PODCAST -
#9 Automation Insider

UiPath & Microsoft partnership, Top 5 fails in citizen development & more!

UiPath & Microsoft partnership, Top 5 fails in citizen development & more!

Listen to this Podcast Episode

People in this Podcast

Guest
Andreas Zehent
Senior Director Strategic Customer Transformation
SAP
Nico Bitzer
MODERATOR
Nico Bitzer
CEO
Bots & People

Read the Summary

In today's episode of the Automation Insider, Nico and Andreas talk about the new partnership UiPath and Microsoft announced and explain what this means for the future of both companies.

Then they dive into the Top 5 reasons companies fail with their citizen development initiatives and how you can avoid them.

Besides these topics, there are many more you can look forward to and the typical learning of the week!

Enjoy listening! :)

Read the Transcript

Nico
Morning Andy and welcome everyone to our new episode.

Andreas
Good morning, Nico. First time that we say good morning.

Nico
Yeah, because usually we record after the whole working day and we thought that if we shift it to the morning we will be even more energized than usually.

Andreas
So yeah, let's see how the feedback will be. But I am motivated.

Nico
Me too. We already started to record this episode, but then the room service knocked on Andy's door because he's right now in?

Andreas
Bielefeld. It's actually existing. Yeah.

Nico
What are you doing in Bielefeld?

Andreas
Yeah, I have basically my friends and also I would say "Mitarbeiter". So basically people out of my team living here. Sometimes - I think we had that in one of our podcasts before - collaboration needs also basically meeting people, because in the end some things are done more efficiently when you meet and also in the end personal relationships, they are not only built through video conferences.

Nico
That's true. And then sometimes you meet in Bielefeld instead of Berlin. Fair point.

Andreas
So it was actually my first time in Bielefeld. Good, I've seen it. It's okay.

Nico
Okay, what's your favorite thing? Your favorite thing of Bielefeld, actually.

Andreas
It's a really nice city. They have also a small castle on the hill, so it's actually pretty nice to discover. It's not so big, I would say. Yeah, but the thing is for me, of course the highlight was meeting the people that I know and having a good outcome of what we did and having a nice time together. So I would say that is the best thing about it.

Nico
I try to find a segway into our topic for today and you gave me one. It's about people. And what we are talking about is also about people, because we will shed light on citizen development and the five biggest fails organizations can perform while implementing a citizen development approach. If you can even speak of implementing it. Or does it just happen? But before we dive into our main topic, we have some super important news from the automation market that we gonna share with you. Like always, a side note: You can always subscribe to the Automation Mag[azine] that we publish every two weeks on LinkedIn [and via mail]. There you can find some news [we discuss here] as well [but also more]. Question to you, Andy, what happened that nobody should miss in the automation space in the last two, three weeks.

Andreas
Okay, that's interesting. In the end, if you're interested, look into the Automation Mag. I think it's a nice summary. What we see in there is last time we talked already about AI and I think that AI can paint. And I think there's a nice story now in one of the Mags that is about reviving the dead. So I think that that's also a pretty cool story, because yeah, you get back Jimmy Hendrix, Michael Jackson and Kurt Cobain in the end. Nico, maybe you can explain how exactly this reviving the dead is looking like and what AI is doing to bring these people back to life.

Nico
It's hard to explain how it works. For me, it looks stunning. Pretty nice pictures. I'm right now looking at the older version of Jimi Hendrix. And what it is doing exactly, technically I cannot explain at the moment. It's just an artificial intelligence that predicts how those people would have looked when they got older. And I think it's just a really nice thing. Again, what AI and what technology is already capable to do. And for me, even surprising, that it's so advanced already. If you compare it to what we see in businesses, the use cases.

Andreas
Yeah. So in the Automation Mac, you can see a nice photo. I think it's Jimi Hendrix who is basically aged. So that's basically not his normal picture that's taken in the real world, but it's - I would assume - it's based on pictures of Jimi Hendrix and on pictures of old people. And AI is basically in the end making sure that they have a really realistic way how Jimmy Hendrix would look like when he is and - I'm not good in age guessing - but I would say between 60 and 70 years old in this case.

Nico
Yeah, for sure. And I saw this week on LinkedIn, another posting, maybe we will bring it in the next Automation Mag. To keep that AI topic in there, there's someone creating a game trailer completely with an AI. So just writing the script and it is creating out of it the music, the visuals and everything. And I find that super stunning that you just need to write the storyboard and AI is capable to turn it into a full movie.

Andreas
Yeah, nice. Then we run forward. Nico, I would say. So we have a little bit news about UiPath.

Nico
A little bit only? Yeah, maybe it will turn into bigger news.

Andreas
UiPath is very motivated about partnerships at the moment. I think we are discussing the why of it because in the end that will take a bit longer time. Of course, there is a strategy behind to have partnerships. There's a big partnership announced at the forward five. So the UiPath conference with Microsoft and of course UiPath is also looking towards the cloud and Microsoft is a hyperscaler. So there are basically some common cloud offerings to come from this relationship. Of course, great news. I'm sure that UiPath will not only partner with Microsoft, but there are more partnerships that make them valuable as normally or on more than one hyperscaler. And of course, UiPath was always a company that relied a lot on partnerships and ecosystem. And this is a big part of their success story, I would say.

Nico
Yeah, I was super interested because most companies I see at the moment, they have a dual vendor strategy between Microsoft and UiPath. A lot of have exactly this tech stack because from the one side, workplace management. Microsoft has a very strong entrance into the companies and people use Power Automate. And on the other side, UiPath is more on the management level, implemented from top down. And now we see this partnership where they also stated, and this is for me - I mean that they run it on the Microsoft cloud, on Azure, that's okay - but the other two points that caught my attention where: Did they integrate the automation tools? Or I have at least a plan to integrate the automation tools and I'm super thrilled how that would look like. And for me to say it in a naive tone of voice, why do they partner and integrate so close with one of the strongest competitor and this works vice versa?

Andreas
Yeah, to be honest, this is a good question. There is not a short answer to it. No, there are many reasons. There is one short answer, that's for sure a good reason, but it's not all the reasons in one. And there is a lot, of course, buzz and in the end marketing around that because everyone is talking about it like we do and there's lots of articles about it. And that means UiPath has good press and Microsoft is a good brand. So in the end, UiPath is also leveraging the brand in a certain way. They are getting recognized for being an enterprise tool and things like that. So it's good. On the other side, there is also always the question what's coming beyond that kind of marketing? Because I would actually not assume there will be a huge effort to technically integrate Microsoft and UiPath also because that will be something that's dependent on time. So if Microsoft is not buying UiPath at a certain point of time, they are still competitors and then it's either ending up in a divorce later and they are back to a competitor mode or they really make it into some kind of a scenario where Microsoft takes over UiPath because in the end everything else is not a sustainable situation.

Andreas
Because now there are two,and as you said it, there are two competitors partnering. And not always the interest of UiPath is the interest of Microsoft. So let's see how this develops and where this will go to.

Nico
I think we saw similar strategies with Skype and others, but hey, let's see what the future brings. One more thing that happened in the automation market was, yeah a lot of conferences. So if you want to go on conferences now, it's the season for it. There was the FORWARD 5 in Las Vegas from your UiPath. There was also a conference called All Eyes on Automation from Roboyo. Also you can check it in LinkedIn. Super interesting presentations from practitioners from the whole world. I found it super cool.

Andreas
And great people with great content actually. So there was a lot beyond, I would say marketing and really, I would say knowledge of practitioners. That's what I really liked about the Roboyo conference.

Nico
Cool. Okay then, I think that's enough news for today and we keep it a little bit spicy and short for you today. So the next topic, as promised, is citizen development and we summarize the top five mistakes or top five failures for citizen development. And yes, let's just go through the points from point to point. You can start, Andy, and then we discuss each point and I can take the second.

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Andreas
Yes, so we always phrase it a bit with the fail because the episode is named about the five fails. But of course we will also talk about what you need to establish to make it work. And that's why the first thing is "organizations fail to establish the right roles and responsibilities". And I think that is really a key part. So you cannot just basically take a technology and it's every technology and I think it's not only limited to the no code local space, but especially there when you want to democratize it, when you want to have lots of people embedded in your delivery and you want to really scale it. That means there is a need for really defining the operating model, to define in the end who is responsible for what, who needs to contribute what. And there needs to be that kind of clarity on how we are executing as a bigger team. And in the end this says we don't need everywhere a chief citizen developer or a chief citizen development officer or it's not about having titles and putting someone on a throne, but it's about defining the groups that need to contribute. And having these roles and responsibilities clarified and also clearly communicated to everyone.

Nico
And what I want to add especially to the roles and responsibilities, it depends also how you interpret the term citizen development and how you want to have it in your company. So I like to see it as three variants of citizen development. There is the guerilla approach where you call a citizen developmenr someone who similar to, or even someone who writes an excellent macro could be called a citizen developer. Everyone who uses technology to some extent to make the life easier, the work easier. This is like the first level of citizen development. Second level of citizen development would be someone who is doing it kind of part time in the company. So let's say the leader says you are very good in technology. You get a UiPath license, a Studio X, let's call it, and you get 30 or 40% of your time to help others in your team develop technical solutions. And this person probably has already done a reporting line, dotted reporting line to the It department, different level of governance, different level of citizen development. And the third level, what you can question if it's still citizen development, that would be an RPA developer, or API developer or low code developer, or how you call it, in a department, for example, in HR, but this person is doing it full time. And maybe this person even has a technical background.

Andreas
Yeah, I think there are different philosophies. For me having one dedicated developer, but the reporting line is not into IT, this is for me not the criteria of citizen development, because it's also not scale. It's still one person only. The reporting line is different. I think there are more clever ways how to do that. But also I would say I would not go into the other extreme and say one robot for every person, because it's not suitable. It's not suitable for everyone to do robots or to automate. It needs to really fit. And I think we will park that for a while because we have other fails. Everyone can contribute. It may be a misleading way on how to think about it.

Nico
Okay, so we have the first point, roles and responsibilities. The second point is related to that, which is governance. So companies fail to establish a governing body or committee taking care of citizen development. There are some people believing that the less governance you put at it, the better and the more can happen in citizen development. But it needs to stop at a certain point. You cannot give everyone every access and everyone the responsibility, the right to work on every system and every API, because with great power comes great responsibility. And you also need to take care of your system and take care of your It landscape.

Andreas
And I would say it's not only the threat to basically being compliant. I think this is important and in security aspects, cybersecurity and everything. Also data access, GDPR, so data security. There are so many topics that are important and that you need to think about, but it's also going beyond that, I would say. So it's very important to understand the risks, to manage the risks of implementing and also thinking regarding your, I would say whole architecture, your system landscape, you don't want to create a lot of technical depth, you don't want to get into any trap because that on the other side can lead to the architecture being not flexible anymore. And basically I would say enforcing that the status quo is the status quo, not being able to move away from it anymore, then this is exactly the opposite of a lean architecture that you would in the end create. Now there are a lot of people who do enterprise architecture management that implement lean IX or other solutions. And on the other hand, everyone can do basically in the shadow IT solutions 2.0 then this also doesn't make so much sense. So that's why there needs to be a concept around it, there needs to be a governance established and I think this is a very crucial step to have.

Nico
Okay, the next point is, after compliance, roles and responsibilities, I try to make it structured for you, is that organizations fail to orchestrate the value of citizen development. What do we mean by that?

Andreas
Yeah, so in the end, classically, when we go into automation, we always think about business cases. So whenever, maybe not in the system citizen development, but when we started to do workflows and robots and any kind of solutions, but also when you're doing a big system implementation like SAP or Salesforce or workday or whatever, you would build a business case and think about does it make sense to implement it? Do I gain more than I need to put in as an effort? And in the end that also needs to apply for the citizen development because we need to make sure that when we are building automations there is a benefit in it. And there's not a benefit if I automate a work that's only occurring one time for myself and it's never going to come back. And the work would have taken me 2 hours, but the automation takes me 6 hours, then I wasted 4 hours. So there is basically more effort to create the automation than saving. And in the end we need to be aware of whatever we are doing. Okay, does it make sense to make this investment? And also not only the time, sometimes you have investment into some externals that need to support you.

Andreas
Whether it's a developer or an analyst or a specialist or whatever you need, you have license cost and that's coming back also to the part of: Do I really want to give a license of each tool to everyone in the company? So does it make sense? Is everyone in the company of 100.000 people means I need 100.000 licenses and maybe for multiple tools. So 100,000 times UiPath, 100.000 times SAP user, 100.000 times maybe some kind of Microsoft power platform user or others, then this is of course a huge cost that's occurring. And in the end I need to see is this coming back or does it make sense to have selected people? Yes, I want to scale it. I don't want to have that one team in IT that's doing it with three people. So I need to decentralize it and I need to, in the end, have a citizen developer concept. But does it really make sense now to invest hundreds of thousands or maybe millions into licenses? And is this really coming back?

Nico
Super interesting. Andi you were talking about mostly now the value in terms of money. I also see the term value even broader. I know we both see it broader, but this is important to reflect as a company. If you go into that field of citizen development, do I want to make the company more efficient, faster, save time of the employees because of demographic change or whatever? Or do I want to even implement citizen development to make people smarter, reskill, upskill people? This can be a value and goal itself. And that's important. Just I think the most important thing is to know what value you want to get out of it and then calculate a business case out of it, be it monetary or be it in terms of skills and digitization.

Andreas
Absolutely. So there are so many different kinds of value. Yes, it can be derisking something, it can be being faster, it can be employee experience or customer experience. So there are different forms. And we also need to be aware when we have a target picture of our company in five years or in ten years, do we really want to be in a stage where no one in the company, no one in the company really has technology skills? So do we want to be in that situation or do we need to take that path? Also from the point of view that we need to be a learning organization and certain topics will be so important in future. And we know that we need to have more automated processes in five years and ten years and then find the right way how to get there. So that is for sure also part of the mindset.

Nico
Yeah, it's a long term investment and you cannot bet on implementing, whatever that means, citizen development in January and get a positive return on invest in terms of FTE saving in June. That would be a fatal mistake because then you stop the initiative before it started.

Andreas
Yeah, so I think this is a really good picture, all that kind of space of process improvement, process management, process mining, process automation, everything that we have in that space. So number one, it needs always an improvement in the value focus. So we're not doing it for having processes documented or for having process mining implemented because there is no benefit out of that directly. We always need to take action and really improve something in our company. And that comes with technology change and with people change. But in the end it's sometimes a little bit like going to the gym. So you start your initiative and basically day number one you go to the mirror and you don't see anything. So it takes a while. But if you know you are doing the right thing and you have people that help you, you have a coach that tells you, okay, this has worked with others and that's a good way how to do it and that's what you need to look for. Then you can see that progress over time. You cannot see the progress from yesterday to today or to tomorrow morning, but you can see the progress from last year to this year and you can see it in the bigger steps.

Andreas
And that's why sometimes doing the right thing is also related to having that kind of patience and not each day measuring the FTEs.

Nico
Totally agree. So we have the orchestration of value. The next point, which is the fourth point already, is "underestimating the skill set".

Andreas
Yeah, absolutely. So of course there is a skills needed to make it happen and it's different skills. So it's sometimes more still that in the end I don't want to talk about no code so much because we are not in every area able to really do no code. Because no code means there's basically already a solution existing and I only need to configure it a bit. But besides that, you need skills to think about: Okay, how does the process needs to run, how do certain things need to flow? So you need to have that kind of understanding and you still need a certain kind of technical skill set to, in the end, make it work. So when you think about, especially when you look into RPA or also when you do an excell macro or anything like that, and you're not having any technology skill, it's hard to do. You can learn it. I don't say that you can't learn it, but there's still some investment to get into it. And there's even a little bit of a science, I would say behind because to create a basic automation and to create a really good automation that's stable and that's efficient. This is from my perspective, a different game.

Nico
Yeah, true. And I would also say that it's super important to engage the right people with citizen development. There's this super cool video I talk very often about. It's "the first follower principle", where it's about getting enthusiasts on board in the first place and not the skeptic people. So besides what you are saying that it's a huge difference between the tools and what you expect to build. Do you want to have a simple power automate flow between Excel and Outlook or do you want, which is two clicks basically, or do you want to automate an End-To-End process? That's a whole other game. But on the other hand, it's also important to have people that are motivated, that are curious and those are the ones also, and I would also include it in the skill set, those are the ones you should start with. And don't underestimate the skill set in terms of what do I need and what do I need to build something. But also how motivated do I need to be to build something.

Andreas
To be honest, for me it's not so much about the skill set at the beginning but you need to develop people and you need to hire the right people and I think we have that already multiple times in the podcast. You need to change your hiring profiles if you want to be more focused on processes and more focused on making your processes lean and work and if you want to automate your processes, that's a different skill set than someone that has only studied - sorry for that of course - it's a science itself and it's very valuable to have studied tax, but if you have basically in brackets only studied tax, that doesn't make you very, I would say trending towards process improvement and automation. So maybe you need to rather find a skill set, either you need to find different people and diverse people for your organization that you have different skill sets and one is more really the book knowledge and others it's more problem solving and process oriented or you need to find more combined skill sets because you have that young digital native people that maybe also have interest in something like tax or transfer pricing but they also are interested in technology and that means changing.

Andreas
And then in a second way, if you have people internally, why do you invest hundreds of thousands euros into licenses and you're not investing in your people? So in the end, then you're not getting the return on investment that doesn't make sense. In the end, if you don't have there a concept to equally invest in technology and into people. You will not make it work.

Nico
Yeah. I would completely agree and in particular liked the point is that you have to take care of what kind of people I choose for citizen development. Also in terms of hiring and maybe from my experience, one thing you could ask in a conversation, in a hiring conversation is: If you would need to work in a CRM system and you wouldn't have an onboarding, what would you do? And you need the people that say: I would dig into it. I would contact support. I would go into the tool myself rather than or I would ask for help, including my colleagues to get better in the system. So it's mostly the citizen developments are the pioneers and that's more important than being a tax expert or something like this.

Nico
Okay, then we have our fifth and last point for the biggest failures in citizen development. I look at Andy, because we have three more points, but we want to keep it short and leave. Two of those three you would choose?

Andreas
Yes, I think the others are anyhow more a summary that are below. We have for sure "the organizations do not define the evaluation criteria for success" and also "measure success and measure return on investment". And that's of course coming back to the value. So we had the value at the beginning that we say we need to define what value is, we need to make sure that we have a business case before we invest, but also later when we execute, we need to measure what do we have achieved and did we do the right things and reflect and have a retrospective. And also their value is not only financial dimension, but we need to know the success criteria, we need to measure it and we need to follow up.

Nico
Do you have a tip for companies how they could do it?

Andreas
Yeah, to be honest, there is an easy way how to start. There's an easy way with a SharePoint or with an Excel list or with anything like that. And say especially when I'm not fully decentralized, whenever I do automation, I list it and I put in what do I have achieved? You don't need to make a science out of it, but I think it's still good to see that when you progress and you're having a stable pipeline in place, you would anyhow start for each robot license that you do to check basically either in a more central concept or even in a citizen developer concept. Okay, I've handed out a license for that license. I have a reason. So there is someone who needs to automate something. So in the end can I track later? And I can do that by automation. Whenever he has an automation built, I try to get a little bit of feedback that's a ten minute call and see, okay, what's the benefit of it? Or I can do a quarterly meeting and check actually what we have running. But you can also do it data driven. So you can go in the orchestrator or you can implement BI or process mining.

Andreas
This is not a lot of data that you need there, but you can measure in the end what did you achieve? And I think this is where we need to come that's really I would say then as a maturity that we need if we want to make citizen development work overall, we need to create that transparency and the transparency very often, also I would say companies start at the technical level, they monitor the stability of the solutions, which is great, but we also need to monitor the execution that we have. The development. We need to monitor the progress. We need to monitor the value that we generate because that helps us to grow the topic, because if we can prove we are successful, we can prove it has a huge impact. The topic will grow because it will get attention. It will get funding and we also know we are on the right track so it's basically helping us to navigate forward.

Nico
Yeah, absolutely. Okay.

Andreas
Maybe Nico shortly because he said we have three points so only not to leave the people basically back, but it's basically the summary so we said we need to check the value. We need to be always value based on how we go forward we cannot look at it only from a technical perspective but really move into the people aspect in the training of it and we also said at the end. It needs for every company a bit of a unique approach because it needs to fit to the company. To what they want to achieve and to their structures to make it really work.

Nico
Super nice. Yeah, we had the mistakes. Now you gave a qualitative summary. I also want to repeat the five points and I try to make it super, super short. So you need to have "roles and responsibilities", "governance", "values defined", "skill set" or focus on skill set what is the skill set you need? And you need to "measure the value continuously". How do you like that summary, Andy?

Andreas
It was very short and precise with ongoing Nico. And now I think we have repeated it so often that everyone knows it while they're sleeping.

Nico
Yes, hopefully you can put it under your pillow as a manifestation. Cool. Then for the end what is left like always is our learning of the week. Have you thought about it on the sitting in the Bielefeld hotel room? What is running through your head?

Andreas
Yeah, so maybe I'm really taking a learning still. I think last time we talked about that I was in the US for a couple of weeks and I had lots of learnings coming out of that. It's starting with the availability of small things actually that have a big impact and what I for example realized, I've been rather in the east, west and south of the US, that I missed something that has a big impact on my life and health and that was water quality. So to be honest it's very simple and you think about it now Germany here you get the best spring water from a small town on the land side I can get it off of the tap and it's really great water and very often you get in the US purified water or basically somehow cleaned water but it's not the real spring water. Then they put chlorine and then other things into it and then they basically make out of that nonoptimal water they make coke and you get the tap. From the tap you get the Coke, and then number one, you have a lot of sugar. Number two, the water itself is not so healthy.

Andreas
And then on top of that, always air conditioning everywhere. And to be honest, I could feel that I was not that energized and healthy when I was coming back from five weeks US. I'm still thinking about that. And health, I think, is a big topic. And that's why, yeah, this is a learning small things like having nice spring water available every day, which we say is convenience. Like hell. Actually it's not convenience over on the world. And I'm not talking about Africa or somewhere, even in a country like the US. It's not the standard everywhere.

Nico
And in general, health, right? So the conditions around it. I recently saw a video from someone living for several weeks in Italy and before in the UK, and she stated that she feels much more healthier in Italy because the food is fresher and not so processed than in the UK. Also she eats pizza and pasta as well. But it's about the ingredients, about the circumstances, the sun and everything that you have in your life. That's a super cool learning. I learned also something interesting. My dog ran away last week, because I had a delivery guy coming and left the door open and jumped back to a call and then the dog ran away and I was completely panicking. And I learned how important an animal can be for a human. Sounds a little bit cheesy, but he is now living one and a half years now with us, the dog. And I took him already for granted. But when I saw that he ran away, then I got really, I realized how important such an animal can be for a human. And of course I found him in the "Hinterhaus" (back house).

Andreas
A good end to the story.

Nico
It's a happy end.

Nico
Okay, cool then. Thank you so much, Andy. And to our listeners, we see or we hear each other in two weeks. Greetings to Bielefeld.

Andreas
Thank you very much. Greetings to Berlin and have a nice week. We hear each other.

Nico
Yes.

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Thank you very much for your time. We hope you enjoyed today's episode of the Bots and People Automation Insider podcast with Andreas and Nico. If you're interested in listening to experiences and opinions from people directly shaping the industry, feel free to tune into our tandem format, the Automation Talk. There we talk to inspiring personalities such as the inventor of process mining, Will Van der Aalst, Celonis founder and CEO Bastion Nominacher or Walter Obermeier from UiPath, just to name a few.

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