Blue Prism’s recent IPO prompted a wide range of “what next?” speculation, including the pros and cons of the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) pioneer being acquired by IBM to enable a combination with Watson’s cognitive capabilities. Both are leaders in their respective spaces and an acquisition would certainly enable a 1+1=3 scenario, but many other players in the space can make the same case. And regardless of any acquisition, any customer can now pair Blue Prism and Watson together.
Bringing the processing functionality of RPA together with a cognitive tool’s capability to deal with unstructured data and to learn to make decisions on its own can yield dramatic results. The key is selecting the optimal tools for the business need/objective and to then successfully pair those tools together. The software platforms in the RPA market at present are not “one size fits all” and the myriad solution types that fall under the umbrella term “cognitive” offer even more variety. For example, do you need a product that extracts data from unstructured, but patterned images? Or a tool for data mining and pattern recognition? Or one with learning algorithms that dynamically change business rules and allow the robots to self-manage? Or one with natural language processing and emotional intelligence capabilities? The list goes on.
Today’s market is undergoing a convergence, with some RPA companies investing in cognitive capabilities and some cognitive platforms seeking to add robotics to their product’s functionality. But it’s still very much a work in progress and navigating the waters of intelligent capabilities still requires considerable skill and an unbiased perspective.