Welcome to our Stellar Keynote Recap Series!
As part of the 1st Annual Pathfinder Community Space Camp & Generative AI Showcase, we’re hosting live sessions with Community MVPs and industry experts to share the latest developments in intelligent automation—especially Generative AI!—and provide you with learnings and resources to drive success at scale. If you don’t have the chance to attend the live session or want to come back to reference some of the critical mission information that was discussed, we’ve captured key intel from each session to share with you!
Day 3 Stellar Keynote
In this session, Automation Anywhere’s SVP of Community & Learning, Kristen Engelhardt, led an insightful conversation with two automation experts and Pathfinder Program members, Jochen Loser, Head of Business Transformation at Ricoh, and Bomsi Billimoria, Managing Director & Head of Digital Process Transformation and Expense Management at Cantor Fitzgerald. They shared a wealth of information on everything you need to know about the Pathfinder Program and how to leverage the program and community to scale your own intelligent automation program.
💫 Main Intel: At inflection points in your program growth, whether it’s managing the way automation opportunities come in, or to keep scaling your success, the Pathfinder program can provide structure, best practices, and peer expertise to give you the help you need.
Bomsi: I first heard about the Pathfinder Program from Kristen at our Customer Advisory Board. For us, we were doing a lot of work related to automation but not managing it effectively. We had some issues regarding pipeline management and ideations, as well as prioritizing what we were automating.
Jochen: When we started in 2019, we chose a federated development model utilizing citizen developers that we trained. It was tough at the beginning to find the right processes. We started with processes that were way too big to automate. To add to that, we were migrating from v11 to A360. Over time, we’ve seen a big increase in the productivity of our developers, so once we saw that hockey stick curve from our efforts, we started looking at what we needed to do next to continue to scale. That’s where our great account team at AAI came in and said we can help you with the Pathfinder Program.
💫 Main Intel: Tell your story. Enabling a growth mindset is so critical when we’re focused on the build and delivery of our program, especially because we’re not natural marketers. When in reality it’s a powerful story to tell about the thousands of dollars and hours saved.
Jochen: Out of the 7 missions for scale, we have chosen 3. We were using delivery processes that were built for ERP, so they were quite complex, slow, and rigid. That was a main reason why I brought my team into the Pathfinder workshop to discover what we could optimize and do better in the delivery, so that was the first mission selected. Then, what we forgot to do along our journey with intelligent automation, was not just to do good work, but also to talk about it! We had been focused on our work so intently, we missed the growth mindset of going out and telling our organization that we were doing great work. So that became the second mission focus—harnessing that growth mindset, creating a bit of fear of missing out in the business, and celebrating our bot builders for all their contributions toward the success of our program and the business overall. And finally, we were working with citizen developers and having to turn down smaller requests that came to us because we only had the bandwidth to focus on the larger projects with larger business impact. We had to reconsider how we could grow more in citizen development, so we took on that mission third.
Bomsi: Before onboarding with the Pathfinder program, we had to think hard about exactly what we wanted to improve and we determined 2 missions we wanted to focus on, the first being establishing a growth mindset within the organization, and the second was to optimize our pipeline. When we started in 2018, our automations were based on requests coming in and prioritized simply based on who came first. Later, only the people we reached out to or came directly to us were submitting ideas, but none of the larger organization (which encompasses 3 different companies) were getting involved. So we were struggling quite a bit with pipeline.
Automation is a Journey not a Destination
💫 Main Intel: Any action plan is a journey. You can achieve so much in a set timeframe, but then you know you have a blueprint for moving forward as well.
Bomsi: I was absolutely surprised by the results of the 90-day action plan we created out of our Pathfinder Workshop, but they were all good surprises. The communications package was a critical outcome—there was a lot of great work done between Cantor Fitzgerald and AAI to create that and it has been so helpful. Engaging a couple of stakeholders in our organization, based on your recommendation, to get feedback was also a super critical thing for us to implement. I was surprised by the metrics work we also did. The AAI team provided great insights on how we could build those metrics and communicate them. Then the biggest surprise was getting our Ireland office engaged and we saw 30% growth directly from that office compared to our US office. AAI introduced us to the concept of the elevator pitch and I’ve been making use of that frequently. I never really expected to be engaging with front office people in this manner, but the communication package that we sent out has generated such great results and impact.
Jochen: We have invited all the bot builders to a workshop in Barcelona as part of the wrap of the 90 day action plan, where we really want to work with them and have them engaged in on our growth, telling us what they’d like to see changed in our development life cycle. We wanted a much shorter development life cycle with clearer responsibilities and expectations from the bot builders, and from the businesses. That became clear in our 90 day plan, that we needed a better understanding of each role and their responsibilities. Also what we did from the learnings and workshops, we’ve been introduced to the concept of a repeatable “bot shell” and AAI’s code analyzer, and want to leverage these in our development now. As Bomsi mentioned with the elevator pitch, getting out there and marketing our program is something we’ve learned from our cohort calls that we attend every 2 weeks. These have given us so many new ideas and things we can work on. We will still be working past the 90 days but happy with the progress so far.
💫 Main Intel: Being able to connect in a cohort with your peers is such a unique opportunity, and the time you put in, you most certainly will get back out.
Jochen: Cohort calls are every 2 weeks with a nicely organized agenda. What I appreciate most is the environment: it’s a group of peers and other companies with whom we can speak openly about our issues and challenges. We can also celebrate each other’s milestones and big wins, and get inspired by our peers who attend the calls. One thing that came up was about a digital worker bot. Another organization had created a page that showed the bots that had been built and the problems they solved, and that inspired us. Now this is something we are doing! We wanted to show off our 50 bots and what they were doing. Another thing we have discussed was about going out and establishing a growth mindset, how we can spread the word and engage with our lines of business, our leaders, our C-suite.
Bomsi: One thing I want to impress upon everyone is that you really get from the Pathfinder Program what you put into it. For me, I was skeptical in the beginning and didn’t think I would gain the value of my time, but I realized that as I put in more time to work with the AAI team and my peers, the more I actually reap the benefits. One valuable takeaway in particular has been regarding metrics. We were not generating metrics the way we should have been. And I learned a lot from the cohort members about what they are doing to present their metrics and sell their automation journey internally. So our metrics have drastically changed from what we were sharing in the beginning to what we share now. We produce them monthly, send them to the bot owners and their managers, summarize them for the C-suite, which we weren’t doing in the past. Another thing I took from my cohort peers that we’re getting ready to launch later this year is shifting from an outsourced CoE to bring it internally. Also participating in the other meetings and the annual Imagine conference has made a big difference, or even picking up the phone and calling one of my peers. It’s a night and day difference thanks to the Pathfinder Program.
Kristen: We’ve seen 130% growth of Pathfinder community in the past year, so every day it’s an even greater knowledge sharing ecosystem.
Blast Off With the Automation Success Platform
💫 Main Intel: The Automation Success Platform has tools to bolster your automation program’s efforts. Ensure you know all of the capabilities at your team’s disposal.
Jochen: In our workshop, we were introduced to Process Discovery and using its task mining tech. We thought about where this would be a good fit for a proof of concept. So we did an initial kick off with a small team, the product was installed, and after only 1-2 days of data, the AAI account team was able to show us eye-opening things. The tools people were using surprised us. The most interesting finding was that the sticky notes application was the most widely used to copy and verify data between 2 applications. This obviously represented an opportunity for automation. It gave us a great next step for automation and modification of the tools that can be read by bots.
Bomsi: I was introduced to Document Automation and we’ve now automated all invoices for our A/P team using DocAI. We just went live with it in the US and in a few months will push globally. We are also working on internal approvals to implement CoE Manager next quarter, which we were just introduced to. I think it will be so helpful to manage outputs, metrics, as well as our pipeline.
Live Community Questions
- Is the Pathfinder community mostly for better managing and organizing medium to large deployments - or is it helpful to grow small deployments in an organization?
- Customers are in all different stages of maturity. Pathfinder definitely spans the spectrum, but it really depends on you and what you want to accomplish, and that’s what the 7 missions for scale are all about. In fact, the very first mission is kickstarting and building your team for quick success. So for people just starting out, this is the mission you probably want to focus on. Pathfinder is a community program so there’s no price tag to it.
- Where can we find info about the Pathfinder program and 7 missions? What is the criteria to engage an AAI team to pursue 1 or more missions?
- The Pathfinder digital program is available to anyone at anytime. Here is a link to learn more about the Pathfinder program. I also want to share our brand new Pathfinder Maturity Assessment. We do this in the live workshops, but we just published it live online this week so you all can take the assessment online, together with your team. If you have a CSM or AE, let them know you’d like Pathfinder onsite and they will work with you to make that happen. It’s the same thing with getting involved in a peer cohort. You do the workshop, take the assessment, choose your missions, and then you are placed into a cohort with your peers.
- How do I sign up for a local or industry-specific group with other customers for events or meetups in the community?
- You can join a User Group right away. We meet quarterly online (virtually) by region, and then we do city-based user groups where we come to your city, share a meal, and meet with your peers. Two really easy ways to get engaged!
- Can you mention an example related to the health care industry and how you’re supporting the quality of care and so on?
- Our customers in the health care are the ones supporting the quality of care. Our job is to support their goals through automation and one of my favorite examples is the work we did with the largest healthcare system in the UK. They were one of our early adopters of the Pathfinder Program. Their goal is exceptional patient experiences and in order to optimize patient care, they looked at what they could automate on the back end to do that. They also wanted to use a citizen development model to support that scale. They started with 50 citizen developers, and through the Pathfinder Program we helped them put a training path in place and build a community of practice and now they are scaling that across their organization.
- Would love to know tips to optimize pipeline ideation.
- Follow this link to Pathfinder digital, and you can find best practices in there for pipeline optimization and you can access all the Pathfinder goodies in there right away. In addition, of course, to connecting to your AE or CSM and saying hey I want to participate in the Pathfinder Program.
- To what extent can we use AI at Automation Anywhere?
- There is a generative AI showcase this week through our community-led conference! We had an Ask-Me-Anything session with Peter White, so you can watch that at your leisure. We also have Bot Games Generative AI edition going on right NOW! This is a series of hands-on challenges that we’re putting out once a week for three weeks. You can start working with our Open AI Generative AI package in Bot Store, level up your skills, and participate in the competition with your global peers—there’s 3,000 who usually participate—or you could also bring the challenges into your organization.
- What are the criteria or factors to include a process in the pipeline? Are they related to ROI?
- A high level answer is a 3-beat formula: complexity, risk, and value. The sweet spot of high value, low complexity, low risk is always where we encourage people to start. But definitely access the Pathfinder digital resources and a user group where we talk about that.
- What would be the appropriate maintenance for bots already created over time?
- We always recommend visiting the developer spaces on our Pathfinder community, we have so many best practices there.
- Colorado is not shown as part of any User Groups, which would you join?
- Join the West Region User Group, we’d love for you to be part of that!
- Are all of the Bot Games for this year going to be AI themed challenges?
- I can’t speak for the rest of the year, but right now, the season happening these next three weeks, yes they are all AI themed.
Take our brand new Pathfinder Maturity Assessment online. We’ve made the same assessment we do in our workshops available as a free online tool for our Pathfinder Community! Gather your team to rate your automation program across our 5 pillars and walk away with valuable insights and actionable guidance to accelerate your growth.