A Defining Moment: Our Work Supporting IEEE Standards

By Bart Peluso

More than 130 years ago, a small group of individuals working in the newly emerging electrics industry gathered in New York to explore the latest innovation shaping society at the time – electricity.

The group, which would expand and evolve over the course of the next several decades, is what we now know as the IEEE – the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing innovation and technological excellence for the benefit of humanity. In December 2016, the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) approved a project to build a standards framework around the latest innovation impacting the ways in which we live and work: intelligent process automation (IPA).

The newly formed IEEE P2755 Working Group, of which Blue Prism is a founding member, has initially focused on defining the terminology that describes the full range of technologies in the field of services automation. These include robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing and machine learning. To the automation novice, it can be hard to differentiate these related technologies, especially when it comes to how they operate in an organizational setting. While all the automation technologies under this IPA umbrella are known for their power to optimize performance and reduce costs, they are by no means created equal.

Establishing a common nomenclature around the rapidly-evolving automation landscape is critical for distinguishing and clarifying the various technologies involved. True enterprise RPA like that developed by our automation experts is an ‘autonomous’ solution, secure and scalable because it’s built directly into the data center, executing complete end-to-end processes. There are also ‘local’ robotic desktop automation (RDA) solutions that are primarily assistive tools, built for desktop environments, supporting humans executing manual processes by automating sub-process elements.

Without a set of clearly defined terms and standards in the market, buyers can be confused as to the functionality required to support their needs. This can lead to buyers choosing an inappropriate solution, or even worse, one that exposes them to potential security risks along the way. Especially in an enterprise setting or when large companies undertake a digital transformation initiative, choosing the right technology and keeping within the approved timeline and budget are imperative.

At Blue Prism, our focus has been on enterprise RPA, driven from the data center outwards, with two over-riding principles in mind. First, business should control the automations. They should manage demand, determine what is automated and monitor the benefit. Second, IT should own the platform – managing how it’s provisioned, governed and secured. The key for buyers evaluating automation solutions is to understand what process is being automated, who’s involved and what’s being impacted. That’s why this initial definitions work is so important.

The IEEE standards around intelligent process automation will help guide and protect buyers in evaluating and choosing the right solution, as well as ensure the successful advancement of these technologies in the years ahead. The Working Group’s “Guide to Terms and Concepts in Intelligent Process Automation” has been released this month to the IEEE community for comment and voting, in accordance with the IEEE standards development process. When fully approved, it will provide a foundation for future development of a technology classification system, and deeper work in key areas such as risk, security and interoperability standards.

Just as American auto manufacturers need to adhere to fuel economy standards that benefit the auto industry, consumers and society as a whole, the standards being developed by the IEEE P2755 Working Group will ensure the responsible development of automation technologies for years to come. The collaborative efforts of leading vendors, buyers, consultants and the IEEE will provide organizations with peace of mind that automation will be developed in accordance with the highest levels of security, interoperability, governance and ethics in mind, and will accelerate the full development of these powerful technologies.  Blue Prism is proud to be at the forefront of that movement.

To learn more about IEEE P2755, please visit the Guide to Terms and Concepts in Intelligent Process Automation Working Group website. Blue Prism will also explore the new industry standards with IEEE at Blue Prism World events in New York and London in June 2017. More details on the conference and registration are available here.

Bart Peluso, global head of product marketing, Blue Prism