Interview with Anders Jensen

In this episode of the podcast, we chat with Anders Jensen an RPA Developer and author of the Anders Jensen RPA YouTube Channel. Anders has an interesting back story, coming from the world of online poker. We chat through his evolution into a full-time automation career and the growth of his fantastic YouTube channel.

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Interview with Anders Jensen

• 1:02:39

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

rpa, automation, poker, videos, build, people, autohotkey, problem, online poker, hear, play, company, podcast, tool, automating, job, industry, thought, framework, bots

SPEAKERS

Mark Percival, Brent Sanders, Anders Jensen


Brent Sanders  00:03

On this episode of podcast, we chat with Anders Jensen, an RPA, developer and author of the Anders Jensen and RPA YouTube channel. Anders says it's interesting backstory coming from the world of online poker. We chat through his evolution into a full time automation career, and the growth this fantastic YouTube channel. Thanks for listening. So, Anders, thanks so much for joining us. We found you through YouTube, you have a prolific channel around RPA development, maybe you could give us a little bit of background? How did you get into the industry? What got you started?


Anders Jensen  00:42

Oh, and first of all, thank you Brent and mark for having me. I love to listen to your show while I commute to bike to my job. So I think a lot of great people in good. Actually, it was a bit of a backdoor into the RPA thing because I didn't like RPA for like maybe 15 years, but more like scripting, I used to be a professional online poker player. And being an online poker player, you need to play as many table as you can. That is you need to scale it up to high and your hourly win rate. And by doing so we want to talk about we it was I established a poker office with the 12 guys in cupake where we basically just went to work to have colleagues. And we quickly realized that we need some sort of like scripting automation thing to be able to make quicker decisions on the online tables. So first, we discovered autohotkey, which is basically advanced macros, Allied RPA tool. And what I did first was that I subscribe to a lot of data mined poker hands, it's online poker is like you play against other people around the world. And if you have more information on them, you can make better decisions. So what you do is that you order downloaded data mined data is completely legal. And then these data will be processed into your database tool. And you can get heads up displays, telling everything about that player, at least how he plays or his or her tendencies.


Mark Percival  02:31

Wow. So I, I like to think that I'm such a bad poker player that it's hard to actually get a gauge on how I play.


Anders Jensen  02:41

But what, but game theory wise, you will probably have some leaks, that could be you bluff too much, or you bluff too little or loads of other things. And you want to be able to as professional poker player, you want to be able to discover those things also, not only against recreational players, but also against like professional players. So first thing that I automated was just to download the minor data, imported into a database tool, and process some simple queries that could help me, like sort of off table work. I did that with auto we did with autohotkey. And then, like a little time after we moved on to live automation. That was like keyboard shortcut for betting. When you sit at a table, you want to quickly do the things instead of clicking with the mouse and all that you need to have some keyboard shortcut. It could also be because I played 22 tables. So I had to position these tables around these two screens, and I had to do it in a quick order. I think you can have software as a fit now. But back then it wasn't any really anything. So you need to develop it yourself. So that was the problems. I think you had a question. I don't know if it was Leslie or some somewhere else that talked about autohotkey. And that autohotkey clicked a lot around the screen at that. That Yeah, control it. Maybe it was him?


Brent Sanders  04:09

Yeah, i think i think it was.


Anders Jensen  04:11

Yeah. And actually we had those problems in the beginning as well. As you can imagine clicking when it's about money clicking the wrong. That's not really good. So we had those problems, but we fixed them. We can't remember what we did. But actually we reduced or completely eliminated all the problems with the hour playing. So that's how I started automating. And then it just went on from there.


Brent Sanders  04:43

That's great. That's great. I mean, so that's interesting applications, the first poker player that we've heard about using automation. 


Mark Percival  04:52

Is it the first though? I feel like this is something I like a reoccurring thing I hear from software engineers who kind of fall into the poker space. Yeah, I know a lot of software engineers to solve very hard problems around this. Yeah. Because the games I mean, the gaming the tables, these they're. This is a cat and mouse game, right? The companies that are building these poker software suites, have the servers actually doing things to like, they'll move the card slightly, they'll, they'll do certain things to try to make automation more difficult, right?


Anders Jensen  05:22

Yeah, but but Mark does two things in this, what we did here was basically just automating our own decision, we didn't apply any brain chemistry or sort of AI that they got it right for us. So we only optimized it for ourself. And in the beginning, it was not against the site's terms of terms and conditions.


Mark Percival  05:43

Right? So you're saying, like, you're not automating the actual, you're not building a poker bot that automates is really, something that's helping you make decisions?


Anders Jensen  05:52

I'll get back to that. But yeah, we did it. Like, we took the decisions ourselves, all of them. And we just used autohotkey, and scripting for making quick decisions and scale the how many tables we could play.


Brent Sanders  06:12

Makes a ton of sense. I mean, that is when somebody comes to us, or when I you know, I've had conversations with companies that work in spaces, you know, they're not necessarily in poker, but we had a conversation with a company that they what was it the ticket buying company, they were like a ticket broker, and they had reached out and you know, of course, there are, you know, ethical questions as well as like, you know, countermeasures in place to stop bots from buying tickets. But the first thing we started talking about with him was like, what are all the other things that you do in order to, you know, enable the human to be more productive. So keep the humans buying the tickets, you know, for an event, and this is obviously pre COVID. But in thinking about, you know, you need to create email addresses, you need to do administrative tasks. And that's actually the more time consuming part than actually buying tickets. And so the, the, it's a great example of like, eating around the problem of, you know, RPA, and where RPA can be really helpful.


Mark Percival  07:11

Yeah, definitely. And, actually, they changed their terms and conditions and conditions all over pokerstars party poker, and a lot of other poker sites back in the golden days. So they changed the terms and conditions. And now it was illegal. It was not illegal, it was against their terms and condition. Of course, it was still legal. So we could do it. But if they discovered they will, we could freeze our accounts or whatever. So that was, that was not a good period, when we had to it was like a weapon race against the science. And it's but but we saw like a dress code for a party where you could get thrown out for like putting on type of clothes. So it was basically, as long as it wasn't illegal. I wasn't having any problem with that. Great. So. So it was fun. I learned a lot. I think you can see autohotkey as a light RPA tool like scripting. Can you define that? You guys can tell me? Can you define that as RPA?


Brent Sanders  08:14

We literally I think we talked about this almost every podcast is like the definition is fuzzy around RPA. And I think the most I don't know, the this, the definition that I've heard that made the most sense to me was that as long as there's like a suite around it, and so like looking at UiPath is like oh, that's, that's RPA they have the infrastructure to build it, but also the infrastructure to run it. So I don't know. I mean, I look at automation is the real industry and RPA is sort of a subcategory or sort of a term within it. Yeah, it's definitely automation. I mean, it's definitely multiplying your capacity to do some tasks. I also think autohotkey has a big community around it, right? I think that's also part of what makes it a successful automation tool, is because there's so many people trading scripts and things like that around the autohotkey community.


Mark Percival  09:06

It was a huge community. And we actually we did he change ideas with a lot of gamers like they played video games and stuff like that. I think autohotkey is quite popular and data area, and we could use a lot of their experience and they could use some of ours. So we talked a lot with them. And we actually hired some freelancers from India. That was they were really, really great, helping us. So and then after autohotkey, we changed to win automation. Some of the early versions. I don't think it was the first versions. I'm not. I don't remember what version of us but we changed to win automation, which enabled us to create more advanced flows. It was still kind of buggy. It's not do when automation or power automate desktop that you see today, but it was Still a lot better than autohotkey, we could build a basic framework around it. And then we actually built because we had the input in online poker, they exist database tools with heads up display that you can buy. So you can do all these things. They can do all these things for you. But we wanted to make it more advanced. So we made some scripts to analyze opponents and implemented when automation and that. And then actually, it went on. And finally, the bots took over like the real bots, because we actually will we, of course, also thought about making real bot like the one you mentioned before, like a partner could play for you. That could be the REAL ID end goal of our automation. That a ruin year, but that would ruin your whole Bible having 12 people in the same room. Yeah, but actually, we had a rule that we do. We didn't play each other. But you're right, Mark, it would ruin everything. And, but we never played against each other. And that was actually because we wanted to, to avoid the accusation of collusion or collusion. So we didn't, because it was quite public that we sat there. Some people, they had blocks, I didn't, but some of the other guys that blocks and some of them were sponsored, and the things that was in the polka polka golden days. So we wanted to avoid that we could get accused of anything, like unethical, of course, building a bot that could could be seen as unethical. Again, it's legal, but it's not. It's not in line with their decides to see.


Brent Sanders  11:41

Right.


Mark Percival  11:42

Right. But this is a key part, I think, to RPA and this is where you can see it. Because actually, we had it, they existed an online solver for poker, which could play perfectly poker for a part of the game tree that is like in, in the start of too big in the beginning of a poker hand. This tool could solve like for the perfect poker player, meaning that if you played against this tool, it will play perfect poker against you. And you will lose money, whatever you do, whatever you did in the long run. So but you can't. You couldn't use this tool online, it was only offline. So we used RPA to integrate this system with the online poker system, so to say, so it was like integrating to IT systems that wouldn't talk to each other.


Brent Sanders  12:31

Right? Great application of RPA.


Anders Jensen  12:34

Yeah. And there. And it wasn't really a success. In the beginning, I think it was quite hard. And we could only solve for a part of the game too. It was a little bit slow. And I think we spend more hours than we actually gained. spend more money in terms of hours than we actually gained in the long run. So I don't think it was a good strategy in the beginning, but we learned a lot and a lot of that I could use later on. 


Brent Sanders  13:04

Yeah. Yeah so how did that end up my understanding? In the end, I was never a big online poker player. But my understanding is rules changed. The industry largely changed and drove a lot of the what I would call like, day trader day player profiles out of the out of playing poker online, or is that your case as well?


Anders Jensen  13:31

Yeah. Asking me if I see myself as a day trader that got driven out of poker, or was that the question? 


Brent Sanders  13:41

Yeah, I was just curious, what drew you out of that industry? I mean, I understand there was like a major sea change over time that at least I started working jobs with people that were ex poker players that I was I always looked at it very similar to day trading, it's like you're gonna spend your time you know, making decisions and working on a screen and likely holding multiple positions or hands, or, you know, I don't know how many hands of poker would you play in a day? Typically,


Mark Percival  14:10

yeah, we'll play like 1200 poker hands an hour and I excelled in like playing for like 15 hours straight with just short breaks in head a little fresh behind me and, and whatnot. So like a bottle to to get out to get away with the water and that so it was, it was it was it was fun days and it was of course you could make a lot of money because clearly, there was too much money in the market in the poker market back then it was like a stock market where where the market was skewed. It was way way way way way too much money and that drew like the kind of people you talk about like a day trader people not that it's not that I have anything against them. But it drew a lot of these. I want to get Rich in a short time, I think I took more like the math approach. So I just solve it. But I never, I never been a huge gambler. I think I play a lot of board games. But that's for the strategy. So I like to strategy in it. And I like to solve it by game theory. So that was my approach. And when you ask what got me out of it, that was actually the bots, like, the bots took over like, like we build bots, a lot of other guys, they started to build, bot because clearly there were too much money in the market. And these bots got better and better. And even if a bot just can break even, it still takes money out of the market, because you will play rake that is you play a commission to the side that you play on. So they can earn money. And so even if they just break even, you took away a losing player and substituted with a barter. So that was, so I could see that my income was going down. And I thought about it like for a couple of years, it wasn't it was still a very, very good job income wise, much better than I have now. But I just realized, at some point that I had to do something else, because there was no future in the long run. I actually always saw myself as a poker player thought I could play till I got like 70 years old. But, but then I had to change. So I think it was 35 or 36, I signed up for university, and to a bachelor's degree in economics with that was like a lot of game theory and math on there. And I don't like to get because I could still have a good study job like a part time job playing poker besides the university. But now, I could only afford in time to play like 20 hours a week. And that made me it was I was not getting worse, the poker wise or in the game tier wise, but I was getting worse compared to the relative to the competition. So being in a job where you can see you're slowly getting worse that last me.


Brent Sanders  17:22

Yeah, that has to be completely from like a psyche perspective. It's like what are you investing your time? And if you're Yeah, getting worse if you're not progressing at something. So you went into the career world to hop right into RPA? Or did you


Mark Percival  17:39

No x? No. I started to study in the university. And I had my savings. So I didn't have a job that was part of my plan. So the first day because I hadn't studied for like 20 years, or maybe 2015 years. So I was a little bit scared of being too much. Because when you haven't went to school for like 15 years, that could be sort of a change, but that well the first year. And we did a lot of automation, mainly, like data science, and SAS or Stata, or R and, of course, Excel VBA. So we did automation a lot. We use that a lot, because there was a lot of data science involved in the degree. And then I think I actually, in the last part of my poker career, we started using UiPath It was very buggy back then it went down all the time. And it had a lot of arrows. And right after my bachelor's degree, I got a job with UiPath as an RPA developer, like sort of a GET STARTED job. And I met a very skilled developer yen, who has been who has been on the India PA space right from the beginning in like a big bank and Denmark and now we're there together. So I was like he became not, it was not part of his job. But he became like sort of a mentor for me. So he could, he taught me a lot about RPA. And I quickly got a huge interest in it because that's basically what we have been doing for all the poker years. So that was my way.


Brent Sanders  19:24

This is like a reverse rounders. The movie. Like you left poker to go to school and your mentor, like, you know, helped you and RPA it's the opposite of what happened to rounders. Yeah, right. So this is interesting. So when you kind of went, I mean, obviously, you go back to school, you go to UiPath. And you had all this skill set coming over from this, but it sounds like I mean, you were very technical before you went into RPA. I mean, the poker thing. It was very technical.


Mark Percival  19:57

Yeah, it was very technical. Math game theory oriented. So we'll, that's where my focus was, was and I still think that that is what I'm good at. Moser good at communicating with people like in the company as well. But like many of your other guests learn a lot from your podcast when I'm listening to that because they talk about things that some of the things I don't know will exist. And some of them of course I know about and I know a little about him, but gallon a lot, then I, when I hear your podcast, I go home and Google and maybe YouTube or take another course in those areas where I can clearly see that I need some wisdom.


Brent Sanders  20:39

Yeah, that makes sense. It's, um, it's, you know, it's we talked about this a lot in the podcast, but there's, there's sort of the implementation side of RPA. And there's the technical side of it, and being able to develop and being able to understand the programmatic way that these things work. And then there's the other side, which is more on the sort of the encapsulating the problem, right? It's the RPA analyst who comes in and says, Well, here's how I would you know, here's something you could tackle, here's a way to do it. Where do you kind of sit right now, do you sit more on the technical implementation side or on the more on the analyst side of figuring out, you know, building the specs out for these things?


Mark Percival  21:12

Clearly, it's the technical side, I just adjust in quotation marks, I develop the solutions that people tell me, but usually I do some sort of business analyst word to describe the problem, and I talk with people so that could be in the analyst part. But then I talked with people and I tried to create a solution, we talked about it, and then I can implement it. So it's, it's the low hanging fruits, I would say, like solving the problems for them, and then just quickly give them a solution that can work.


Brent Sanders  21:44

I mean, that's part of the hardest piece, right is figuring out just what those problems are. And kind of identifying them, we hear that a lot, which is, you know, the RPA, kind of right now is still tackling the low hanging fruit. You know, you see all these industries, and you hear all this energy is going into RTA, and you hear all these things about AI and hyper automation. But at the end of the day, a lot of it is still just there's so much low hanging fruit out there and these industries, right, that that can be tackled first. And your particular industry, where do you kind of see, maybe discuss a little bit about, you know, your industry and where you kind of set?


Mark Percival  22:20

Yeah, I don't think I talked about that. But I work in the payroll company called leser, that subsidiary subsidiary of paychecks USA, that's a NASDAQ listed company. So we do payrolls. And so primarily, my job is to onboard customers, not directly, but help with that. Integrate, like when the customer they have, so we, we don't do the exact payrolls, we do software for the companies. So when a company comes to us, they want to change to our payroll solution, so and we help them migrate, like 1000 of their employees to our system. So, and you can use RPA a lot during onboarding customers, so a lot of onboarding, migrating, and, and stuff like that. That's the main part of my job.


Brent Sanders  23:16

It seems like a really good application of RPA. Right? It's like, getting to, and I'm not sure to the extent that it does sound like you know, getting users out or data from one system and into another, and being able to scale that across thousands of users.


Anders Jensen  23:33

So typically, they could be like, when they have their customers in like, maybe dynamics or something, and then we can, then we can get them over to our system, which will be our Yeah, well, how the system we have in house? Great, yeah.


Brent Sanders  23:51

What does that look like? And I'm just, you know, feel free to color as much as you're comfortable with, but what does that look like? Do you have a team? You know, how did the company embrace RPA? And like, what structure do they employ?


Mark Percival  24:06

Yeah, the structure is quite simple. We are two people. So my boss and I, and so I pretty much just solve the problems and that comes easy to me. I can solve all the technical problems. I don't think there's a technical problem that I cannot solve in, in UiPath. But there'll be a lot of government things, government things and stuff like that, I'll rely on his help. So we work great together. He also had the responsibility for the QA testing. So and he has loads of wisdom there that he can help me with. So I see that as a good learning for me and also help.


Brent Sanders  24:56

Yeah, that's interesting. And do you know how long RPA has been a part of the company, like, how long have they been?


Anders Jensen  25:03

We started moving our pace started with I started here in May, like the first of May. And we started with RPA, the first of May. So we actually implemented and we had a decision whether we should go with UiPath or some of their competitors, and then we ended UiPath.


Brent Sanders  25:23

I'm just curious, what, what about UI path, like landed you on that decision,


Mark Percival  25:31

um, market leader, then I had a lot of experience in UiPath. Because I have developed a lot of solutions there. But we actually thought about, we had the final meeting, I remember we had a, it was UiPath, or when automation that was right before Microsoft acquired when automation. And then we went UiPath, even though that we thought their support work. It could be improved a lot compared to the other. And then we went with UiPath. We had a meeting. And then I think it was the same day like in the evening, then Microsoft acquired soft, emotive, which, oh, wow, responsibility for when automation. So we actually were a bit confused, but we thought about maybe if we made the right decision, and we talked about it, and then we found out that we did and then we just went with UiPath. Great. Yeah, it's fine. It's quite reliable. And it's a good framework. And yeah, so


Brent Sanders  26:32

yeah, I noticed that. So hopping over to you have a YouTube channel that has, like an unbelievable amount of great quality and great content, videos. How long have you been, you've been running the YouTube channel for


Mark Percival  26:49

I think, a little less than a year, it started with me that I had colleagues that wanted to solve some technical problems with UiPath. And then I tried to explain them and realize that they were asking about the same things like three or four times. Not that I complained, but because I asked about other things three or four times. So it's just because when, when something is complicated, you will probably ask about it a couple of times, then I realized I could make some videos. So I made some videos, just placed him on YouTube, forgot about him for a couple of weeks. And then when I came back and saw they one of them had like 1000 views or something. And then I just thought it was fun to make these videos to my YouTube channel. So while in the beginning, it was to educate my colleagues, it became more like and also, if I had a problem that I solved, I like to just make a video. And so I could remember the solution. So to say.


Brent Sanders  27:54

Yeah, that's key. I mean, I find myself going through my old notes, and I don't do a good enough job about kind of, you know, six months later, you run into the same thing and you completely you know, that you can fix it, you know, what to maybe search but like, what, what was it that because it actually I love the idea of creating creating YouTube videos, so other people can benefit from that. That's great. Yeah.


Mark Percival  28:20

And then actually, I thought, also a thought because I was quite old when I took my bachelor's degree at the University, I thought, and I didn't have even though I had been a professional poker player self employed for 15 years, I thought that, well, I don't have much of working experience. So. So it was also like, it became also like creating a portfolio. Sure. So if I wanted a new job someday, I could, of course I could have worked here for a year. But I could also say that this is my capability, I can do these things. And they could see me they could hear me. And actually that was kind of the deal, why they hired me in that company. When I say we only two or two in the RPA department is actually not true because the business people they actually develop or some RPA themselves as well, where I will assist them. So it's so you can see the RPA department as a bit of a spread around the company. Hmm. Good. And then and then and then. Sorry. And just to finish it, and then they wanted to so when they hired me, David, they wanted some some guy that could educate them either with videos or like a speech or you know, like that, and then they can see the videos that I could do that so they were so that was that was my way.


Brent Sanders  29:42

Yeah, I was gonna say that there's like this sort of new method of media, you know, having a YouTube channel it's a phenomenal way to raise your profile right. So to you may you, as you said, 15 years playing poker, you didn't build those connections that you otherwise would would maybe have You know, working your way through, you know, various jobs and making those connections and not that you, you probably have those in the poker world, and those still translate, but what a great opportunity to if you have some knowledge and if you have not to discount the time that goes into creating, because I know Mark and I, we think we have a couple of live coding videos have maybe one or two, they actually it takes a lot to get started in that and, you know, get the setup, right. And, you know, I've done some trying to aspire to do more live coding, it's difficult. And so I commend you for, for staying at it and producing me you have, I think, over 100 videos, I mean, hundreds of videos, and what's what's your total video count right now, I mean,


Mark Percival  30:48

I think leave I think it's well over 250 or something. But it's not something you should do to at least not for my part, I don't, you don't get rich in doing those. So it's sort of a hobby, I like to do these things in my weekends and just have fun with it, I think I've been like $400 a month, and I put well over like hundred hours in it. So that's like $4 an hour. So. So


Brent Sanders  31:17

That being said, you know, the new model, and the thing that gets me the most excited about is you've invested that time over the videos are gonna stay for four years. And I think that the topics you're covering are so fundamental that, you know, they easily can become the authoritative guide to things like, you know, one of the, I noticed you have a couple videos on reef framework, which is like a, maybe you could tell our listeners what your experiences with reef framework or at least give us like a quick overview, but it's my understanding, and we've messed with it a little bit is it's a way to kind of methodically handle, you know, restructuring your bots and UiPath. So it handles error handling, and retry and things like that.


Mark Percival  32:02

So what what what the re framework is, it's in layman's terms, it's just a template that you can build your workflow in, it will be a state machine layout, which is just moving from one state to another, and it will take a loop, it will handle your cases one by one, then it will do exceptional error handling, like you say it will do a lot of locking so and you can configure it in a lot of ways. So it's a, it's a predefined template from UiPath that you can use. And what we did both in my former company, and here, we modified it. So it shooted our business needs, but it's still like 90% of the template from UiPath. And yeah, I did a couple of guides. And actually it's funny, I'm launching a beginner's guide to the reef framework. So just to get started and all that it's not that complicated. It looks complicated, because of all the connection settings and state machines. Yeah, but it's, it's really not. Of course, everything like Excel is also complicated. But if you just do the basic things, like if you fill in to type in cells in Excel, if you learn how to summarize and, and these things and change maybe the format and stuff like that you already you already feel like you know, the application, and you can easily learn a lot more, just by taking the first step.


Brent Sanders  33:23

Yeah, I think, you know, UiPath for me was difficult, steep learning curve, you were coming from really, really anywhere else. As a software engineer just getting involved in it was challenging. And the videos actually make it are one of the easiest or most compelling way to learn. Because a lot of the just following through the regular guidelines, it's hard to really understand just the studio and how things connect together and the language and the terminology. And so I think there's a steep learning curve, just in general with UiPath, or any RPA tool, maybe, but UiPath, for me, was fairly challenging and where the videos came in to be. For me, were just extremely useful. I think revert re framework is another layer on top of that. As you're as you're on YouTube, Do you get any crazy comments? If you get any? I know YouTube is full of hilarious comments, but I'm curious, what's the feedback?


Mark Percival  34:18

It's actually been 99% Very good. I mean, like, people ask me a lot of questions. I'm happy answering those. What I don't do is like people when they ask me to solve a Thai project that will take me like eight hours to solve I mean, I cannot do that. But it's nice that they have questions to the videos, it makes them more interactive, and I can I love when I have time on my commutes or whenever I have a cup of coffee, just answer to the questions that I can. And, of course just some people like saying that I should speak like a man or whatever, you know, but those I just I just, I ignore or like block, stuff like that. I don't spend time on that. So all the comments there, they are extremely nice. And I love the interaction with the users.


Brent Sanders  35:08

So that's like, to me that's like the dream of the internet. Right? This idea that when the internet came online we're going to share information. And then, you know, the idea that we can share video and knowledge and teach each other things for free is like the beauty. But then of course, you have the trolls, you have the comment. So I think it's awesome what you're doing. I think it's commendable. I think it's like a really, because I mean, yeah, you can make some money from YouTube. But really, it's not a matter of, you know, this is not going to power your career and be the thing you sit back and retire on. But it's a labor of love. And it's helping people. And I think I mean, the reason we started the podcast, I think I mentioned this before we started recording, it's like, there's just not enough good RPA content out there. That's, that's more community driven. You know, I think we were looking at, you know, the amount of white papers and marketing material and everything's driven by these big vendors that you're not really getting straight. Like, wait, how does this thing work? And in the transparency level isn't quite there. I'm curious, like, besides, of course, the formulated podcasts, but what are some sort of trusted sources, any other sites, videos, or resources that you consume around the RPA space that are community driven?


Mark Percival  36:28

Yeah, actually, the technical part, there's a lot of good Indian people that I love to watch on the YouTube, then I have a YouTube forum a little sorry, the UiPath forum. But that's only for the UiPath part of the PA tree. That's, that will get a lot of questions there. I'll try to answer some of them myself. And I read good answers from the other users. And then, actually, I, like you said, you mentioned before, one of you guys mentioned before, like, the YouTube channel is a great way to build a network, I met a lot of interesting people through my channel and through just communicating with people like watching other people's videos. So right now I have a huge network. So whenever I'm in doubt about something, RPA, I can easily just write one of these guys. And they helped me and of course, I do the same when I have time to help them in return. So I think it actually build a great network to be like some sort of visible in the community. But that's, that's mainly the UI path community. But I think that's natural, because that's, that's the application that I develop in. 


Brent Sanders  37:38

Yeah, yeah, I mean, I think that also is a big factor. And, you know, kind of a selling point of any platform is like knowing you're not the only one using this software. And if you are the only one. Or if you are not the only one, you're the only one that's on a forum or like available, because I think one of the things that scares me about some of the bigger RPA platforms UiPath seems to navigate as well. But it's, you know, you're working at an enterprise, that enterprise is generally a closed environment, you don't want to be reaching out to people. So, you know, knowing what that community is, like, knowing where you can get answers. And obviously, it's a, you know, dependent on also the person like yourself who has a profile and is able to raise that profile and develop a network, like that's really important in my mind to not falling into common pitfalls, and it's just really good to hear that you've, you know, found that in UiPath and so that's a big point for for that platform. I'd be interested to know on all so I'm looking at your videos right now. And what do you have any that stand out that you were surprised by how much they resonated in terms of page views, where you were like, you put it up and you were just kind of blown away?


Anders Jensen  38:51

Now I just need you to repeat that. Did you say paid views? Or do you just say views?


Mark Percival  38:56

Sorry, sorry, not page views? Sorry, just video views? which ones kind of resonated or once you were surprised by.


Anders Jensen  39:01

Actually it was not UiPath It was autohotkey my autohotkey videos and my Microsoft power to make videos that stood out better that indeed these videos stands out. These videos stand out a lot that they will get like I think the autohotkey is my most viewed video that said like 40,000 views or something? Yeah, yes. And it will get it will get like the last month it got like 10,000 views or so. So that is really popular. And Microsoft power automate as well. 


Brent Sanders  39:34

Does the interest drive like what you just said? So if you get to this interest around autohotkey does that inspire you to do more than that? Are you just going to focus on what you're most interested in?


Mark Percival  39:47

Maybe maybe it does a little I must admit but but what actually made me make this video I made a beginners tutorial and then some other videos it was just because I forgot about autohotkey for like I haven't Developing that in five years, and then I just discovered, well, that was this tool back then. And then I just had a Friday night and I just didn't know what to do. I know it sounds strange. But then then I downloaded autohotkey again, and I started to make some scripts, and I thought it was fun. And then I just, yeah, make a quick video about it. That's great. I think it took a month or something like there was no views the first month and then it just, it just went up. So, so that is, that was fun. And so I think actually, so when you can say UiPath is not my most popular videos, or at least power ultimatum, auto hotkeys. And then I made some videos about the open source tool open RPA that also went well, but I think that was because there's some sort of a like a community around that tool as well. So I think all these guys they saw the video. Yeah, know that even though it was way too easy to to novice for them. But I just think that they liked the tool so much. So they watched it.


Brent Sanders  41:03

Yeah, I remember hearing. I think Tom Taulli brought up, open RPA. On a previous conversation, he said there was, is that the project? I believe there's one sort of lead who is sort of the mastermind behind it and really driving a lot of the work there. Is that the right project?


Mark Percival  41:24

I'm thinking, Oh, yeah, he's amazing. He's called Elon Sim. And actually, I didn't know about him. And then I've read something about a project. And I just thought that was while I had this YouTube channel going. And I just contacted him and asked if we could have a video talk where he can show me something. And I could ask questions, because it was so curious. And then we got in contact. And actually, since we have been a lot in contact, and we have never met each other, but it's still like, we can like call and just talk about daily things as well. But so that's, that's another great contact that I got there. And we used to open up a lot in my old job. But now it's UiPath exclusive view?


42:07



Brent Sanders  42:08

Yes, I think it was it was mentioned, we haven't really, I looked at this project, I haven't really dug into it. To give it the time that I really should. It's on my list of things to kind of dive into but it was explained that he is super talented. And I use the term mastermind as somebody who's anybody who's running a open source project for more than a year has a great deal of respect for me. And I believe this projects been going much longer than that.


Anders Jensen  42:40

It was a really I heard the story about him. And it was a great story. He worked in a company where they developed IT solutions. I'm not sure what kind but they did and their customers dry day. They asked about this RPA RPA RPA that was kind of new back then. And then there, he just took a weekend and he developed an RPA tool. And it was built on the windows framework. So it looked a lot like UiPath Of course it was not as as versatile as UiPath. But it was still a solution that he could work on. 


Brent Sanders  43:19

Sure. Yeah. I think that's the interesting thing. Mark, I know you've, you know, in our work and over the time digging into UiPath more and more and you realize it's like this stuff is all just built on this the windows framework, right? It's Yes. Like it's deeply embedded, like a tick, you know, in the windows world. Yeah, it is very much in the windows world. I mean, you see this with a UiPath is a great example. It's Microsoft, but I don't know the name of it forms builder form control flow. But it's all basically based on that. And so you kind of live in this definitely live in a Windows world. I certainly do these days.


Anders Jensen  43:58

Definitely.


Brent Sanders  44:00

Still have my trusty Mac version, my remote desktop, 


Mark Percival  44:03

well give it up. But you know, remote desktop is pretty amazing. So yep. And I think like I like doing this podcast, of course, I thought it was a great podcast, so I thought it was awesome that you guys asked me to come here but but also that could result in like another interesting connection like, like a guy who knows something that I don't know about and maybe I know something that he don't know, he know he don't know about it, then we can exchange like wisdom and I like that a lot. Yeah, I like the whole culture about the poker community. It was very small. Like you can compare it to the UI path or RPA community it was very small. So old people know each other or at all but a lot of guys we know each other and we could share wisdom even though that we competed every day.


Brent Sanders  44:50

Yeah, right. I would say you know, in general, putting yourself out there creating a, you know, some sort of channel whether it's YouTube or podcasts. The good news is, is it gives you a good excuse to talk to interesting people, right? And so, like, it's otherwise it would be a little weird if I said, Hey, can we talk for an hour? I'd love to just like pick your brain, you might, if you were really nice, I'm sure you would say, Sure. I'd be like, I'd love to give you some of that time. But it's a great way to talk interesting people. And when Mark and I started this, it was really, you know, yes, we need to, we'd like to improve the visibility of information in the RPA space and make it less of a sort of black box or a vendor driven content community. But more so just wanted to learn more about space, we really believe that. This is where the future is headed. We think that, you know, by the way, we I think we've all shared this vision, this is not a new technology, per se. But it's, it's like the time is right for this technology. And it's growing and definitely wanted to use this as an opportunity to talk to people about and find out more about their experiences. And I think that's resonated with our listeners. And I think we do have a fair amount of listeners that just love to hear more stories, or how did they, how did you get started? I think one of the biggest questions is how do you choose what platform is right for you? And how do you learn how to code for that platform? I mean, some of those really fundamental decisions are just helpful to kind of hear other people like, one of our initial guests like la say, you know, understanding how do you structure an RPA practice at a big company like that it's so valuable, because otherwise, there's just, there doesn't seem to be a lot of written stories about that.


Anders Jensen  46:37

Now, and that was what I meant when I said, I learned a lot from listening to, to to this podcast and like, like, I get introduced, introduced to ideas that I hadn't thought existed before. Right. And I could have just investigated myself. Yeah.


Brent Sanders  46:52

Well, I'm glad to get something. That's great to hear.


Anders Jensen  46:54

But I think we need a like podcast about you. I mean, how can I started this podcast? And what is formulated automation and all that I think you be when I listened to the podcast, I got very curious what kind of guys YouTube, YouTube? 


Brent Sanders  47:09

Oh,  sure, yeah, well, we can talk about that. Now. I mean, I know for myself, I've been, I've been doing software engineering in some way, shape, or form, I actually have a music background I went to school for, for music. And about halfway through my program, I added a minor in business, because I realized I didn't quite want to be a professional musician for the rest of my life. It's like, I think, at least in the States, it's a great job, but you have to love it, like you have to love performing. Beyond everything else, because it's a little bit of a difficult profession. 


Mark Percival  47:47

Our job right now.


Brent Sanders  47:49

It's definitely a hard job right now. But But you know, in all reality, it's the schedule is, you wake up, you go teach, right, so you're going to probably teach in some way, shape or form, and then at night, you're going also play so, you know, time away from your family is given in the weekends and evenings are our, you know, claimed, and so, but halfway through school, I started, you know, diving deeper into building websites, and then on and on and on, you know, built a business around that, and then built a consulting company, years after that, and, you know, if, during that consulting period really was, was doing a lot of automation, you know, getting an e commerce, but, you know, we would have clients coming to us, hey, you know, we have this this unruly process, can you Is there anything you can do to help us and so I was implementing, mainly with just, you know, Python solutions to, you know, fix automation problems. So we can do that now, you would probably use the UiPath for that, that's kind of how once this sort of resurgence or rising popularity and RPA grew, you know, jumped right on it and trying to understand, okay, where is this going? And it are these tools, in fact, going to make the automation world, you know, versus what I was doing in Python in directly coding and working directly with databases and deploying things. is, are these tools really going to make it easier? Because to me, it's always like, as a developer, it's like, yeah, yeah, yeah, low code. Sure. I bet it's gonna work great. And, you know, surprisingly, we're still, we're still doing the podcast, we're still in this space, we're still very bullish on where it's going. So obviously, the tools are getting better. And I think the most exciting part of it is less. So the tools changing which in all reality, like from a grand scheme, I don't think they have changed a ton. But I think it's sort of the appetite for an interest for, you know, fixing some of these sort of automation gaps or, you know, productivity gaps. So, I think that's the The long and short of it I mean, Mark and I met. The other part of this is Mark and I met when I built that consulting company, I sold it to a venture capital firm. And Mark was a part of that firm. And we, I don't know, we got to work for about two years, just kind of working on deals and helping out companies that were a part of the portfolio. So yeah, we kind of met that way. And I think we both, we both saw that RPA was good, this was going to continue. And I think, I'm sure Andres, you've seen this, but there's a lot of uptake in the past few years. But obviously, it's been around for a long time. But it seems like it's hitting this point where now every company is looking at it, or whereas before, I think it was still a little bit specialized. And then from my standpoint, I think in general, we're gonna see more and more need for stuff like RPA, just because we're gonna keep seeing as the software systems grow. And as companies become more and more online and digital, the fact of the matter is they're just going to acquire more legacy software out of that. And so you're seeing a real problem now, or for software's, it's actually holding companies back because of the older software they're running. older systems, getting the integrations to work, right. And I think that's where RPA, from my standpoint, is the most exciting, which is it addresses this huge issue that's going to just keep becoming, it's not going anywhere. So companies are not going to be able to just, you know, move on to the latest software package, the fact of the matter is you have a large enterprise, it's stuck where it's at, and it's gonna take a long time to transition to something new, and RPA. And a lot of ways builds these connectors or bridges or, you know, patches for some period of time where they can actually continue to be productive and grow. And so I think that's, you know, from my standpoint, coming from sovereign engineering, it's been very much, you know, software engineering is. And I mean, I spent a lot of time on the web development side and building new software. But I guess, the thing that excites me is now that we've built all this software, we actually have a problem, which is now how do we handle it? We have so much. And so that's where RPA, you're starting to see. And that's why I think you're starting to see such an uptake in RPA, is that companies are starting to realize this, I mean, anybody who's been involved in a company, where you have an older software system, and it's like, well, we're gonna rewrite it, or we're gonna build something new, or we're gonna transition, you know, the pain points, you know, it's not something you can do overnight, it might not be something you can do in a year. And RPA is really in a lot of ways, the only way to solve this problem right now.


Anders Jensen  52:24

Yeah, totally agree. And actually, that's what we do in the company, it's, I build the solutions, like it's only like, it's only if they would like to, to integrate it all, but they cannot afford to afford that in time. So the appellee RPA is the solution for, for quickly getting some results. Here, at least,


Brent Sanders  52:45

which I think is a, in a sense, a good thing, especially if they're new to it, right. It's like I've, we've seen some stories, and maybe, you know, these were not stories that are on the podcast. And this is more so anecdotal, from sort of friends at other companies, where you start to see gains in small teams and RPA. And then the company decides, oh, we're gonna go all in. And they end up creating a lot of value, however, of losing that value in the size of the teams that need to support the automations long enough having to make a sizable investment. And it's hard to forecast that. And understand, you know, are we actually saving that amount. So it's, it's almost good to hear that you're at the stage where they are, right, and so you're delivering value, and it's a net positive every time you deploy that script,


Mark Percival  53:39

and then can easily measured in dollars. So actually, we got kroner here as the currency in Denmark, but they could easily measure it because they can see some of the things that we do with RPA that I do with RPA, they would not do it because they had to manually do these things, or they should spend the money which they will have to which will the customers will have to pay and then they might not the customer might not say well, that's too expensive. We will not migrate to your product because it will be too expensive these things so then we can compete. The RPA can be an easy solution so we can compete in migrating to customers to us.


Brent Sanders  54:16

Yeah, yeah. So with sort of this like forward looking lens, is there anything in the industry or in the tooling that you're working with is anything that you're looking forward to that's coming out that's on the horizon? Anything that you're working with? It's new, that's been exciting,


Mark Percival  54:32

I think I looked a lot at like some of the AI and machine learning part, but I'm not sure it's, it's it's market ready yet. I mean, for my part, it was UI path document understanding package, which could or supposed to automatically detect invoices and receipts and could integrate that into your systems, but it's only a half a solution as of it's as it is now. So I'm not really. I don't think I know enough about the industry. I know. My wisdom is primarily on the technical side. So I'm not that. No, I got I don't got knowledge about the industry to say what I'm looking forward for, if that makes 


Brent Sanders  55:18

sure. Yeah, well, I mean, I think you know, the AI and machine learning pieces interesting. You work, I haven't worked with the UiPath package I have worked with, I played with the Azure document, basically, they called I think it's called structured data, or the turn documents into structured data. And at least I found with that one, it's very good. I mean, there's definitely a degree of confidence, right? And then once you introduce this idea of these non deterministic outputs of like, well, I got this data. And you know, if it's not, if we're not confident enough in it, let's kick it over to a person, maybe that's worthwhile. But it definitely is a different paradigm, right? Where it's getting outputs back from an endpoint saying, okay, here's the structured data, I think, and this is how much I think it is. It's hard to know what to do with that information. Yeah. So is the UI path? Is it a module or sort of activity? Like, how does that one work?


Mark Percival  56:19

So it is a module, is a package that you need to install? And if you use it, like a corporate level, then you need to pay for his pay? Pacer paid service? So and I haven't integrated professionally at all, I just made fun with it, privately. And, and yeah, that's pretty much it. But I'd like to ask Mark, Mark, your technical guys, well, and you said you played around with UiPath? Would there be any videos like you missed on the internet that you would like to secret? Not a good question. You didn't want to re framework I just found out which actually, I would have liked to seen that a few months back.


Brent Sanders  57:01

We were looking at that. And it was super intimidating. It was people that have I mean, what 15 years experience, software engineering, looking at that and looking at the UI, it's like having to literally having to deal with a user interface and understand how everything connects is more intimidating to me than just show me the code.


Mark Percival  57:21

Yeah, I'd much rather have code. But you know, that's just my bias.


Anders Jensen  57:28

That's cool.


Brent Sanders  57:30

Reframe work, I think, for me, least on the UI paths, I would do someone's just like, my first question forever, I think from like, a straight month was like, Well, how do I, how do I get output? How do I like, return? Do I have to send a file on with like, the value? You know, it's like, just understanding the basic mechanics of what happens when this thing's done? Am I supposed to write that data to a database? It was so confusing to me?


Anders Jensen  57:59

Yeah, definitely. I think, like the Academy at UiPath, which is great, I can recommend you if you want to get started, go to the UI path homepage, they got a free Academy. That's really, really great. But I think they missed like an introduction or something to the UI framework.


Brent Sanders  58:16

Yeah, I think they've, I think they've added a module now. So I took a back in the day I took. Now the problem was, is like my personality, once I'm put into a learning management system. I just want to finish it as fast as possible. It's like, once you start showing me like quizzes and structured learning, I'm like, oh, I've got to get through this. You know, and I just rushed through things. I'm much more. I've always been, you know, learn how to code go into the bookstore picking up the first book I bought in high school was like, Visual Basic and 11 hours, it was one of these. I don't know if you guys remember these books that were like, you can learn anything. It's just one hour lessons or you know, 12 hours, you'll be a pro it.


Mark Percival  58:57

It's something you missed about the knockoff version that was 11.


Brent Sanders  59:02

four minute. Exactly. Yeah, it was a you know, it was I love you know, you kind of read and kind of, you hear about I remember we had Tom Taulli he had published like, back in the 80s. It was basically a computer game via magazine. It was like, you basically had to type in the code from the magazine, but I really did learn by doing really well. Like, in sadly, you know, that means StackOverflow is great for me, but you know, seeing examples and then like kind of coloring them yourself or typing in the stuff yourself. But I agree that UiPath Academy, there's something to be said for giving people a place where you can really send anybody in your organization and they will learn they will, like understand the basics. But obviously my mind is like I want to immediately get to Okay, how do I write How do I do? I want to search through the docs And, yeah, all that stuff's available. It's just,


Anders Jensen  1:00:03

And I think, like my YouTube videos that got a little bit different approach than the UI path Academy, because I don't have any presentations at all, I hate PowerPoints, I just like to give demonstrations. So my videos are just straight to the point. And you could, you could miss the documentation that you bring to you said you need so that, that I will say my videos lack a bit of but then you can just maybe google it or something. Can you recommend me anything I should learn to? To improve on my RPA journey? And maybe some of the other technical guys that listen to your podcast? What should we look at?


Mark Percival  1:00:41

Yeah, it's a good question. Um, yeah, I'd have to get, I have to come up with a list. I don't have one off the top of my head. I mean, there's not a ton of content on the podcast, I there is some, a lot of it's from the industry group. So like UiPath, and the rest. But I think you know, what we're most excited about is we're seeing some of the we've been paying attention to a lot of the a lot of the content that we're well, there's not a ton of content in the space in general, but we're paying attention to a lot of content from the newer stuff. So pretty excited about what's going on with like, RoboCorp and open RPA stuff. Obviously, still a small community there, though.


Anders Jensen  1:01:17

Yeah.


Brent Sanders  1:01:18

I really do think that the videos that I find the most helpful that are really the basics, it's like things that are overlooked, like literally, how do I output data? How could I, you know, what's an easy way and UiPath for me to send a post, you know, I just want to send this data onto something else, or, you know, sending email, you know, those are all common activities that I think are a little overlooked. And when I was diving into UiPath, which is probably closer to eight months, a year ago, I found some videos, but they're very hard to understand they were there. I don't really remember what the content was or who the author was, but it was there were a little bit of a bummer. And it was like I forget it, I'll just go another route. And you know me I'm super


Mark Percival  1:02:05

Well, that's the problem, right? You do have to find trouble is actually finding the good content on YouTube. So for me, it was like I found a bunch of stuff that was just not that great. And so but some of it was good. I, for me, the stuff that I liked that I thought resonated was Anders going back to what you had kind of mentioned your style, which is I want to see the actual process. I don't want it on a PowerPoint slide. I would just like to see them go through it live coding. That makes a lot more sense to me.


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