Industry News, Predicting Future State and Robot Profiling

Mark and Brent dig into the latest news in the RPA space.  With fundraising happening left and right, what will that mean for the RPA space in general.  We gaze into the crystal ball and make some initial predictions.  Also, Mark talks about the new open-source robot-profiler project that is a power tool for understanding the environment that your bots run on.  

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Industry News, Predicting Future State and Robot Profiling


Brent Sanders, Mark Percival

Brent Sanders  00:02

Hey, it's Brent, in this episode of the podcast, Mark and I will go into current events in the RPA space. The It's automic to formulate a name change, and some future predictions on where the RPA wars are heading. Thanks for listening. And without further ado, let's jump into the conversation. Let's talk about the rebrand. So we are now calling the podcast, the Formulated Automation Podcast. So, we've changed the name of the website, the newsletter, podcast, everything to be consistent with formulated, its atomic name ends up there were a couple conflicts one, there was a registered trademark in the space. So, we kind of wanted to split away from that as well as coming up with our own brand. Right?

Mark Percival  00:50

Yeah, there's some debate whether or not that trademark is still being used, there's a fairly large company that owns it, but obviously, doesn't really matter. They own the trademark, and whether or not the software or the company has been rolled into another one, they are still ultimately the owners of that trademark and rather than get six months down the road, and, you know, come to find out that they're gonna go in and force it, rather just get a new name.

Brent Sanders  01:11

Yeah, I mean, there was a little bit of confusion if you ever went to our old site for its atomic, a lot of this, the podcasts and all the sort of resources we put together have been spawned from this idea of building a product that Mark and I have been working on and piloting. But it's kind of taken on a life of its own, we wanted to separate it from that idea in that, you know, whole whole ball of wax where you go to a website that's, you know, got a podcast and some resources, but also was trying to schedule a demo, it was a little confusing. So we've, we've split that off. That's a separate project and our passion for exposing you know, the latest news, code, thought, podcast, everything related to you know, Business Process Automation RPA that's all located at formulated and we now have this new cool logo, you know, it looks like an F1 Racing team or something. But bright red simple sights a lot faster, right? We just have articles and we're not really trying to do anything else. So if you haven't yet check out And you'll see kind of the podcast, the thought blog posts, news.

Mark Percival  02:30

Weekly newsletter up there, right, kind of a one stop shop for all the content around RPA.

Brent Sanders  02:36

Exactly, you can see all of our interviews, and we hope to keep it growing. One thing that I wanted to do is uh, you know, invite people to, to reach out as well. I mean, we do a lot of promotion on LinkedIn and Twitter. But I've also set up the formulated RPA Twitter handle and have been randomly following anybody with RPA in their account trying to get some followers but that should be like the the ideal channel if you have feedback about the shows, know somebody that we should talk to, if we're missing something about the RPA space or the automation space in general. Love to hear about it from the audience. We have listeners, we know we have listeners, so

Mark Percival  03:20

they're out there. They're out there. Yeah, automating themselves out of a job.

Brent Sanders  03:23

Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So in this episode, I think we wanted to announce that maybe we'll go with some new theme music. I think the only feedback I have had is I think somebody thought our theme music was a tad bit scary. Which I think is just dating ourselves. That originally the joke there was that was the theme from part of the theme from short circuit.

Mark Percival  03:48

The amazing 80s movie I was gonna go with awful but yeah,

Brent Sanders  03:51

Awful 80s movie with Steve Guttenberg, and Johnny five, the robot. So we thought that was kind of a cute tongue in cheek thing, but maybe we'll go with some more appealing. Not so jarring or scary. Theme music in the future. But in the meantime, let's go over some news. What's been going on in the space? We haven't really done a news episode.

Mark Percival  04:15

Yeah, it's been a while. Yeah, we've got about four weeks or so I guess since we've done any kind of news. And in that four weeks, not not a ton of change. But there has been having a few feature a fairly large, I guess, acquisitions, fundings, that kind of thing. You know, obviously, they're still everybody's still in the same place. It's still, you know, kind of UI Path is, seems to be at the top and the automation anywhere in blue prism. But the big piece of news, I think, was soft, emotive who's makes when automation. They were acquired by Microsoft. And so I think that put a little bit of fear into the players out there that Microsoft is going to get more involved in the RPA space. 

Brent Sanders  04:53

Yeah. And so when automation, you know, I've never used it, but in looking at the site and looking at the product, it seems great. I mean, it seems like Microsoft is obviously a natural fit for them. And I wonder if the software is going to become even more potent, right.

Mark Percival  05:08

So, you know, looking back at their history that they've been around since 2005, I think, primarily for desktop automation. So less of an enterprise play, more of a, you know, install it on your own desktop and start automating. Definitely local low code. And so you kind of see that, that was the path earlier on, you saw a lot of this other RPA tools as well was, it really was sort of a local tool that people would install on their desktop, and then the enterprise market kind of became a, you know, a trend, the enterprises buying into an RPA platform and starting to do this on a larger scale. When automation did actually release their own RPA tool in 2016, that was geared towards enterprises. But typically, their strong point has been, it's very easy to start, it's a great tool for like a proof of concept. If you wanted to start building RPA, if you wanted to start, if you were in a if you're in a business, and you just said, Hey, I want to get a shot at automating something, when automation kind of played a pivotal role in that rather than saying, hey, when automate something, let me go to my CIO and try to convince them to buy into a huge platform.

Brent Sanders  06:11

Yeah, it's funny, this software reminds me the most of and I'm gonna go kind of off the deep end on the technical side, but Ansible, which is or Ansible, I'm not sure how people say, but the it automation software that you can, you can run to, you know, provision servers, and it's, it has this concept of playbooks that it looks like that's how a lot of the processes are organized. And I mean, a lot of automation kind of has similar notions, right, the way we organize, okay, we need these, these high level tasks to be coordinated together. But it reminds me that just looking at some of the screenshots, and I would love to check it out, I think it'd be really interesting to see what it's going to be like, you know, now current state, and then what the next version is going to be like, and I'm wondering, you know, looking at some of the other players in the space that have more of the, I would say, visual based editors, right, where there's a mix of dragging and dropping things or connecting dots and VB script or, you know, other scripting languages, JavaScript, what have you, and sort of combining these two things to create sort of like the entry level, mid level, and you can kind of fall back to code if you need to, with something that's just a little bit more forms based, right. And, you know, the UI actually, I think matters when you look at these RPA tools, I think there's something to be said for, like how the creators of each set of software, think about their users think about the solutions. And I'm really eager to see what Microsoft does to the software or if it changes.

Mark Percival  07:41

Yeah, I think UI Path and automation anywhere also very eager to see what happens

Brent Sanders  07:47

Yes, I'm sure. I am sure. Good point. So speaking of UI Path, it looks like they are in talks to raise capital. As of earlier this week? 

Mark Percival  07:57

Yeah, these guys are looking to raise another. What is it? You know, I don't know, the actual amount. I think the floated valuation was 10 billion. Well, they were raising in April of last year at 7 billion. So things are looking up, they're certainly headed in the right direction. You know, I think that a lot of this is comes down to building a war chest for the things like the Microsoft acquisition, where you actually don't know what's going to happen. So you kind of want to start taking capital when it's available. I think you're seeing UI Path I believe that some layoffs are they're kind of cutting costs. So there's definitely a trend in the market towards cutting costs, getting ready to kind of do battle. This is anything I think you would see typically anytime there's the competition is heating up in a space. And so it makes total sense, you've seen blue prism as well, they've had certainly had their share of some layoffs and cutting costs, sorry, cutting costs, they have had their stock have been a little bit in the dumps recently. I think people are just not as convinced that they're going to be able to meet their cash flow, positive metric that they place for themselves. And 2021 doesn't look like well, maybe they can do it, but it seems a bit aggressive now. And so there's some skepticism that these companies are going to be able to get to where they want to be or where they claim they were going to be a year ago, especially given COVID-19 throwing a wrench in the works.

Brent Sanders  09:16

Yeah, and you say throwing a wrench in the works. However, for an automation company, you think that would be sort of a boon, you know, a gift that, you know, not many other companies could capitalize on. I mean, I'm not sure how the market responds to that from more of, you know, the sort of sentiment aspect of public markets but

Mark Percival  09:35

It's certainly been in the marketing docs for all of them that this is somehow COVID-19 I think that was partially a very positive spin on their part of Hey, you know, I know the market is going down, but we're actually gonna make money on it because of, you know, COVID-19 actually makes it more likely that you'll want to automate and that is true to some extent, but there is built into the day look, customers are, are while they might be looking at automation, there's still an investment there that has to be made for them to go into the automation space to actually make an investment into a platform. And right now, you know, I think companies are eyeing that, but they're probably not pulling the trigger that quickly. And obviously things are kind of in limbo. And as I think it's, you know, if you look at, just look at the VC market right now, and you talk about, the people are getting funding, but it's just a different market, it's it's things are moving more slowly, you're not there in person. So imagine rolling out if you're a fortune 500 now. No one's in the office and trying to actually get an agreement on what, you know, automation platform to use over a zoom meeting. Right. 

Brent Sanders  10:34

Right. Right. And, you know, speaking of venture capital, I think, you know, unrelated to RPA, but related to venture capital is, I just saw that the US decided to roll back certain restrictions, so big banks can now go into the LP game, they can invest in venture capital markets. I think I saw that yesterday, if you heard anything about this,

Mark Percival  10:56

You know, I heard something briefly about it, but I haven't had a chance to read into it.

Brent Sanders  10:59

So you think if that's the case, you know, assuming I'm correct, and I'll have to, you know, check my sources here. But I believe this was the Volcker Volcker Rule. I saw an article around it, and I just was thinking like, it makes sense why they, they made banks not be able to do that, right. It's like a, you know, it's an asset class of its own, but it is part of a, you know, a balanced portfolio. I mean, listeners may know, Mark and I both worked briefly at a venture fund, and, you know, have experienced with that space, and you know, if anybody knows what it's like to work at a venture capital fund, you're in service of the LPs, they are the people that are putting money into the fund your fundraising from the LPs, and they are, you know, the top of the food chain, so to speak, when it comes to the venture capital game. So if banks like Chase, and other large institutions are getting back into the VC game, you would think that there will be more available LP money and more, in turn more available, or maybe similarly available. VC money, but who knows? You know, that's a

Mark Percival  12:03

Yeah. Well, I'm not worried because there's it's impossible to lose money in venture capital.

Brent Sanders  12:10

With another out there.

Mark Percival  12:11

Yeah it seems like a totally safe bet for my money in my checking account.

Brent Sanders  12:15

Yeah, no, I meant to say, Mark worked at Soft Bank. I worked at a different fund. Yeah.

Mark Percival  12:22

No, I mean, I think that makes sense. I there's gonna be a lot more money in the market, then. If that's the case, if that certainly will open things up. I think you're seeing you're already seeing a lot of investment in the later stages, less venture and more just fall around? I don't know, I wouldn't call it venture, right. If you're taking money for if you're throwing money at UI Path. Now, a $10 billion valuation, that is a large LP of financial institution that's kind of rolling that kind of capital around. So I think I think in this case, if the banks, it'd be nice to see the banks are able to kind of push into more of the early stage extremely risky space, with this new easing of the rule.

Brent Sanders  12:59

Yeah, I don't see them making seed investments. I don't see them. Yeah, getting into series A's for series a, you know, investments. It's a good point. I mean, and looking at the UiPath investment, you could see around of an unknown size, but at a valuation of 10 billion being led by more institutional investors. So it makes sense. But, you know, in other fundraising news, this was from I think, two weeks ago, but talking about raised an $18 million series A,

Mark Percival  13:28

I know about them. I still in one of those great companies did you kind of okay, they, they they have a lot of marketing speak, and it's hard to dial into what they actually do, I think, from what I got from the I, whenever I see these companies, I usually just go to YouTube, but sometimes it's actually easier to see what they're doing when you actually see videos of it. And in jiffies case, a lot of OCR, and I think this is you're seeing this trend across the board, which is a lot of companies that are focused on the OCR angle of the automation space, which is typically in ingesting data, right? It's sure you're doing loan processing and a bank. And so somebody sends you their pay stub, and you need to get that paste up into the system and type it in and that process gets automated, you just dump it into some tool. It imports all their correct fields from their pay stub because they've had some you know, they use some OCR OCR package from a company that specializes in just getting that kind of data. And Jiffy kinda seems to basically fall into that same bucket. Although, again, if you read the marketing speak, it's like they do everything right there. They allow their companies to hyper automate. And it's not very clear, but then when you actually dial into it, I think it's, again, very focus on the data ingestion piece.

Brent Sanders  14:41

And that seems to be a you know, the big players in the space that we've seen, ... is probably the one I've heard the most positive feedback from in the trenches. But Microsoft Azure, they also I've actually played with their API a couple weeks back is just, you know, seeing what it's like to throw invoices in there. What do you get back in it? It's good, but not great, right? It's not I mean, in terms of what my, Sorry, I keep getting a phone call. But sorry, let me finish that thought. And I'll have to edit this. But it's an interesting API. And that, you know, it does a good job of turning data into, or turning images into data. But it's a matter of like, okay, the relationships and invoicing. 

Mark Percival  15:28

Yeah, it's so hard to, to kind of, there's a lot of OCR packages out there. And there's a lot that are on the platforms like AWS and Azure. And they're great. But again, it's not just, it's not just understanding the letters, but actually understanding you know, what they are and where, what they mean. So knowing that line and particular on a pay stub is there, you know, federal withholding is, versus their salary is all kind of the trick there. And it makes sense that somebody would come around and specialize in that, because obviously, there's only so many payroll companies out there, so you don't really have to do, you know, a ton of work. But obviously, if you're a financial institution, you really just want to pay somebody who is to who can be that expert actually build that software, and you just rely on it knowing it's going to bring in, you know, 99% of the documents you need to process for, say loan processing accurately. 

Brent Sanders  16:15

Yeah, yeah. So an interesting space. And I think it's, that is, that is definitely where the evolution you're going to see breakthroughs in that space will unlock, you know, so much more potential if you you know, you can rely on structured data, you can rely on some heuristic of, you know, the invoice problems, a challenge when I was looking at this, from, you know, how do you take a bunch of different invoices from a bunch of different payers, and turn them into data, that it's all consistent. And that's a great, an interesting problem to work on when one approach is, I think, is an open source project about this is basically a giant collection of invoices, where people have, like, mapped out where the different fields are. So it's just templates, right? So you have templates, and that's a common way of doing it. I think that is one of the more realistic ways of doing it. Because you know, there's a finite number for most businesses have finite number of invoices, and you're gonna only automate the ones that you are, you know, collecting on a weekly or monthly basis. Anyways, very, very interesting space, and I'm excited to see it grow. I mean, I think that's realistically what we're gonna see the funding do is push the innovation, push the envelope and each of these different domains, and I do think that it's going to be we talked about purpose built RPA. I think that's where I think players are gonna do really well, they're gonna pick one problem and just be an expert at that, and the tools will start getting kind of combined.

Mark Percival  17:42

Yeah, I think that's safe. What else do we have? We have? Just looking through our list of things we published? I do, we got a one interesting article was the Department Defense, one of their agencies did something like 82 bots that they created in the last year.

Brent Sanders  18:01


Mark Percival  18:02

Yeah. You know, the problem with this is that they never really give the details. It's always like, and I'm assuming because it's the Department of Defense, they really won't give the details. But, you know, it's always interesting to see sort of these articles about something, especially I, you know, we look at government agencies in the US at least, and we kind of imagined them to be fairly slow. But these are cases where they're actually, you know, being innovative and going in and automating a lot of, you know, laborious tasks. They claim they've saved 200,000 labor hours that this year alone. And then they are applying it deploying an average of 1.5 RPA bots a week. 

Brent Sanders  18:39

Wow, wow. I bet I wonder if we can file a FOIA request to get details on that.

Mark Percival  18:44

You know, it might just take a while. It's the Defense Logistics. This is a Defense Logistics Agency, which is basically like the Pentagon's UPS. This is like the group that basically essentially puts things on plan to make sure they get in different areas.

Brent Sanders  18:58

Wow. Wow, no joking matter. Yeah, they are the real deal.

Mark Percival  19:03

Yeah, I can't imagine trying to organize remotely large org. I think like, I don't know the number but the number is, let me pause out. Because they're crazy. It's crazy, fast, crazy, big events. Here we go. Defense Logistics Agency 26,000 employees. Whilst we're shipping stuff around for the for basically for the Pentagon.

Brent Sanders  19:28

It makes sense.

Mark Percival  19:29

Yeah, so this is, this is always I think the interesting part, when we do the weekly newsletter, I kind of go through and look through all these articles, news or news articles about RPA and what I end up finding is 90% of merchants marketing Bs, it's just like, you know, press releases, right, all written by the company. And then every so often, you find some interesting stuff where it's not a it's not a press release. It's just it's just a interesting article from you know, a magazine like this one was from fed scoop, which actually does some printers interesting stuff. And, you know, kind of talking about what, how people are using RPA? Because I think, because of the fact that it's so much, there's so much marketing around it, it's hard to kind of, it's hard to kind of separate the craft from like, the real, real articles out there, what, what's actually going on in the market space, because there's a lot of claims up, you know, this group did this, or this group did that and save X amount of hours. But you kind of have to, you know, take it with a grain of salt.

Brent Sanders  20:26

Yeah, it's very interesting. I mean, maybe that should be our, I would love to talk to somebody from the DLA. See if, you know, they, they would be interested in getting a podcast we great. It sounds like there's a 20 person team, which just kind of shows, you know, when you're I'd imagine, this is totally guessed. But I'd love to find out more like the legacy systems that the government has, you know, things that you have to do to work around manual tasks that you can just RPA away, right, it's just turn those things. So yeah, I'm looking at the same article, which is linked from the new Site under news. 

Mark Percival  21:02

But yeah, it's, that's, it's amazing, right, like 20 people, you know, this, that that's the thing that at least excites me about RPA is that you have this opportunity where such a small team can actually make such a huge, huge impact on efficiency.

Brent Sanders  21:18

Yeah, yeah. It's interesting. Cool, I think that's probably it for news. I mean, is there any other? Are there any other articles that you're jazzed about?

Mark Percival  21:28

No, it was all it was all funding, it was all funding. Everybody's everybody's building their war chest for the future, which is great, I think, look, the great part about all this is that the more competition we have in the space, the look, it's just gonna get cheaper and cheaper. And, you know, we're probably at a place where, you know, maybe, I think we're probably the place where we're seeing the prices, probably the highest they'll, they'll be and then coming down quickly, because right now, I'm still kind of shocked anytime I so it's easy to talk to a medium or small sized company, I think you and I have dealt with this where you go into a company that's not a fortune 50 or fortune 500. And you mentioned the prices for these licenses, especially when it comes into the automation or sorry, orchestration space, it's very daunting to just talk start tossing, because it's not just the price of licenses, it's everything that goes along with it, it's it's the, the service contracts and getting things implemented, the cost of building it, you know, outsourcing, that. These are all things that I think are barely hard for me in businesses to get a handle on. And so the more competition in the space, I think it's going to be great for, especially for the medium sized businesses.

Brent Sanders  22:34

And this is my prediction, if I'm looking at the crystal ball, I think we're going to start to see, like a split where you have the platforms become free. And the real investment on more like, was like Jiffy, we were just talking about these, like, really niche domain, we're going deep on the science and really figure out some sort of visual recognition system. And I think that's where you're gonna see a split as the, the RPA, sort of editor, I don't know what, how would you call it just like the UI Path studio. So right, like the ability to write and create bots, I think will become free over time,

Mark Percival  23:11

I think it's likely and I definitely think you're gonna see me Look, look where everybody makes their money right now on the platforms from a developer angle. If you're AWS or Azure, you're paying for some kind of by the minute process, or you're paying example, with the OCR, you're paying per document, right? I think that's makes a lot more sense than just some flat fee for Hey, if you want the opportunity to do this, you have to pay this much per month, versus just by the hour cost. 

Brent Sanders  23:40

I think that's where, what was the AWS machine learning platform? I think I took a course in it. And you called it a, you coined it perfectly. You were like, it's just like Excel, but you pay by the hour.

Mark Percival  23:51

Yeah. It's I always found is from myself, as a developer, what I always found jarring about AWS was I would launch something, I would build something for an API endpoint. And then I would run it and it would cost me money. Like it would like directly deduct money out of my account. And, you know, it just kind of get this idea like I you know, I pay for Salesforce, and like I'm built, I built some API keys, I run it like, it's fine. I pay some annual fee. But there's a point where you kind of there's a jarring point where you're, you're hitting and you hit enter on the command line. And then there's like $10, like bye $10.

Brent Sanders  24:25

Yeah, I mean, it was Amazon Sage maker, right? So it was this, you know, you can run your machine learning and you train your models, and it's literally, you're paying by the minute and you're not paying, it's not cheap, right? It's I think, if you have to think about if your models and your data are generally pretty large.

Mark Percival  24:43

Yeah. That's why it really fast. I mean, that's the thing that I think, you know, we can talk about the cost, the competition, bringing the prices down. But ultimately, it is interesting that when you start going to these models where it's by the hour, it's really easy to kind of underestimate how much you're going to spend and it's nice because in the beginning, you actually don't spend that much right. In the beginning, it's like Heroku Oh, I have this instance, it's very cheap $20. But then it starts to add up as you start getting more. And, you know, as you start basically coming to depend on the platform, you start to put more and more things on it. And then pretty soon into that bill is actually meaningful. But the hope is that there's not this bridge where I'm paying a lot of money for not a lot of utility. Hopefully, by the time I'm paying, you know, 2000 10,000 $20,000 a month or more, I'm getting a lot for it in return, because I got it there was a ramp up gave me a chance to kind of see what I'm getting in return, versus having to make that expenditure and be like, I'm gonna spend $20,000 a month but I hope it works. That's the difference when you have that pay, you know, that that pay by the hour model? Yeah.

Brent Sanders  25:45

And it's always always fun working with AWS, trying to figure out your your calculations for pricing, you basically need.

Mark Percival  25:52

This is all they do. They just don't. Nobody else is gonna be.

Brent Sanders  25:58

It is hard. You definitely need machine learning to figure what machine learning, it's gonna be. Yeah. Oh, man. No, it's, uh, it, I think that's where the space is gonna go, you know, going back to RP, I think it's gonna be the tools to build the bots are free, and then the tools to run them and orchestrate them and make them do difficult tasks, just like skilled labor, you know, it's the same thing.

Mark Percival  26:22

And I think the thing that comes out of that, though, and it's the same thing that came out a lot open sources, it wasn't that, you know, open source and make everything free. But it did actually democratize access to it. And so you saw people kind of, yeah, I think the issue now with RPA, is, it's hard, it's kind of hard to get started on it, right, and you can now look wicked, there's a ton of YouTube videos, how to get started on it. But to be honest, like, it's still it's still paying to get started on it, there's a learning curve is massive. And it's not that the learning curve naturally that goes down, but certainly the content and as people start figuring this out, it does actually get a little bit easier when you start you know, there's more people in your office that know how to use it, there's more people online telling you how to use it, it's getting easier to use, it's not a matter of, it's very simple to sign up for and start something very small as a proof of concept on your own, and then kind of grow from there. And so I think you'll see the same thing here, which is I think tools will get better. But I also think it just is it starts to go more into the marketplace. You know, the one thing I'm a big believer in is I don't think this legacy software is going away. It's gonna stick around for a long time. It's fair. And you know, we're always building more legacy software behind it. So I think the more tools we have, or the average, you know, just every employee in a company to start using and start getting involved in RPA, the better.

Brent Sanders  27:32

Do you want to talk about your the project, you're working on the open source? You know, it's related to robot framework, it's meant to be used, but it's, it's a concept that works on you know, we've looked at doing it on UI Path, we've looked at doing it on a couple of different platforms?

Mark Percival  27:46

Well, you know, I think the main issue that as, again, coming at this from the software side, the issue you kind of see with a lot of this automation, is, it's hard to know the state of the machine you're running on. And if you look at Ansible, and all the other DevOps tools out there, the entire thing they're trying to solve is just how to make sure that the state is the same every single time, right? It's just putting me into the same position, I want all my tools the same, I don't want to if something gets upgraded, I want to know about it, or I want to have some programmatic way to debug or figure out what changed, right. And when you're working in automation, the hard part is really that because you're running on different systems, and it's hard to, it's hard to build that same kind of state management of saying, Hey, this is gonna be a Windows machine running this running this and running Excel. And there's the exact same version, right? There's gonna be an update for security reasons. But you know, it's, that's the whole process of updating Windows machines, or any machine that's a desktop machine, or even in the server is actually pretty difficult. And so a lot of our DevOps tooling revolves around just trying to organize that, and getting comfortable with that. And so really, what I've struggled with and implementing projects on UI path, and the rest is there's no easy way to say, Well, I expect this to be there. And if it's not there, then I want to fail. A lot of times, what I really just want to do is I just want to know, to start what is actually there. So how do I do that? What's installed on the system? How does this system configured? That's every piece that I want to have available to me as a developer. So when I look at something that failed, I want to be able to see what changed in that system from the successful run to failure run. And so taking a stab at building and we've got a you know, alpha version, that will be out later today, it's on GitHub is all open source that basically profiles your machine gives you a list of everything that's installed current versions of things like Excel, Outlook, Dotnet, and then puts the puts that into an output file that you can go through and diff compared to another to another run. But the goal here is really how can we essentially when we go into when we talk to somebody who's doing an automation and they're doing some automation on Windows, and they've built this automation that runs on Outlook, and does some task with Excel. How do we after we run that, take a tally of what the machine, how the machine was configured. So the next time we run in it fails, we can kind of compare those two machines. And that's really where we're pushing that.

Brent Sanders  30:13

Yeah, wouldn't it be nice to know is like, I've run a fan a handful of automation? Is it? AWS workspaces? Right? You have like a Yeah, Windows box. on AWS workspaces. You have Windows box, it's a nice environment where things are going to be the same between runs. But would it be nice knowing that like, okay, something got updated on it, like, understanding what that is in removing some of the anxiety of, Okay, now we have a transition day, we have to allocate resources. And we don't really have the perspective, we don't have like the information of what exactly changed, because that's going to be the, you're going to start your root cause analysis, and you're going to need to know that. And as soon as you know it, you can kind of pinpoint, okay, different UIs different, you know, underlying software. That's your bots running on it. If that stuff changes, it can cause havoc.

Mark Percival  31:05

Yeah, man, I think the the general gist is just, you know, how can you get more information about about your runs and about the systems are running on and the more information you have the better and I think, right now in the automation space, it's it's pretty easy to it's, it's an easy to overlook?

Brent Sanders  31:21

Yeah. Very cool. Well, I'm excited to see it. And so to check it out, it will be running in concert with robot framework. Right. So that's the open source RPA tool that we got introduced to from Antti from Robocorp.

Mark Percival  31:36

Yep, starting off in that. But obviously, the goal is that this is a tool that can be profiled on any machine. So yeah, your building integration, UI Path and automation anywhere, it doesn't matter. This will give you an idea of what that machine started at, what the state is, and now and then, you know, the future changed.

Brent Sanders  31:52

Which is so cool. Yeah, it's gonna, I can easily see that being a standard tool for any machine. There's really no downside to collecting that information. Cool. That'll do it for this week's formulated automation podcast. Stay tuned for future episodes. We're looking forward to having some new guests that were lining up. And yeah, keeping you informed as to what's actually going on in the RPA world. 

Mark Percival  32:20


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