11 (mostly free) resources to kick-start your Robotic Process Automation journey

In this Age of Automation, it pays to be prepared for disruptive technologies like RPA. Check out these top 11 resources to gain a head start over your peers now.


Robotic Process Automation or RPA has been making the headlines of late.


Just this past week, PwC released a report titled Will robots really steal our jobs?


According to the researchers, they have identified three waves of automation that might unfold over the next twenty years. The three waves are:


  • Wave 1 (to early 2020s): Algorithmic

  • Wave 2 (to late 2020s): Augmentation

  • Wave 3 (to mid-2030s): Autonomic


The interesting thing to note is that the percentage of existing jobs at potential risk of automation varies according to the wave we are in, from a low of three percent in Wave 1 to a high of thirty percent in Wave 3.


38% of jobs in USA could potentially be automated by Wave 3 (Source: PwC)


Against this backdrop, we think that it is important for everyone to be prepared for disruptive technologies like RPA.


However, we understand that new technologies can appear very daunting, especially to newcomers or non tech-savvy persons.


Instead of letting you sink in this vast ocean of uncharted waters, we have put together a list of the top eleven resources that can help you get started in your own RPA journey.


And the best part of it?


Most of the resources listed here are free.


Let’s get started then.


1. The RPA Bible: Your Practical & Technical Guide to RPA


This comprehensive 84-page report was published by HfS Research in collaboration with Symphony Ventures.


Accordingly to HfS Research, almost half of the RPA initiatives they studied fall short of their organizations’ expectations.


To avoid these common RPA pitfalls, this report describes an actionable set of eight elements required for successful RPA orchestration. This range from exception handling to security.


Source: HfS Research / Symphony Ventures


Update: Due to “popular demand”, this report is unfortunately no longer made available for free since 1 December 2017.


2. Burned by the bots: Why robotic automation is stumbling


Continuing on the same theme, this insightful blog post by McKinsey discusses why RPA is not the “walk in the park” that many RPA vendors made it out to be.


Though relatively short in length, this blog post is choke full of insights that leaves plenty of food for thought for the reader.


The following is my personal favourite:


“The cultural effects of bots on operators are just being discovered. For example, asking operators to program bots that could take their jobs can understandably create real personnel and morale issues at the front line.”


Make no mistakes. This blog post does not merely scratch the surface, but goes deep into the heart of what’s ailing RPA initiatives.


3. The Forrester Wave™: Robotic Process Automation, Q1 2017


Unsure which is the best Robotic Process Automation tool in the market right now?


Well, listen to the experts.


Forrester has identified twelve most significant RPA software providers and evaluated them based on 28 different criteria.


According to them, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and UiPath are the leaders in this market.


Source: Forrester

This report also highlighted that RPA is rapidly gaining interest as many enterprises are facing tremendous pressure to digitize and transform their operations.


And that governance, robotic controls and analytics are the key differentiators between the leaders and laggards in the RPA software space.


You can download a copy of this report free, courtesy of EdgeVerve.


4. UiPath


As mentioned earlier, Forrester ranked UiPath's technology as a leader in the RPA industry.


A Romanian company founded way back in 2005, UiPath is perhaps most famous within the industry for its Community Edition.


Free, fully featured and extensible, the Community Edition is lending support to UiPath’s drive to democratize RPA.


For those of you who are looking to get your hands dirty, this is the place to go. To learn more, please read How to Get Started in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Only 15 Minutes.


UiPath is also one of the pioneers to launch an open online UiPath Academy where users can attend training and get certified. Register for a free account and you can get access to a variety of e-learning courses.


5. WorkFusion


Continuing in the spirit of giving, we have WorkFusion’s RPA Express.


RPA Express is a free, enterprise-grade software that allows you to integrate core systems and automate transactions.


Yes, free as in beer.


And similar to UiPath, WorkFusion has its own Automation Academy. You can sign up for free and gain access to their online courses on RPA and AI.


6. Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence (IRPA AI)


Formerly known as Institute for Robotic Process Automation or IRPA, IRPA AI was founded in 2013. As stated in their LinkedIn description, IRPA AI is an independent professional association, and knowledge forum for the buyers, sellers, influencers and analysts of Robotic Process Automation.


Sign up for the free basic membership, and you can gain access to a ton of expert insights, including authoritative commentary, white papers, case studies, interviews and trends.


In addition, they regularly conduct webinars covering a range of key topics related to RPA.


And the best part of it all?


All the webinars are recorded and playable on demand. So you do not have to worry about missing webinars because of schedule conflicts or time zone differences.


7. Shared Services and Outsourcing Network (SSON)


SSON is an online news source for global business services executives and business leaders who leverage technology and best practices to improve operational efficiency.


As its name suggests, its key target audience is the global community of shared services and outsourcing professionals.


However, since business processing outsourcing is a key industry being disrupted by RPA, a lot of content on this website is actually related to RPA.


Similar to IRPA AI, you can subscribe for a free membership, and get access to an extensive library of reports, infographics, whitepapers, webinars and online events from the world’s foremost thought leaders.


Of note is their Intelligent Automation World Series, an online event where industry leaders and organizations share case studies and thought leadership presentations that they have pioneered in.


The next iteration is on February 12 to 15, so do register now.


Lastly, while you are still at SSON, go and download the Global Intelligent Automation Market Reports (H1 2017 and H2 2017).


These reports contain such great materials that even RPA consultants can draw reference from.


8. The Artificial intelligence & Intelligent Automation Network (AIIA Network)


AIIA Network is an online community focused on building the intelligent enterprise. Pretty much in the same vein as SSON, which is not surprising since they are both divisions of IQPC.


AIIA Network focuses on the following topics:


  • Artificial Intelligence

  • Autonomous vehicles

  • Big data

  • Cyber security

  • Digital disruption

  • Digital transformation

  • Intelligent automation

  • Machine learning

  • Robotic Process Automation

  • Robotics


What you should not miss is the AI Network Podcast series. It features in-depth conversations with industry leaders, many of whom work in Fortune 500 organizations and are RPA practitioners themselves.


Sprinkled throughout these podcasts are nuggets of thought-provoking and practical wisdom gleaned through real-life experiences with RPA implementations.


For organizations looking to embark on their RPA journey, these podcasts will definitely help to cut short your own learning curve.


9. Service Automation: Robots and the Future of Work

10. Robotic Process Automation and Risk Mitigation: The Definitive Guide

11. Robotic Process and Cognitive Automation: The Next Phrase


These trilogy of authoritative books is written by renowned experts Dr. Leslie P. Willcocks and Dr. Mary C. Lacity.


Dr. Willcocks is Professor in Technology Work and Globalization at the Department of Management at London School of Economics and Political Science. He also heads the LSE’s Outsourcing Unit research centre.


Dr. Lacity is Curators’ Distinguished Professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a Visiting Scholar at MIT CISR.


The first book, Service Automation, distils a year of empirical learning about service automation. The findings were based on survey, in-depth client case studies, and interviews with various industry stakeholders.


Some of the key content covered include:

  • Different types of automation

  • Empirical evidence of business benefits

  • Numerous in-depth case studies

  • Thirty key lessons on deploying service automation in workplace

  • Predictions and critique on the Future of Work


The second book, Robotic Process Automation and Risk Mitigation, is a sequel to the first one. In this book, the authors pioneered the concept of a “triple win” from RPA – a win for shareholders, customers and employees.


The book acknowledges that automation is fraught with risks that need to be mitigated. In response, the book introduces a framework of thirty key risk mitigation practices that all organizations will find useful, regardless of which stage of the RPA journey they are in.



The third book, Robotic Process and Cognitive Automation, will be published on 12 February 2018. Given the buzz around Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and the shift away from Robotic Process Automation towards Intelligent Automation, this is one book that we are all eager awaiting for.


Bonus


As a bonus to our loyal readers, we are giving away two copies of the book Robotic Process Automation and Risk Mitigation: The Definitive Guide.


Simply click on the link below to submit your particulars for this lucky draw. Contest ends on 22 February 2018.


Good automating.


Are there any other (free) RPA resources which you think should have made it to this list? Please drop us your comments below.


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