With a title like Blue Prism World it feels like we should be getting Disneyland with Robots. Maybe with such a level of anticipation, the London event last week was always going to struggle to meet such high expectations, and perhaps just two week after Automation Anywhere’s Imagine Conference, comparisons are inevitable.
Things got off to a good start, the Partner Village, where sponsors with deep pockets were able to demonstrate their products, was well organised with lots going on, a learning lounge where bite sized topics were presented and plenty of drinks and rest areas made this a vibrant heart of proceedings across both days. Strike one to Blue Prism, they nailed this one over Imagine where partners were more tightly squeezed into tiny stands in a much smaller space.
Partner Presentations on the morning of day 1 soft-booted the event, this was a good idea, expertly delivered, but lacked any real depth. This is a criticism that troubled both days; there were some great announcements but the hands-on, in-depth material, or clear delivery roadmap were absent and the information you were left with was a bit vague. Imagine did this one better providing a clarity of vision and demonstration of their progress in execution.
I’m told that size isn’t everything, but Blue Prism World wasn't just BIG, it was HUGE! At around 2,500+ people it was double that of AA’s event. Interestingly, a bit of stand-up/sit-down voting in one of the sessions revealed about a 50/50 split of partners and customers; that's still a lot of partners and a lot of customers. Customers generally seemed more mature in their grasp of RPA, which makes it even more surprising that there wasn’t more content tailored for this audience. 30-15, Blue Prism pulls ahead.
The biggest shock of the event was the quality of delivery, speakers were shockingly inconsistent in their level of ability. Fantastic presentations from Pat Geary, David Moss and guest speaker Martha Lane-Fox were interspersed with monotone delivery that drained all life and enthusiasm from the room. It was a shame, because even when the content was good, it was lost through poor delivery. Customer stories were also a bit repetitive, with the same message repeated by different presenters. The choice, and coaching of presentations was lacking in what should have been a huge showcase event. 30-love, AA prepared their presenters for greater impact.
Personally I was interested in the announcements and roadmap, and there was plenty to enjoy and be excited about. The digital exchange provides an open library of shared modules (or skills), with plans to open it up app-store-like in order for developers to sell their work. A new browser based interface really gave the whole thing a bit of polish, and an updated architecture which now facilitates a centralised view of multiple environments is a welcome step for global operations. BP Decipher is the new machine learning engine, converting unstructured data into structured data suitable for processing using RPA, it's an overdue addition that disappointingly concluded with the reality that it wasn't quite ready yet and we would have to wait for an invoice processing trial to start soon.
The Success Accelerators programme has already been soft-launched, helping customers to overcome hurdles and share good practices. This is a great step, but reading between the lines it’s also a step to make sure customers stay in the Blue Prism fold and don’t stray to competitors who are already trying to steal away existing customers. Looking after your customers is crucial and stepping up to take a more proactive role in this will be good for everyone.
The announcement of a cloud based trial version of the Blue Prism software was a damp squib for an audience looking to make product access easier. There is a land-grab going on as this just doesn’t go far enough to make customer engagement easier. All of these announcements should have been genuinely great news, so why do I feel a distinct lack of excitement? Well, I think it’s because all these capabilities exist in competitor products. This is just keeping in the game, not leading the pack as they once did.
To wrap up the event, it all comes back to the partners and the ecosystem, the concept of a connected-RPA linked together almost every presentation, and it’s clear the future developments are going to come from the combination of core RPA and partner capabilities.
The combination of RPA and AI together creates the Intelligent Digital Workforce, a topic that is undoubtedly going to be the focus for 2019.
If you would like to learn more about Blue Prism, the growing connected-RPA ecosystem or learn more about the business side of RPA then contact the team at Wzard Innovation to learn more. Blue Prism Technical training and the Business Side of RPA training are both available from the RPA Academy.