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UiPath and Microsoft Power Automate dispute each other’s market leadership in robotic process automation software (measured by annual growth). Especially from 2017, they show a steep growth in the number of customers, which also translates into the estimated valuation of the company at USD 8 billion. In fact, this makes it one of the largest companies in the global AI landscape. Specifically for Belgium and the Netherlands, UiPath is a dominant player, with a small caveat for the financial sector where BluePrism has historically established a strong position.

UiPath is a good choice for any organization that wants to take advantage of the possibilities of RPA. Regardless of whether it is an initial tentative proof of concept or a thorough automation involving a large number of employees and processes.
The low entry threshold and broad application possibilities make it relatively easy to build up experience quickly and establish a good business case in the short term. Provided developments are done with sufficient thought, the UiPath platform also contains all the components to be deployed at any scale.

The pros and cons

Benefits

Low entry threshold

Getting started with UiPath does not require large investments. For smaller organizations and for evaluation purposes, a free “community” version can be downloaded. The great thing is that this version already includes all the features of the paid version. Purchasing the paid-for “enterprise” version need not encounter major financial concerns either, with annual license fees for the basic set-up around €5,000. That may be a lot more expensive than Microsoft Power Platform in some cases, but Power Platform is still too limited in terms of functionality for many companies, even for simple applications.

Comprehensive training and support

In addition to making the community version available free of charge, the training materials are also available free online in the UiPath Academy. There are certificates associated with completing the various training modules, which can be obtained when online tests are passed with positive results. To complement the Academy, there is also a very active UiPath Forum where developers find each other for questions and to exchange experiences. Customers with a paying license can also call on UiPath’s own support services, similar to a traditional help desk.

User-friendly development and user interface

UiPath’s user interface is quite user-friendly and simply constructed. Processes are presented in a Visio-like workflow that makes it easy to keep track. Activities can be selected from a library via drag and drop, where they can be found via a convenient search function. Provided it is thoughtfully constructed, modules that recur in different processes can be reused without much effort. Furthermore, UiPath has recorder functionality that allows it to record the way a human user executes a process and use that basis as a starting point for the actual automation.

Attended and unattended

Attended and unattended are terms often used when talking about RPA. In short, this involves the distinction between an end user who directly controls the bot and interacts with it to some extent, versus a bot that invisibly completes a process behind the scenes, often scripted. Both scenarios are supported by UiPath, and within one environment the combination of both types is also possible.

Cons

Simplicity versus robustness and scalability

The low entry threshold and comprehensive support make UiPath a preferred starting point for an RPA journey for many. However, as soon as security, robustness, scalability and related performance increase in importance for deployment in a corporate environment, the need for an experienced partner and/or a longer learning curve increases. In particular, setting up an Orchestrator, a kind of super-bot that directs, monitors and coordinates all the other bots must be deliberate.

.Net based, but vigilance required

The UiPath software is based on the .Net platform. Therefore, the syntax of variables and formulas are consistent with this, and developers with experience in these have a step ahead. However, subtle differences pop up here and there that require attention to ensure proper functioning of the bot.

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