With AIIM 2019 in the books, we thought we’d share a few observations from our experience at this event, which was attended by 650 people from 29 countries.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
While it seems like every document capture and enterprise content management (ECM) vendor out there is talking about RPA and has some kind of offering, apparently, not many are being deployed.
Those few end-users mentioning RPA actually in use in their organization didn’t know much about it – it seems the implementation was in another department and they weren’t sure what RPA is doing for them.
Beware the Buzz
Being in an industry where there is a lot of focus on new technology, the buzz about RPA reminds us that it’s crucial to understand how new technology translates into value in the big picture – don’t buy into what you think is happening, make sure you validate.
During the PSIGEN roundtable discussion on RPA, AI and blockchain led by Chris Brown, we were expecting more discussion about the deployment of these technologies. A representative from Europol discussed the use of facial and handwriting recognition to catch terrorists, human traffickers and other criminals in Europe. Someone else described the use of blockchain for land contracts and to ensure chain of custody. The rest of the group seemed to be listening for examples of how this technology could be used for their benefit – and perhaps the RPA “killer app.”
The Two Shoe Salesmen
RPA reminds us of the often-repeated allegory about two shoe salesmen who visit an island where no one wears shoes. Salesman #1 complains there is no market and returns home disappointed. Salesmen #2 is excited because he sees a huge market for shoes.
When you see this story on the internet, salesman #2 is typically portrayed as the more enlightened of the two, presumably on the road to tremendous success, but there’s little speculation about what may have happened next. What if salesman #1 was right, or salesman #2 was right but it took him 10 years to cash in, while salesman #1 was successfully selling to established markets the whole time?
So, what’s the story with RPA? As we covered in our recent blog here, RPA started out as screen-scraping technology 15 years ago and has evolved a little, but appears to still be looking for its’ calling. So what explains the buzz? Gartner with their $680 million predictions? Is the real story about AI and machine learning? Time will tell…
Remember the Humans
When questioned about these technologies and how they are impacting their workload, many in our roundtable discussion offered blank stares as responses. This reminds us it’s more important to be focused on clearly identifying how technology can be used to automate the drudgery that people hate, so they can do more of what they love and what they’re good at. The marketing may be working to bring about the discussions, but the reality is, people still need to be informed about what exactly this tech does for them. I challenge us all to lighten up on the buzz and instead dive deeper into the real meat of the matter. It is much more enjoyable talking with an informed prospect than cleaning up the misinformation.
And finally, please don’t plan a conference in an expensive West Coast city during the last week of Q1… just saying.