UiPath hyped a market that simply wasn’t there. Now we must build one that's REAL - one we can TRUST

October 26, 2019 | Phil FershtElena ChristopherSaurabh Gupta

Let’s make no bones about it, this has been one sorry saga.  All we could do was warn the industry that cheesy marketeers, some lousy paid-for analysts and poorly-informed investors were forming a vicious web of bullshit that would take a solution with real potential and fake a market that bore no reflection of the one we originally dreamed up seven years ago.

And don’t say we didn’t warn anyone over the past year that the RPA market was in grave danger of being hyped out of existence:

So how can UiPath recover from this capitulation, a week after drawing the entire attention of the industry with its $8 million extravaganza in Las Vegas?  The trust is wafer-thin (or pretty much evaporated), people are worried, and some fired employees are sharing their agony and disappointment freely.  

10 ways UiPath's leadership can recover the trust of an industry that trusted them

1. Treat the market you help build with more respect.  Customers, prospects, partners, and the 500+ employees (or whatever number ultimately turns out to be real) you just sacked who believe(d?) in the vision and the brand.  Read from some of the employees who have risked their careers and families' livelihoods, just to see it all blown away in a few months.

2. Ask for help. Scaling a company and a scaling a relatively new software category are distinct challenges, made harder by them existing within the same company. Don't imperil a fledgling industry with your lack of experience in the former while you trailblaze the latter.

3. Be honest. We should not have to say this.

4. Stop taking schoolyard potshots at competition. Competition gives your brand context and creates a healthy market.

5. Stop counting customers. We will repeat this forever. Start showcasing scale of customers. We are all still learning.

6. Charge for what's valuable. Giving your product away or undercharging for it to create stickiness (while touting obnoxious customer numbers) is a road to nowhere. No one values free.

7. Apologize. Daniel's belated, smug response is insulting to anyone who's done business or is considering doing business with UiPath. Relationships are based on openness. That Daniel letter looks like an attorney wrote it.

8. Stup f-ing up the company and execute on the product roadmap because it's good. Elena's in progress POV after ForwardIII complimented the focus on enabling customers to do more with RPA - enabling functions like process identification and pipeline management, business benefit analytics, and more meat on the AI backbone. 

9. Quit the arrogance.  Releasing a Forrester Wave as the news of its layoffs broke, simply to drown out its layoff noise, where the analyst is clearly biased towards the firm (which also employs his son) just served to anger people who are craving some humility and less bragging.

10. Quit the "robotic butler nonsense". Let’s define what we mean by RPA scale versus counting number of bots.  "A bot for every employee" simply means "buy loads of our licenses". 

The Bottom-Line:  It's a marathon, not a sprint

Let’s build the white muscle capability to run the marathon versus red muscle capability to run the 100m dash.  A few key takeaways for all of us from this:

RPA vendors:  Not all of you are completely innocent of the same behaviors that have led to UiPath's troubles.  Be relieved this didn't happen to you, and make sure it still doesn't.  Focus on value, not potshots and hype.

Service providers and advisors:  Really be careful how you approach RPA alliances, as your choice of partner also reflects on you.

Analyst firm leaders:  If your analysts don't understand this space, then please stop bringing down the analyst industry with clearly flawed research and analysis. I've never seen analyst credibility reaching these depths before.

RPA users:  Use this as a segway to evaluate a multi-product integrated product strategy and do not throw all your eggs in one basket.  There are several excellent RPA, data ingestion, process mining and ML tools out there you need to embrace and integrate into your roadmap.

Posted in: Robotic Process AutomationArtificial IntelligenceRobotic Transformation Software

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1 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Jeremy Spicer
    Posted Oct 26, 2019 10:54 AM | Permalink Reply

    Very humbling post. Congrats Phil for telling like it is. Obvious conflict of interest with Forrester. How can they get away with that?

  2. Vartul Mittal
    Posted Oct 26, 2019 10:20 AM | Permalink Reply

    This is definitely non questionable to be at #1

    1. Treat the market you help build with more respect. Customers, prospects, partners, and the 500+ employees (or whatever number ultimately turns out to be real) you just sacked who believe(d?) in the vision and the brand. Read from some of the employees who have risked their careers and families' livelihoods, just to see it all blown away in a few months.
  3. Francis Carden
    Posted Oct 26, 2019 10:47 AM | Permalink Reply

    WOW. I feel more and more vindicated every day in my strong beliefs on what RPA is and is not. Some looked at me as if I was mad for my more ooutspoken posts and views. But I will hold firm in my beliefs. There is likely to be some poop hitting the fan over the next few months here because of this incredible whack to the overhype.

  4. Jamie Thomas
    Posted Oct 26, 2019 08:03 PM | Permalink Reply

    For those of us who were into this market early, we know the truth about GUI automation and how challenging it is to create resilient automated processes using this technology. I’ve been singing this song for years. Unfortunately the market realization/understanding is about to hit - which will leave a lot of distrust in the market. Hopefully some will understand that it’s the technology used and not process automation that’s broken, and continue towards an integrated and intelligent automation operational paradigm.

    Jamie Thomas

  5. Vijay
    Posted Oct 26, 2019 12:10 PM | Permalink Reply

    Nice to see someone calling out the "Humility" BS. Time to focus on quality and value. Market is naive, nascent and wide open. Multi-bot (similar to multi-cloud) should be the strategy for large enterprises to achieve scale with best of breed solutions.

  6. David Rombough
    Posted Oct 26, 2019 08:20 PM | Permalink Reply

    Building a market we can trust is, I believe, the critical point here. The extent to which vendors and service providers continue to press messages that this is a cheap and cheerful solution will only lead to increasing frustration and skepticism. I’m not try to seed unnecessary fear, uncertainty and doubt, but a little honesty about the challenges of driving an enterprise grade transformation enabled by technology would be nice.

  7. Jon Gilman
    Posted Oct 26, 2019 01:40 PM | Permalink Reply

    This is the truth. About 18 months ago, an analyst at one of the big firms joked with me that “A hard rain’s going to fall” on the RPA space. He’s right, it’s going to happen. Maybe not in the next 6 - 12 months, but it will happen. The best thing these unicorns can do is:

    1. Exactly what you wrote
    2. Expand their offerings to address deep, end-to-end process automation.

    Otherwise they will become punchlines at tech Happy Hours.

  8. Thomas Vazhavelil
    Posted Oct 26, 2019 10:24 PM | Permalink Reply

    It has been a “wild goose chase” with analysts at the helm. The paradigm shift to more integrated and $ ROI driven solution is in the making.

  9. Eric Chen
    Posted Oct 26, 2019 09:35 PM | Permalink Reply

    Great article. Any tech should have a healthy dose of transparency, competition and criticism.

    RPA as a tool can deliver a degree of value but the real transformation is where we can have an intelligent and democratized platform providing AI and #automl capabilities to all. Perhaps then, a 'bot for every worker' can ring true.

  10. Andre Fuochi
    Posted Oct 26, 2019 12:18 PM | Permalink Reply

    Couldn't agree more Phil. What I find galling is how other analysts are saying this is merely a simple course correction. That we should have expected layoffs along the way. All is fine and nothing to see here. Say that to those who just received pink slips at UiPath this week. Maybe Daniel Dines should worry less about trying to rebuild Notre Dame and provide a decent severance package. This isn't a game. Stop the HYPE already.

  11. Graham
    Posted Oct 27, 2019 07:42 AM | Permalink Reply

    Phil and team,

    Thank you for sharing what had to he said. One through 10 are all right on!

    Graham

  12. Alexander Gesell
    Posted Oct 28, 2019 08:00 AM | Permalink Reply

    Thanks Phil for this straight-forward words that everyone who’s in the industry for longer can subscribe on.

    I would add it’s not only the vendors, but also the customer‘s that were part of it.

    Nobody really wanting to transform business models, nobody really wanting to change core infrastructure to the next level, noone really pushing real adoption of models like one office.

    So in the short run it felt so save to put RPA in the front line & betting on it so much. Of cause on the long run, they really will need to change.

  13. Anon
    Posted Oct 28, 2019 10:32 PM | Permalink Reply

    Thank you for speaking out on those of us who have been let go. It is a reduction in force because they have no money and are trying to save face. They are giving people 1 week severance to be paid out in 60 days! why so long for 1 week worth of pay? ---> FOLLOW THE MONEY

  14. Another Anon
    Posted Oct 29, 2019 01:30 AM | Permalink Reply

    I also got the pink slip from UiPath. Why was marketing and sales virtually untouched? Because UiPath thinks they can have a huge Q4 and get enough revenue to survive a few more months. The arrogance is extreme. It got tiring to read everyday how AA “is a sh-t company” [quote from Dines]. AA didn’t just lay their workforce off, so not looking so “sh-t” now...

  15. Dennis Howlett
    Posted Oct 31, 2019 08:37 AM | Permalink Reply

    The problem that all these vendors face is the same - getting drunk on your own Kool-Aid only gets you so far before reality bites. In this case, the slimy underbelly of our industry is well and truly exposed in yet another BS-free story that Phil delivers in his unique and uncompromising way. As the saying goes, Carry On and Keep Calm.

  16. Dennis Howlett
    Posted Oct 31, 2019 08:40 AM | Permalink Reply

    Once again, Phil uses his blog to expose the slimy underbelly that has such a corrosive effect on our industry. We need a LOT more of this kind of writing that's off the research track and much closer aligned to the reality bites track. Keep at it...

  17. Greg Council
    | Posted Oct 31, 2019 06:27 PM | Permalink Reply

    AMEN! We constantly deal with the fallout of unrealistic expectations of our clients built upon promises and hype of set by RPA vendors. Automation is DIFFICULT!

  18. siananth
    Posted Nov 04, 2019 02:53 AM | Permalink Reply

    Having worked in RPA for about 2+ years, definitely such products are really useful. However the sad part is, to attach a financial benefit to automation is a lovely mess that these product vendors and analysts firms have intelligently sowed the seed on enterprise. thats BS. its an optimization tool that uses automation tool as lever. its a CIO tool than CFO toolkit. But F or G -or any of those firms- guess no one needs to know how they work

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