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  • Tricks
  • artificial intelligence
  • digital transformation

Opto Sessions

UiPath’s Brandon Deer on how corporations can leverage AI

Brandon Deer, chief strategy officer of UiPath, joined Opto Sessions to discuss the secret sauce of the RPA software house’s products. With AI and automation being ever-hotter topics, Deer spoke about what makes UiPath’s offering stand out, as well as why he doesn’t feel that the technology will displace human jobs in the long term. 

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW:

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- UiPath builds RPA tools for business process automation.
- There are three layers to its product: practice-oriented processes, ‘bring your own model’, and third-party integrations.

- UiPath reported a 30% increase in ARR in Q4 2023.

Brandon Deer is the founder of Crew Capital and chief strategy officer of UiPath [PATH], a software house that develops robotic process automation (RPA) technology.

Deer started his career at Intuit [INTU], the developer of products like QuickBooks, where he started out building a payment gateway application programming interface. From there, Deer’s desire to work in a smaller environment led him to join venture capital (VC) firm OpenView in order to cut through what he saw as the noise in the software industry at the time.

After initiating investments in several innovative software companies, including JumpCloud and Pipefy, Deer co-founded Crew Capital together with Daniel Dines in 2020, having joined UiPath two years previously. 

According to UiPath’s website, RPA is a branch of software “that makes it easy to build, deploy and manage software robots that emulate human actions interacting with digital systems and software”. The technology can streamline workflows and take on mundane tasks, thereby saving organisations and their employees time, energy, and costs.

Take, for example, moving information between documents. This is a repetitive task that almost every white-collar professional will perform countless times during a working week. UiPath’s Clipboard AI product automates the process of manually copying and pasting information between locations, enabling entire documents to be pasted from one format to another, with AI technology ascertaining what kind of information needs to go into which field. 

Imagine taking data fields out of any sort of document,” Deer told Opto Sessions, “doing a CTRL+C copy, and then being able to paste all that data semantically into a new application.

“It saves a lot of time for people.”

Having been founded in 2005, the company came into its own thanks to a convergence of three market trends during the middle of the last decade. 

According to Deer, the first of these was related to process. Business process outsourcing contractors had become better at documenting processes for their clients, “some of the largest organisations and enterprises on the planet.

“This effectively gave a blueprint for where automation could be most fruitful.”

 The second trend was the cheap computing power available at the end of what Deer calls the AI winter” in 2015. “It led to massive amounts of data,” says Deer. “There was kind of this AI awakening.”

Lastly, UiPath itself hit a level of technological maturity at the right time. “Computer vision is a highly complex technological challenge, which took a long time to develop.

“We were really coming to a point of maturity in terms of enterprise scalability and security, and got our messaging down. We had all of these things come together, and it just worked really well.” 

“There was kind of this AI awakening.

Three layers of AI

Clipboard AI is an example of what Deer calls “practice-oriented” AI, meaning AI applied in a very specific use case.

However, he says there are two further layers which differentiate UiPath: ‘bring your own model’ and third-party integration.

Many of UiPath’s clients have their own in-house data science teams working on AI models of their own. “You want to let your customers have the power of choice,” says Deer. “So we allow them to bring their own models into our studio, have our robots push that data to their models. The models can make a decision based on whatever logic they’re using, and we can execute that decision based on their models.”

In terms of third-party integration, UiPath has a long-established pattern of collaborating with other tech houses. For example, the software integrates fully with cloud services from Google [GOOGL] and features end-to-end RPA integration with AWS from Amazon [AMZN].

The business case

In its fourth quarter 2023 results, released in March, UiPath announced a 30% year-over-year increase in annual recurring revenue (ARR, a metric of subscription revenue used by SaaS companies).

“We have approximately 200+ customers that are paying us north of a million dollars per year,” Deer told Opto Sessions. “We have something like 1,000 business payments over $100,000. In ARR, we have a very long tail of early companies that have come into our product suite trying to think through all the innovative ways that they can get leverage out of [our platform].”

Deer attributes the company’s competitive moat, first and foremost, to the expertise the company has developed in its field since its inception.

We've become subject matter experts in our domain automation,” says Deer. He adds that the experience of working alongside organisations such as the US government, as well as in heavily regulated industries like banking and healthcare, has further equipped the company with deep expertise.

“We’ve been able to cater to some of the most sophisticated organisations in the world.” 

Additionally, partnerships with third parties have helped secure UiPath a competitive edge. Its partnerships with PwC and Accenture [ACN] are examples of these.

“We have fantastic relationships with those organisations, very strong shared customer bases, skin in the game in terms of making our customers jointly successful.

It’s a great statement of trust and validation, when the people who are out there pushing your messaging and embracing what you do are also leveraging internally. That’s a total force multiplier for us.”

We've become subject matter experts in our domain — automation.

Workforce woes

One of the hottest questions around AI and automation in the current environment is the risk it poses to employment levels.  

Deer doesn’t view this as a long-term problem, though. “Over the course of a century, it’s been proven that technology does not reduce jobs, but actually breeds new and higher-value jobs.

“I think the same is true with automation and AI. If used appropriately, it will enhance customer experiences, it will enhance employee experiences, and it will give people the opportunity to actually focus on more creative, strategic and fulfilling aspects of their jobs.”

“I think the same is true with automation and AI. If used appropriately, it will enhance customer experiences, it will enhance employee experiences, and it will give people the opportunity to actually focus on more creative, strategic and fulfilling aspects of their jobs.

For more ways to listen:

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Listen to the full interview and explore our past episodes on Opto Sessions. You can also check out all our episodes via our YouTube Channel.

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