Case Studies

Robotic Process and Intelligent Automation: History and Software Comparison Guide

A vendor-agnostic analysis for C-Suite Executives, Innovation Leads, and Internal Improvement Teams

There are lots of intelligent automation platforms out there.  

You only need one—the best one for your needs. 

This guide will help you choose.

Regardless of your industry, automation is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a strategic imperative. The competitive landscape—and your future-state roadmap—demand it. 

Choosing, however, among today’s popular competing platforms, unfortunately, isn’t easy. Naturally, each one will tell you that they’re the best for your needs… regardless of your needs. 

The Lab can help. Not only are we robotic process automation platform-agnostic, we’re also North America’s RPA expert, helping executives realize real-world outcomes, such as generating scale for acquisitions or mergers, redesigning organizations to control cost, and automating what was previously “un-automate-able.” 
The RPA vendors we describe inside this document might not agree with everything we say. But you will.  

Which of today’s popular platforms is best for your organization’s strategic vision?  

  • Cost? 
  • Capabilities? 
  • Ease of implementation? 
  • Training? 
  • Future roadmap?  

RPA: The early days  

Among competing platforms, RPA—the ability to automate multiple applications that were never designed to “talk to” each other—was on an equal footing as recently as 2017.  

The first mover in what’s known as “unattended automation” (it runs on its own on a server) was Blue Prism, based out of the UK. Although it was powerful, it was IT-centric—not very friendly for automating business-line tasks.  

Next on the scene was Automation Anywhere. Seeing the weaknesses of Blue Prism, they focused more on “attended automation” (click a button to commence an automation on a desktop) for business users to employ.  

Unfortunately, neither of these platforms had very good training. They were both hard to learn and use.  

Along came UiPath. They saw—and capitalized on—the strengths and weaknesses of both Blue Prism and Automation Anywhere. As designed, UiPath combined the powerful “unattended” automation of Blue Prism with the business-friendly qualities of Automation Anywhere. And, importantly, UiPath added world-class training—which they then gave away for free. 


The ground shifts  

It wasn’t just the training that UiPath gave away for free. It was also the application itself… with a catch. For consumers, it was free. For businesses, it was—and is—quite expensive (details in a minute).  

The free-consumer version of UiPath quickly democratized automation, leading to everything from automated contest-entries to bots posting dubious propaganda online… and lots of business-side advocates who clamored for it in their organizations.  

UiPath was riding high. It typically cost businesses $200k a year to get started. Little wonder that its value skyrocketed at the time of its IPO in 2021.  

But where was Microsoft all this time?  

Playing catch-up… to win 

Microsoft saw the value in automation—and specifically in UiPath—early. They tried to acquire the company, but a deal couldn’t be reached.  

And so Microsoft decided to go it alone.  

You’ve seen this movie before. Remember Tableau? It was a business-intelligence (BI) platform that had been a major player before Microsoft launched Power BI. It took Microsoft awhile, but they went from clunky and under-powered to class-leader slowly, surely, and inevitably.  

Today, that’s where RPA is headed, too, in the big-players battle between Microsoft and UiPath.  

The Lab’s recommendations

When Microsoft launched its own RPA, called Power Automate, in 2020, we couldn’t recommend it. But things played out as expected. 

Today, Power Automate can do 99 percent of the things that UiPath can, for a fraction of the cost. It’s lowered the barrier to entry for automation, in a huge way. 

Between these two big players, we’ll typically tell clients: If you already have UiPath, and can afford it (and can handle the upsell pressure from its sales reps), then you can stick with it. But if you don’t have any RPA software, you really already do: You can simply activate Power Automate, as part of your existing Microsoft licensing, with the flip of a switch.  

How The Lab helps organizations like yours

For more than three decades, The Lab’s standardization-centric process-improvement approach has helped C-Suite executives, technology leads, and internal improvement teams achieve their most pressing business objectives—from organization-wide transformation to launching automation or AI. 

We rapidly map your existing processes, comparing them to industry best practices, to design your most valuable future-state roadmap. 

Then we implement—our core competency. We’ll handle the process improvement. The business standardization. The intelligent automation. And the data strategy and analytics. So our core competency becomes your competitive advantage. 

Regardless of your industry, whether you’re looking to transform your organization, solve an urgent business problem, or simply begin with one of our popular automation or analytics “three-packs,” you can rapidly realize results—and benefits—while minimizing risk.

To book your screen-sharing demo with our friendly experts, simply call (201) 526-1200 or email today! 

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