Imagine - The Martini Moment
Last year I blogged about the Imagine 2018 Event in London, and I was impressed with both the quality of delivery and depth of content provided. It was a spectacular event that delivered a lasting impression long after the dust had settled.
It was therefore going to be a tough task to deliver lightening in a bottle twice, could the impact achieved first time around be delivered again? could they possibly better what went before? Well, yes. And yes.
The location, the orange, and the basics were all the same as last year, if this was your first time attending then the location, the size of the event, the number of people and the quality of delivery would have all had the same impact as the previous year.
If this was your second time round then it reminded you that no one else had come even close to delivering the same calibre of event, described in the introduction as an experience rather than a conference. It's true, you were completely immersed in all things Automation Anywhere.
In addition to the experience itself, the bot games were held on the previous day. On this element I cannot comment first hand as I didn't attend, but those that did were very passionate about the competitive element of RPA.
In the opening discussion Gary Conway claimed that the number of customers in Europe had doubled, and almost tripled. Prior to last year's Imagine AA were probably the RPA underdogs, with the market recognition in the UK falling behind the other well known brands. That all changed with Imagine 2018.
The formal on day 1 provided different tracks which roughly broke down into beginner, intermediate and advanced. An approach that delivered something for everyone. Hot on the heels of the community edition announced a few weeks ago, there was a long roadmap of enhancements announced: new managed service tools, increased configuration of profiles, a browser based designer, a cloud-only platform, multi-tenancy, monetisation of bots and the bot economy, support for Linux.
There was a lot to take in. I think my personal highlight was hands-on with an early beta version the browser based designer. This wasn't a simple duplication of the existing designer but a new and enhanced approach to building bots. I look forward to this being available, though I'm guessing it may be the end of the year before we see it in production.
On a pragmatic level the move to a continuous delivery cycle, and a move away from significant releases in 2019 will see many new features appear as soon as they are ready for use as smaller updates will appear more regularly.
Day 2 took a different approach, firstly both keynote speakers were on stage on Thursday morning. I might have chosen to put them on separate days if I were planning it myself as attendance did dip towards the end of day 1. Both were extremely highly regarded individuals and presented to a packed auditorium.
Jeff Immelt, former CEO of GE and new automation advocate had much to say about the importance of RPA and AI in all industries and leading into the importance of Automation, Analytics and AI for innovation.
Gary Kasparov, former Chess World Champion and now AI evangelist, told his incredible story of battles against the machine before being finally defeated by Deep Blue in 1997. The history of chess and AI was fascinating and concluded with the positive view that the combination of person and machine provides the superior outcome.
Day 2 also focused the choice of streams across industry sectors, providing practical examples of Automation Anywhere as used in those industries. As Mehir Shukla, CEO and Co-founder of Automation Anywhere, had stated in his opening remarks, he could never have imagined the applications that AA has been put to and he continues to be surprised.
Throughout the two days drilled home a 3-part mantra for Automation Anywhere rollouts around the world:
Automate Everything, Adopted by Everyone, Available Everywhere
There were a few down sides, the app/internet didn't work too well. At its worst, everyone was left wondering where to go for their next breakout session as the agenda was only available on the app. The internet/technical issues did plague a few of the sessions, which was a shame as they were otherwise well organised and delivered. These are minor grumbles in the scheme of things, but something to work on for next year.
To conclude, Imagine left me excited for next year and armed with enough information on future enhancements to keep me evangelical until next years 'experience.' Next stop is NYC, if you get the chance to attend then it's highly recommended.