bringing the best of Blue Prism – the best practices or the best robotic operating model into the customer environment.  The second is partner success, which I mentioned earlier. This is focused on enabling the partner to always be on top of its game, leveraging Blue Prism as part of the automation capability these companies bring to the market.

What was the rationale behind the Thoughtonomy acquisition?  

This acquisition combines the power of Blue Prism’s connectedRPA platform with a fully integrated suite of premium quality AI and RPA capabilities without the overhead of setting up a dedicated infrastructure to support the program. Thoughtonomy’s offering builds on and extends Blue Prism’s Digital Exchange, making it easier for Blue Prism users to access powerful AI capabilities. Finally, Thoughtonomy’s well placed position in financial services further drives Blue Prism’s RPA adoption in this key market. Thoughtonomy enabled us to expand our market coverage in three ways.

First is access to the mid-tier enterprise, which is the next wave of growth for automation, specifically our connected RPA strategy. Mid-tier companies don’t have a lot of infrastructure on their premises and can’t afford to accommodate the same amount of infrastructure that a larger firm can. A cloud-based solution became very important for that market. Second, mid-tier organisations like packaged automation capabilities, unlike the larger enterprises that want choice. While larger enterprises will like to pick from the multiple vendors for features such as OCR, AI and others, mid-tier firms want all the AI and RPA capabilities bundled into an easy to deploy package. The third important aspect of synergy from Thoughtonomy is the Microsoft angle, where the latter has been targeting mid-tier enterprises.

Most of Blue Prism’s revenues have historically come from the EMEA Americas region.  Is APAC a growth opportunity?  

We are looking at APAC and Japan, and also plan to enter China in the future. Within APAC, there are markets such as India and the Philippines that became hubs for business process outsourcing. In addition to financial services, pharma, manufacturers, insurance and so on, there is also a concentration of work sitting in these BPO centres that is primed for automation. One of our strongholds in APAC is Australia, which was a very early market for Blue Prism. For any technology, Australia is always among the frontrunners.

Meanwhile, Japan’s a little different, where they often watch other markets and only proceed once the technology has matured. It has a lot to do with tech evolution and how it moves around the globe. We started in Australia, moving on to Japan and now we have headquarters in Singapore for serving the broader APAC market. In India and the Philippines, besides the end-consumer market, there are also the BPOs and global in-house centres (GICs). This set of companies were initially reluctant to take on automation because their main resources were people. However, they realised that people could take on more productive roles once they adopted automation.

What is your strategy for Digital Exchange?  

Most companies know the value in intelligent automation, but few know where to start. By using our Digital Exchange, companies can quickly access tried and tested RPA skills that have been developed by both our partners and wider developer community. For the financial services sector, this can be really reassuring as they can quickly get up to speed with RPA without having to take the risk of trying something new and untested.

What are the top challenges for banks implementing RPA?

The most important piece about RPA is understanding how you are going to manage the processes and the digital workers in conjunction with your human workforce and having a central way to do this. Second, understanding the processes and how you are going to evaluate the processes that will deliver from an automation perspective that you need and then driving the results along with road.

What is the outlook for RPA?  Do you see RPA existing by itself or merging into an AI solution?

The future is connected RPA, which is leveraging RPA in conjunction with AI machine learning capabilities and leveraging it with business processes that are typically dependent on other applications. It is that connected value that will drive RPA into the next generation.  Today, IT departments often spend most of their budget on maintaining and updating processes and systems, rather than focusing on new initiatives; this leaves organisations vulnerable to competitors who can innovate faster. We plan to provide an intelligent digital workforce capable of self-learning and continuous improvement.

The connected RPA gives enterprises a game-changing way of staying competitive and accelerating time to market for new services and products by easily accessing and exploiting leading-edge cloud, AI and cognitive capabilities. Our vision for connected RPA is about giving the power of creativity to an organisation’s people, while maintaining control and connecting innovations together, so individual work adds up to a far more powerful whole.

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