AiThority Interview with Prince Kohli, CTO, Automation Anywhere
Hi Prince, please tell us how you started at Automation Anywhere.
I’ve always had a passion and curiosity for technology, which started at a young age, where I was raised in India – ultimately resulting today in a fulfilling, a quarter-century-long career in Silicon Valley. It has been an exciting ride. What drew me to Automation Anywhere is our vision to create software bots that can automate repetitive, manual business tasks, and free our minds to focus on the more creative, strategic, high-level work.
Before Automation Anywhere, I held leadership roles at various companies including Ericsson, running global R&D for all digital products, and before that, at Citrix – in the cloud and enterprise groups, after co-founding a security start-up that was acquired by Citrix.
How much have your role and responsibilities as a CTO at Automation Anywhere evolved in the last year or so? How much has the COVID-19 crisis influenced this transformation in your CTO role?
My role has changed as the market and the world has changed. Today, I get to hear much more about customers’ pain points than ever before, given the seismic shifts wrought by the pandemic, and their continued search for managing employee morale and productivity.
Like the rest of the world, we have been greatly transformed by the COVID-19 crisis. With many offices turning to the cloud to enable remote operations and business resiliency, Automation Anywhere doubled-down on our cloud platform – Enterprise A2019 – the industry’s only web-based and cloud-native intelligent RPA platform. It turned out to be clairvoyant as cloud demand skyrocketed this year with Automation Anywhere seeing a 600% increase in demand for its cloud products since the onset of the pandemic.
We’ve continued to develop products in the intelligent automation – or RPA – space to enable continuity and resiliency during the pandemic, and worked with the healthcare sector and government to deploy them to combat COVID-19. This includes:
- Helping hospitals develop a bot to monitor the administration of the flu vaccine, paving the way for augmenting COVID-19 vaccinations.
- Automating the manual processing of the World Health Organization (WHO) clinical case forms using IQ Bot
- Directing citizens in Macao, China to vital information such as hospital wait times and more with The Macao Anti-Epidemic Real-Time Interactive Map in collaboration with Netcraft.
- Employee risk assessment tool for managing COVID-19 for IT consulting firm Shenzhen Pactera Information Limited in mainland China to determine employees’ risk of infection as they return home after traveling outside of the region.
- Using bots to help Banco de Guayaquil implement grace periods for loan processing and repayments when payments are not rescheduled promptly and mitigate negative impacts on consumers’ credit.
- Vista Bank streamlining SBA loan applications using the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Bots to cut down application processing time from 3 weeks to 3 days.
Customer feedback has also shaped new products.
The company recently introduced AARI (Automation Anywhere Robotic Interface) which provides a simple-to-use, bot-to-human interface that oversees and orchestrates various business processes. AARI enables all users to further simplify everyday tasks, improve collaboration between teams, and provide best-in-class customer service – either on-premises or in the cloud. In addition, another highly popular product is Discovery Bot, which mines processes using AI and then suggests – and builds – which bots will best streamline work. We are even automating the process of automating workflows – to allow everyone to participate in the RPA process, regardless of IT experience or title.
What is the most contemporary definition of RPA? How do you use RPA definitions to create an effective AI ML-based roadmap for all your products?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) allows organizations to automate end-to-end business processes with software robots that perform repetitive and manual tasks, reaching across any and all applications of all types and using AI to emulate human intelligence and behavior when needed.
These tasks or workflows range from very complex to relatively simpler ones but in the end, the results offer dramatic productivity gains and business resiliency with usually quick payback.
With the end goal being to simplify work, we use advances in AI and ML technologies to further this vision to democratize access to RPA technology. For example, we enhanced IQ Bot with the ability to handle structured and unstructured data (from emails, invoices, etc.) due to advances in AI thus enabling intelligent document processing. Similarly, we use AI to understand human behavior, both to manipulate applications and to understand high-value repetitive processes. These have been among the most common asks from our customers, and also provided strong feedback which played a significant role in us developing the industry’s first cloud-native RPA platform, A2019.
We have always focused on solving problems first, with people at the center – seeing how improvements in technology can help, rather than starting with new technologies and looking for a problem to solve.
Which industries have been the fastest to identify the benefits of RPA solutions?
Industries that deal with a variety of high-volume, repeatable tasks have been the earliest adopters of RPA technology. Whether it’s streamlining invoice processing, reducing HR paperwork, or augmenting customer support, organizations utilize RPA to increase massive efficiency and unlock human creativity. Since intelligent RPA also ensures security, auditability, immediacy, and scale, it has become widely deployed in finance, healthcare, retail, and travel industries among many others.
With advances in RPA capability, security, and cloud availability, we’re seeing sectors who’ve traditionally been slower to adopt new technologies – such as governments and certain public sector organizations – quickly turn to RPA to handle the challenges posed by the pandemic and accelerate their digital transformation.
Tell us more about your recent collaboration with NHS and how the medical fraternity benefits from RPA tools and solutions?
Automation Anywhere recently partnered with Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (one of the largest teaching hospitals in the UK) to develop a flu reporting bot that tracked flu vaccinations to the hospital’s more than 14,000 employees. Based on the program’s success, the hospital network is reviewing plans to extend the technology to report on COVID-19 vaccinations.
Our flu bot has captured updates for more than 10,000 staff vaccinations across multiple clinical sites and saved nearly three months (2,000 hours) of admin time. This bot illustrates how RPA can help hospitals and the sector improve productivity and accuracy so they can maximize resources and scale critical patient care – timely with the Pfizer vaccinations rolling out in the US.
Huge fan of F1 Racing — tell us more about your distinct offerings to McLAREN F1 racing? How did the F1 racing team benefit from your solutions? Any statistics/analytics you could share with us?
In racing, every fraction of a second can mean the difference between success or failure.
Our partnership helps increase efficiency for McLaren as an organization – streamlining the myriad tasks that happen behind the scenes, outside of the track, to free the team to focus on winning races.
Additionally, Formula 1 will be implementing a cost cap in 2021.
In years past, organizations could solve problems by spending nearly as much money as possible. Now, racing teams must focus on efficiency and spend time, money, and effort wisely; this is where intelligent automation comes in. We are looking forward to the beginning of the new season.
What other distinct industries and markets are you targeting for RPA adoption?
While nearly every industry has turned to RPA for the immense efficiency it can provide, we’ve recently seen the healthcare industry benefit a lot from intelligent automation. The global health crisis has placed significant pressure on the ability of governments, health providers, and technology enterprises to quickly respond, contain, and provide treatment in combatting the virus. Healthcare systems, supply chains, and other sectors around the world have struggled to minimize the effects of COVID-19, partly because many of these systems are incredibly reliant on human input and need to scale more quickly.
Whether it is automating the paperwork required to accelerate vaccine development, augmenting telehealth options, or monitoring the administration of the first COVID-19 vaccines, healthcare will continue to embrace RPA to streamline time-intensive, manual processes to allow healthcare workers to focus their attention on bettering critical patient outcomes.
Hear it from the pro: Three distinct predictions for RPA industry 2021.
Intelligent document processing will be critical to getting work done by a “work from anywhere” workforce: “Intelligent document processing will become one of the most important tools for business success in the new normal of distributed work. Every company using RPA needs to be able to manage both structured and unstructured, data otherwise its intelligent automation system is incomplete.”
Government agencies will permanently embrace bots to scale to meet surges in demand: “Many government agencies failed to meet the sudden demand surge of COVID. I believe agencies have realized that they need to leverage bots to be better prepared for future, national-scale emergencies or calamities to streamline the ability to disperse funds, test citizens for viruses, and keep the country afloat.”
RPA bots and personal health devices mark a dramatic milestone in the future of health: “RPA, combined with advancements in health monitoring devices such as the Apple Watch, will be one of the most important technological tandems ever created. Through most of the human existence on Earth, we’ve had a very limited understanding of our body’s vital stats outside of a hospital. Now, these IoT devices can measure our vitals 24/7 and are continuing to add new measurement capabilities. While humans would be unable to parse the deluge of data and see trends across data streams, bots can do this with ease – providing unparalleled healthcare monitoring, alerting, and actionable capabilities that we are just now beginning to realize.”
Any advice to all RPA professionals in the industry who are struggling to hang on to the demands of their role?
Stay focused – whether it’s on improving every single day or trying to keep a level head both inside and outside of work. It can be easy to get discouraged in stressful times – and this year has been one of the most challenging in recent memory and tested us all. Focus on continuous incremental improvements to come out of challenges stronger, more hardened, and skilled than when you came in.
Focus attention on personal fulfillment. Try to find time to read, learn a new skill (even outside of RPA), or go for a walk to catch some sun and breath fresh air. Work is an important part of our life, but it is one component alongside many other matters in life. The pandemic has allowed us to pause and reflect on what truly matters – our families, our friends, and our physical and mental health. While this may not solve all of your challenges, I am hopeful about the perspective it provides as we reprioritize and reenergize.
Tag a person from the industry whose answers you would like to see here:
Mihir Shukla, Automation Anywhere’s CEO for his role in pioneering this technology and how he’s seen this technology advance since its inception in the early 2000s.
Thank you, Prince! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
Prince serves as chief technology officer, bringing more than two decades of experience in the technology industry. He was most recently senior vice president of engineering at ThoughtSpot, a data analytics company.
Prior to this, Prince held senior roles at Ericsson, running global R&D for all digital products with a team of more than 10,000 people and responsibilities for 92 product lines, including building large-scale cloud infrastructure and cloud-hosted management stacks.
Automation Anywhere is a global leader in Robotic Process Automation (RPA), empowering customers to automate end-to-end business processes with intelligent software bots – AI-powered digital workers that perform repetitive and manual tasks, resulting in dramatic productivity gains, optimized customer experience and more engaged employees. The company offers the world’s only web-based and cloud-native intelligent automation platform combining RPA, artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics to help organizations rapidly start and scale their automation journey from the front office to the back office to every office. Its Bot Store is the world’s first and largest marketplace with more than 1,100 pre-built, intelligent automation solutions. Automation Anywhere has deployed over 2.6 million bots to support some of the world’s largest enterprises across all industries in more than 90 countries.