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Automation Anywhere’s automation with a human feel

Automation Anywhere’s automation with a human feel

Originally posted by David Swan @ theaustralian.com.au

Robotics and artificial intelligence firm Automation Anywhere has raised one of the largest Series A rounds on record for an enterprise software company, attracting $US250 million ($337m), giving it a valuation of $US1.8 billion.

It’s money that chief executive Mihir Shukla says will be directed in part towards Australia, as his company looks to shift workers Down Under on to more “human” tasks, letting robots do the rest.

Mr Shukla told The Australian he founded the company in 2003 after leading a number of multi-billion-dollar company exits, and observing that modern enterprise companies were drowning in legacy systems and were overloaded with data and manual processes.

“Traditional automation processes weren’t sufficient to automate all of them,” he said.

“We needed a new tool, a new approach that could solve the problem.

“Fourteen years ago, we conceived this idea that if there was some general purpose software — a bot — we could teach that bot anything and it could simulate human behaviour.”

Automation Anywhere’s bot is now at the point where the company claims it has one of the world’s largest workforces —
it has delivered more than 650,000 digital workers, and expects to have about three million in businesses by 2020.

Those digital workers are slowly building a presence across Australia, with big companies such as ANZ and Australia Post deploying them to do mundane tasks to free up human workers.

“We haven’t been in the country that long,” says Automation Anywhere’s executive vice-president for Asia-Pacific and Japan, Adrian Jones. “It’s been a bit over a year. Australia is leading in adoption in technologies like cloud and software-as-a-service, and we’re seeing a really large opportunity with so many companies starting to automate.

“We’ll be expanding rapidly in Australia. The use cases are endless for us across many different verticals, so we’ll be scaling and expanding as quickly as we can.”

Much is made of robots displacing workers, with NAB for example cutting 6000 jobs and replacing them with automation.

According to Mr Shukla however, automation is about “pulling the robot out of people”, and that doesn’t necessarily mean job cuts.

“People want to work with a company that is cutting edge, not old-fashioned,” he said.

“Humans and bots working side-by-side can do more.

“When ANZ began to deploy robotic technology, it received three times more job
applicants.”

He said the definition of work itself was changing, just as hundreds of years ago gardening was considered work but today people think of it as a hobby.

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