A conversation with Jim Walker from UIPath about the growing use of RPA, or Robotic Process Automation, in the Government, this is a full version of the interview we featured in Episode 1: The Rise of RPA.
Erik Oehler: Welcome to the Data Dives bonus episode. This episode has our full interview with Jim Walker from UIPath who you heard from in the first episode. We cover a lot of topics in the RPA space, particularly as it relates to his work in the government. If you enjoyed the conversation from the first episode you're sure to enjoy this one as well. Thank you for listening, thank you for subscribing, and without any further ado - Jim Walker.
Joe Yankle: So RPA starts with usable data, and usable data starts with high-quality images. And today we're going to talk about the relationship and technology between Alaris and UIPath. So I'm going to turn it over to Jim and we're going to talk about how our two technologies complement one another. So Jim, I'll kick it off to you.
Jim Walker: Yeah, thanks, Joe. So exciting to be here, exciting that we have an opportunity to talk to you guys about RPA and how we partner. I joined the Army in 1983 and was a field artillery officer in a fire direction center, and they were first learning how to automate. I walked out to the vehicle where the fire controls were done for their eighth artillery guns, and the truck next to it was the computer.
And over the last 20 or 30 years instead of one computer we now have four or five computers that we walk around with every day. And we have all of this data, we have all of these pictures, we have all of these forms despite the paperless society. And workers all over the world, whether they're government or non-government, were inundated working for their computer.
And what process robotics is going to allow us to do is to take good work like you guys do, right? Good quality imaging, the ability to provide that imaging in a hurry, and to be able to pick it up your multifunction devices, from your scanners, and do something with it.
Today in an office, any office, it comes in something, gets scanned in, and then someone has to type that information in or they have to grab that and figure out what they want to do with it. And that is just necessary work, it has to be done, but it's not something that has to be done by a person, so instead of us having our people work for our computers, let's let our computers work with other computer systems and pass information around.
Joe Yankle: There's been a lot of talk about the president's management agenda, and some of the three key planks - modern information technology, data accountability and transparency, and workforce modernization. And there's also multiple OMB memos out there that all tie back to digital transformation in both of our technologies. So won't you share with the audience how UIPath helps enable agencies to comply with the OMB memos and with the president's management agenda?
Jim Walker: Right, so one I got to give this administration credit, technology for the last 15 years, 20 years, all you ever heard somebody say was, "Congress and the administration aren't keeping up with the technology, their policies are all outdated." And you've got an administration now that steps up and says, "We want to have automation." And their memorandum 1823 had very specifically said agencies should use RPA and they should look at artificial intelligence.
About three weeks ago the president signed a new executive order, the American artificial intelligence initiative, telling agencies you need to do research and development around artificial intelligence. And he's not saying he wants to do it because it's a neat thing to do, it's not we want to go to the moon just because. But it's more in all of the things we're putting out, we want to serve citizens better.
I can bank online, I can call Uber, I can get Uber Eats, I can choose between Uber Eats and GrubHub, but if I want to get a document from the government - I'm getting in my car, driving down to a courthouse, filling it out, handing it to a person who then types it in, and then the necessary work begins, right?
And so in our case at UIPath, started a year ago in the federal sector, 32 agencies are using that software and they are doing everything from bringing in an email, interrogating that email to make sure it has what it needs, and then put it in the ticketing system. No employee in the government says, "I like putting tickets in a ticketing system." So nobody's arguing with that. And you have the IRS who is using this in their procurement area.
The GSA's procurement office is using it when a small mom-and-pop company make a bid on a government contract, they submit their packet. And that packet might have a requirement that the font be 10 pitch only, and in government terms 12 pitch means you're disqualified. 11 pitch means you're ... Because it's 10 pitch and this type of font. The bot grabs that, checks to make sure it meets the standards.
Maybe the standard is it can only be 8 pages, 9 pages disqualified. It could be the best offer the government was ever going to get but it's 9 pages. How about have a bot standing at the front door, grabs it, interrogated for about 15, 20 seconds, sends it back to them and says specifically, "You have 9 pages, you should only have 8. You use this font, you should use that. And because I know you submitted it on time you're now authorized a 24-hour extension." There is no citizen who is going to be unhappy with that.
But if they wait three weeks for the procurement office at GSA to finally get around to it, and not because they're taking their time, but that's their workload, and are told, "You didn't qualify for something three weeks ago." That's not citizen services.
The Navy is using with an F-35 aircraft, they're using robotics and AI, it is such a new thing, and the best way I can describe this is if I were to buy SAP, a word processor, or a calendar program, any other kind of thing - I buy it for that thing, for that function. And what you're going to be able to do with robotics is you're going to be able to say, "I want you to be an HR application supporter for the next five hours. And then for six hours I want you to support your HR finance and procurement in a process that they do once a quarter. And then at night I want you to take all the documents that get scanned in from the downstairs folks and I want you to electronically file them, I want you to build me a report that says what you filed, and I want you to put that up on our website."
That set of arms and legs for all of the work that it's doing, doesn't care who it's working for, when, or where - That's what makes this technology so different. It's not a finance tool. It's not a word processing tool. It's a tool to work with anything that your current employees work with.
Joe Yankle: And speaking of employees, RPA, the intent is to not take away jobs, correct?
Jim Walker: Right.
Joe Yankle: It's to complement the workforce that's already in place, right? So tell me a little bit about George Washington.
Jim Walker: Yeah, so that was fun. So when I've recently retired about 17 months ago, the NASA Shared Services Center which is a quasi for-profit type of thing when you think about how it runs, it needs to break even, but it's a government private company partnership that services NASA, right? So it's not private company or anything, but it acts and behaves that way. And it was exciting to go down to that because normally you have a budget, Congress tells you, "NASA, you have 19 billion dollars," and somebody would say to the Shared Services Center, "You have $500,000 to survive on for the year."
At a Shared Services Center you charge internally for chargeback. So we came across robotic process automation, did all of our due diligence with market research, narrowed it down and said, "Okay, we have a bot." But we realized that the workforce was going to be afraid of the phrase automation. And so when we were trying to figure out what to do, we said, "Let's name our bot," right? And it's going to be the first bot in the federal government. We were literally racing the IRS because they had a program going also. And so we declared it was going to be George Washington. And George Washington has its own email address; it has its own credentials, its own security and everything, all the things that a person has.
By the time we had our program up and running, people would come to the office and say, "Can George do this," right? Not, "Can your bot do this?" Not, "Can the software do this?" And they were asking can it do things that we don't want to do, right? They have to be done, right?
If you are a clerk in a finance department and you have to do a reconciliation between 1500 lines of a purchase card and the invoice that you have, that work has to be done. But again, it's necessary, but is it necessary for a person to do? The person needs to know when there's a conflict, something didn't reconcile, that's where you bring the person in.
And most of the time now, 1500 lines, I'm tired, I'm ready to go to lunch, there's one that's kind of borderline, I'm going to let it go. I'm going to get to it later, and I never get to it.
Now when you only have to look at the two that are wrong, you're fresh. "Oh, I know why that's a problem. Let me go fix that and run it through the bot again, and then we'll have a zero balance on everything."
Joe Yankle: So let's play this scenario out - I'm an agency, I'm trying to meet the NARA 2022 mandate for implementing automated workflow solution so I can send digital-only files to the National Archives. So I'm an agency drowning in paper, okay? How does RPA help me if I'm trying to scan in boatloads of paper, because I've been housing paper in a file cabinet, I've been paying for storage? How does RPA help me with that scenario if I'm scanning?
Jim Walker: Right. So the good news especially for you guys is, is we don't scan, right? We work with the scanner. So today an agency not only has to have a person that scans for them, but they have to have a person on the other side that's going to do the work for them. And those two aren't doing the same thing, so scanning takes longer; backlog builds up, that type of thing. What if I take the person behind the scanner and move them to the front? And say, "You two, scan for us. Welcome, summer intern, you're going to catch us up," right?
And in behind that every time something scans in George Washington would say, "Hey, there's a new document in my directory. I'm going to grab it. I'm going to figure out what to do with it. I'm going to file it. And I'm going to do ever the person who moved out from behind used to do," right? But if I can't figure out what to do with it, if for whatever reason the scan comes back and the bot says I'm not really sure about that, it sets it over to the side. It doesn't say, "Hey, that scan wasn't good so I'm just going to file it over here." It says, "You, human, need to be in the loop."
And so you're able to really make a good human-in-the-loop partnership but you're able to reallocate where your staff are. Eventually you'll get all caught up, all your back log will be there, and one of those two people now gets an opportunity to go do something different.
Joe Yankle: So you could set a threshold for OCR read rates at 90%, if doesn't hit the 90% the bot will send it to a human to maybe review it.
Jim Walker: Exactly.
Joe Yankle: To get an acceptable image.
Jim Walker: Exactly.
Joe Yankle: Excellent.
Jim Walker: And that's what we want, right? We don't want the bot guessing, right? If you're an intel officer at one of three-letter intel agencies you don't want to look and have a bot determine if there was a troop moving in Iran last night if the image isn't great. If the image is perfect and it's clear that it is, you want the bot to immediately do something. But if it's not you want it to immediately send it to the desk officer to say, "There could be troop moving, you're going to have to check this out." So it's not ... there is this narrative that you were talking about earlier about people losing their jobs, right? I bet people said the same thing when the cell phone came in. But there are many more jobs in the telecommunication industry today, but they're not all the same, they're not all laying wires all over the country. They're putting up satellites, they're putting up dishes all over, they're making covers with bling on them for somebody. In my view there's nothing that suggests that technology has always decimated the workforce. It just said to a lifelong learner, "You get an opportunity to learn again."
Erik Oehler: So what are some other ways in which you've tried to reduce this stigma around RPA, like the George Washington example is a great one, but like humans put up this natural resistance.
Jim Walker: Oh, sure.
Erik Oehler: What are some ways you handle that?
Jim Walker: Yeah, so I think the government's doing a good job of reducing the stigma. So I'll go real high level, the Department of Labor recently put a hundred million dollars out, set it aside to say, "We're going to retrain the workforce," right? So it's not one of those if you don't understand this you're out of luck, hope you retire soon enough because this technology's going to do something to you. They put a hundred million dollars towards - let's retrain those of you that want to be retrained. So we had those two people in the previous example that we're doing the scanning and one is now freed up, well, one of those two wants to be a lifelong learner and really is excited to take part of that Department of Labor money and get retrained. The other says, "You know what? I'm kind of happy right here, and I'm needed, I'll check the things that are over ... or don't hit the 90% threshold, and I'll scan all day." Good for you.
The General Services Administration, they trained 11 people, and I learned yesterday, because I thought they were 11 people in the DC area, they trained 11 people in each of their regions. They trained finance people to build bots, and they have built a bot that helps them with the payment act. That's an act by Congress requiring government agencies to pay within 30 days invoices to private sector companies. Every private sector wants their money in 30 days, a government employee retrained from a finance task that may or may not be needed next year is now able to build bots to expedite processes and procedures that they need to do to clear all the things that the Congress tells them to do, right?
The USDA is starting a cohort of training under ... So the new federal CIO, Suzette Kent's her name, she is just a monster of goodness. And she came out four or five months ago saying, "I'm going to have retraining, we need more IT security people, and by the way we need more people doing robotics." And so they're training people now, not five years from now when bots are all over the place and that, they're saying, "Let's get you ready for it now; retrain you to do work with them."
Truman is the bot for the GSA, why? Because Truman started the GSA. I expect the VA to crank up a bot say anytime soon to call it Lincoln, right? And they're making videos of them, they're saying, "This is goodness," right? You could spend all day talking about how bad it's going to be and we're going to have an algorithm that's going to be incorrect for a little while, you can make badness out of this all day long, but at the end of the day robotics and AI are here, they're not coming, right? Self-driving cars are coming. AI and robotics and cognitive activities are all here. This is the time to go and learn it.
Joe Yankle: So speaking of AI, there's a lot of talk about AI, so tell me how for the listener who's not sure the difference between AI and RPA, how do the two relate? Because you don't do AI.
Jim Walker: That's right.
Joe Yankle: So explain the difference?
Jim Walker: That's right. So in a virtual world, so in our human workforce all of us have our own skills, we get paid a certain amount of money for what we do and what we bring to the table. Flip that over and make it virtual. RPA the grunt work, fingers and toes. Artificial intelligence the brains, cognitive, that middle space in there is a quick way to have somebody doing lawyer.com versus a true lawyer. And so chat bots are ready to be your call agents. So there's a tremendous environment inside this virtual world where all of them have to work together.
In our case we are just amazed at how many combinations of activities that you can do. We scan, everything starts with scanning, let's start with your scanning solution that's doing it exceptionally well. And then let's pass it, let's pass it to a robot that grabs it, an RPA bot that grabs it, and passes it to a cognitive bot or to an AI bot, and then it processes it and thinks about it and does things with it. And then it passes it to a person that says, "There's a 97% chance that this is something you want to look at. There's a 97% chance that this person's on the terrorist list and they don't show up that way." The capacity things that can be changed.
We talked with some folks down at an army aviation depot in Corpus Christi, Texas, the goal of the the mechanics down there to look at helicopter parts and see if they're serviceable or not. And they literally stripped these helicopters down to every piece and part. The team there spend 60% of their day on a computer, because when they realize a piece needs to be replaced they have to go look up the part number, see if it's on hand, request it to be sent in. If it's not on hand they go to another system and order the system. And the person order in the system, then goes to their just-in-time delivery service, well, that helicopter is not picking up a wounded soldier in Afghanistan. That helicopters not down in Houston when there's an unexpected flood, saving somebody. It's sitting on the floor an extra hundred days down in Corpus Christi.
But what if you could flip that? And I'll be very conservative and say that they were doing 60/40 today. What if we have the mechanics spending 60% of his time looking at parts in only 40% of his time? I mean, the bots are as dumb as they're ever going to be. So if all they can do is give me this 40% savings today, they're going to give me more later.
And now you have a workforce that no bot is looking at that piece to say if it's any good, because that decision is a life-or-death decision. "Is that little ring right there going to last one or run in Afghanistan or not?" And so it's just ... it's phenomenal what we're going to be able to do with these bots when they start working together.
Joe Yankle: Yeah, and the future is exciting. ICRP a completely disrupting the paper to digital workflow as it stands today, right? I see a future of scan to bot workflow, instead of scan to ECM platform, or scan to SharePoint. We're now scanning to a workflow that's going to be bot-driven.
Jim Walker: Yeah, I agree. So I scan something and I send it to a director to wait for a person to pick it up. Maybe that's four hours. Why would you wait four hours when you can do it almost instantaneous now, right? And for a price point, it just makes it worth that. None of your employees are going to be upset.
Again, it's really important to kind of realize the bot ... the person has to do 100% of the work today, right? And if they're driving into work, if they're riding in the metro in DC, they're already saying, "I have so much work from yesterday, and I bet my inbox is going to pile up today." And when they get in at 8:00 somebody says, "Don't forget we have a 9:30 meeting." And they're like, "I can't be in a 9:30 meeting." So when they get there they're on their phone, they're not in the meeting; they're at the meeting, right?
Now we're going to be able to say, "While you were at home last night, people from all over the world faxed in their request for a Visa, and that's all been tracked and stacked, and here the ones that are just surefire bets. They need to be approved. Here are the ones that you need to send to somebody else, because they're never going to be approved." And so you're going to go to work on just approving the ones that you know are ready to go. You're going to be fresh all day.
Joe Yankle: Right.
Jim Walker: Right? And you're going to leave at 3:00 to catch your daughter's first softball pitch and you're not going to have to have your significant other pick her up. And you're not going to get there right as the game ends and she says, "You should have seen my pitch," right? We're designed to work our eight-hour days, let's do it.
Erik Oehler: So to keep in the historical figures theme, are there any ways that you are like Paul Revere sounding the alarm bells to everybody that you see something coming, like a data tsunami or something that no one's prepared for?
Jim Walker: Well, I make the argument, that's why I do that example of when I was a second lieutenant in the army. The tsunami is already over us. The data just keeps on coming. And now that we've decided to be data-driven, the money ball thing, right? Now there's data everywhere, you just can't do anything with it, right?
And that F-35 aircraft example, so it's 17 years in development, right? This year they're going to go into production. Two years ago they went to Congress and said, "We think we have a problem. We track every single thing that plane does, every picture it takes, every piece of noise that it hears, every bit of the aircraft telemetry and weather, and when it lands we have so much data that a person would have to sit there for eight hours to watch it. And they're not going to catch everything."
When they combine, because RPA is relatively new, it just started coming out. They combined RPA that grabs it and says, "That's a photograph, that sound, that's aircraft telemetry, that's the pilot whistling, throw it away, blah, blah, blah." And passes it to AI. The AI is getting it crunching and saying, "My only job as the brains over here, is the watch if you will, is to look at the telemetry data to see if any aircraft are suggesting that they're wobbling. And I'm comparing all of these single things, and if it starts to wobble I'm going to send it back to the RPA bot with a message that says send to the mechanics, early warning."
It's that watch, an example of on the ... What am I? The elevator repairmen and there's nothing wrong with the elevator, well, the elevator says it's going to be broken tomorrow, so I'm here to fix it. Well, they've already figured that out that it's not RPA, it's not AI, it's that virtual workforce where AI is, for our case, $8,000 for a bot, and a million dollars for Watson, and a chat bot over here that helps them order things. It's all those virtual employees with their different skills working together so that they can say, "Here, humans, are the things that we can't figure out."
But now all of a sudden you're in a meeting like this and you're talking about, "How do we serve people better?" And nobody's got their phone on, nobody's using their laptop, they're all saying, "How can we do it," right?
And so we have this thing that we're really pushing called automation first, right? And what we say is if you're saying you're doing a transformation, that suggests you're going someplace. If you're doing an infrastructure upgrade, you're going to be upgraded. But what about automation first? We need to do this to serve citizens better. Great, how are we going to automate that first? Okay, we've got that one. Well, we've got this problem with backlog over here. Well, great, how are we going to automate that first?
Once we figured out how we're going to automate something first, then we figure out how we apply our people to it.
In the past we applied people to the work and we started piling these computers on and that tsunami hit, it's flooded, it's just everywhere.
Erik Oehler: My last question is, you sound like UIPath, you're kind of the visionaries when you go to your customers and you say, "Here's what we think we can do." Have there been use cases that have cropped up that have surprised you, or like what's the one that you didn't even see coming and maybe the government initiated and came to you and said, "Can it do this?"
Jim Walker: So let me tell you one that I thought was the best one, that was nothing, GSA lined up 10 applications, because I would make the argument when I was with NASA and GSA did the same thing, maybe these 10 don't need to be automated by RPA, right? So the first thing you do is you look at one or two of them that you could automate it, but it's only done once a quarter, it's not done for any other reason than somebody's lazy, right? Or it's cost you $5,000 to automate it and it's going to save you $5 a year.
At the other end there's something that the CIO's office who's already busy, they need to fix this, right? They may be needing to work with Microsoft or SAP or something. This needs to be fixed in the application. So there's that middle group.
Well, when the GSA tossed out their first two, it is too small, and their top two is CIO, they were left with six. But what they found on number three was it was a process that they were doing every month. But the end point of that, the output part of it, there was nobody there catching it. Everybody else assumed that all this work that was being done was for somebody and there was no somebody.
Killing that application is a wonderful use of RPA. The process of establishing what should be automated first allowed them to look at 10 and say, "Okay, no to these definitely, these need to be done in a different manner, here are six, and my goodness we don't even need to do this one anymore." It's that whole thing of throwing out policies that are no longer valid; you can't ride a horse on Sunday in downtown Nashville. Well, unless you're Blake Shelton you can, right? And so we run across those. But the F-35, it floored me when they came to us and said ... Because we want to say, "We're the path to AI. You need our fingers and toes to get there." But what the Navy said is, "We didn't need you to tell us that. We got there a year and a half ago."
And other agencies that are doing the contracts at GSA, that are doing the IRS work where they're trying to process faster. "I want my return faster. I want to write the check on the 15th right before midnight. But if I have a refund coming I wanted it yesterday."
And a lot of the agencies, they put their toe in the water last year, they said, "Is it secure? Or are people going to protest it? And are they going to be bothered by the fact?" And so last year was really let's just see what it feels like when it lands. And so agencies saying ... GSA now says, "If a bot doesn't save you 2,000 hours, one person's worth of work, we don't want to build it." It's not that we want to get that one person gone, it's just we want to build them big enough that they matter. And other agencies are shooting for a million hours saved.
If you take the natural reduction of about 10% of the government workforce every year, when those 10% leave and people are promoted up, if you've automated first you're automating the vacancy. Nobody's displaced.
And the other thing that I think is wonderful about it is I can now take somebody who's 12 and say, "You're going to spend the next 30 years in the government because we think you're great, but we want you to be there with all the knowledge." Because leaving a job and saying, "Tom left this PowerPoint slides for you, catch up." But what about a mentor? Half the day you're going to have to do some routine work when the bot says, "Here's what I don't understand," but because the bot's getting all that work done and you're getting it all done, we want you to sit with Mary. Mary's been here for 15 years and she knows every way to do things, and her work can't be automated. So when Mary leaves we think you're the natural succession to that, there's your promotion, but also you're going to have her knowledge. We've never had that ability before. If I pulled you up to mentor you there was a vacancy in work.
See, my task today is to guarantee that nobody will walk out there without enough understanding that at their next party they're not going to have a deer and headlight look. I think I have the pitch ...
Sarah Jones: Well, that's so cool. It's just amazing.
Joe Yankle: And what was even cooler is that most of the speakers today in some way referenced RPA, like setting the stage for you guys. So it was like a soft intro. So they're not just ...
Erik Oehler: You're very well primed.
Sarah Jones: Yeah, it's been coming up a lot, no worries. It's all over the place.
Jim Walker: Well, I wrote an article we're sending out probably next month, in a white paper, whatever heck they call them. I'm not a marketing guy. But I said RPA is a band-aid, and everybody panicked, right? And I said, "Look, when you go and get a little boo-boo, you put a band-aid on your kid's thing," right? When you get a Freedom of Information Act requirement from Congress, when you get Congress saying, "I need to know how many children was separated from their families at the border," that's a boo-boo, that's a one-off thing. But what we do today is we bring in 60 people who all had their Tammy’s, who all had football weekends and chest weekends and things planned with their family that now have to be jerked around to do that, right? I can train a bot to do that.
But when my dad had a heart surgery the doctor said, "Put this band-aid over this and leave it there." His health depends on that band-aid. And so if I need to do something that's a million dollar savings, if we have 500,000 documents a year that are sent to us to be scanned and imaged and stored, and I can do that with a bot and not hurt anybody in the meantime, they all work hard all day but they go home, they do their stuff, that's to me the beauty of it.
But the Veterans Administration is grappling with this thing called the Mission Act, and it's where Congress said, "We can't afford to buy more doctors, we can't make the VA bigger, so you can go downtown." So all the veterans are going downtown. Unintended consequences and you guys will love it, is the doctors are saying, "We're not paying for electronic filing." So their mailing back the one visit. It's showing up at the local VA hospital and the chief of staff was so impressed with what robotics was doing, he came with a call, he said, "Jim, I have a 96-inch stack of paper." He said, "Do you understand what that means? That means if I don't have that scanned in by the time the patient comes back and they go to see the doctor and the doctor says you don't have your stuff from Dr. Jones downtown, I can't treat you till I see that."
Not only is the doctor's time wasted but the patient who came in at the veteran's expense, they pay you to travel in, they pay your per diem. So you're going to go home and come back, you're going to pay again.
The staff that's being asked to scan these documents in are the same people who used to work there. This is one of those unintended consequences. So they didn't say, "Hey, add five more people to your head count." So these people are scanning and then going over behind the computer and stored in electronically. Two days, start to finish, the bot now can do that for them, right? That's one hospital, there's 144 of them.
Erik Oehler: And those are the stories that I think ... I can get you through that uncanny value where it's like, well, we've got the robot, we've named it. And, but it's still a robot, it wants to take my job. Those things, like we can actually connect it to the value in the real world.
Jim Walker: Right.
Erik Oehler: It's like who can argue with it.
Jim Walker: Right. And I take Uber I never looked at the cab guy and go, "I feel bad for you." What I feel bad is that you guys haven't picked up an Uber model, bought your own. Because I just want somebody when I need a vehicle that's at a price that I can pay. And I always check Lyft, Uber, whoever's cheapest - that's my car.
Sarah Jones: So we've been talking a lot about federal space and all the mandates there, but I think there's this perception sometimes that state and local aren't impacted by that, and I just want to make sure we touched on that and people understand this is coming their way too and it's going to impact the state and local government and they need to get in front of it.
Jim Walker: So if you think I'm excited about it for state and local, I mean, for a federal, state and local benefits immensely more. At the federal I'm going to prep me some more money, I'm going to build a budget over the deficit, and we're going to keep on going every year. At a state where they are legally required to balance their budget, there are no new people coming. There's no new money.
And if you're in a state like New Jersey where people are exiting as fast as they can because ... the people who have the income are exiting as fast as they can, they're going to be in a big world of hurt. But what if they take automation first entirely and say, "We need to automate that," right? There's no reason we need to have somebody at the window collecting that form. Have a little opening, drop it in your scanner here, and then have the scanner pick it up, serve it over to the RPA bot, the RPA bot sends it to the little thinker over here and it says, "That's a regular request for food stamps."
And in the State of Rhode Island if you lose your food stamp [unclear 32:24] you are legally automatically authorized another card. Nobody has to make [unclear], so [unclear] to talk to you. You come in and you scan your information in saying, "I lost my card." The bot looks just to make sure that you're not a new felon, that's the only exception. And when not it sends it over to a multifunction printer that prints out the little card, and all you do is have a person at the window that says, "Here's your card," right?
And that's fast, that's not 17 people lined up now serving number 203, right? So state and local governments really would benefit from it. And they don't have salaries that make people just want to get there, unless you're in a small rural place.
Erik Oehler: Are you finding that the budget mindfulness is a hindrance or easier buy in from them with your products?
Jim Walker: So my experience with budget is most of the leaders I spoke to say, "Don't talk to me about the dollar savings. Talk to me about how citizens will be served better," right?
Another great example for the VA, the VA has 900 people around the country that process claims. There's a 65,000 backlog on these things, and this is all out on their website, they publish their backlog. So I turned in my claim today knowing that there's 65,000 backlog, I'm not going to call tomorrow and ask when my checks coming, right? So 900 people, 900 people, GS9, step 5's, let's call it Dallas Texas, it means 53 million dollars in people. That doesn't include the laptop, that doesn't include their retirement, the building that they're working in or anything. 53 million dollars.
But if I walked up to them and every single claim according to their website takes an hour to process, that's the average, right? If I walk up and said, "I'll tell you I can do; I will take half of that work away from you. I'll put a bot on your laptop so you don't need another laptop." We call it attendant bots, right? And every time I need to do a part of that process I'm just going to tell the attendant bot to go do it, and I'll work on this other one, right?
It's going to cost about 1.2 million dollars in a GSA suit type of world, right? It's probably going to cost some less. But for 1.2 million dollars what I can tell you is the next morning I have doubled the capacity of the VA. They have gone from 900 x 7 for 200 days a year, to where a bot could grab it at 6:00AM and get the first one served up to you. And you could tell the attendant bot, "Here's the first one I'm going to work on tomorrow, so I have both of those in the queue ready to go."
The instructions don't have to be put on all 900 computers, so from an auditing perspective, from a standardization perspective ... because today when a government group meets in DC and they hand them out a 3-inch thick pieces of paper and say, "Here's the new standards," by the time they fly home to California they've already said, "This won't work for us, that won't work for us, and we're going to keep doing this," right?
When I say to all those 900 bots, "When you're ready to run, when they click go on you, you come back to the orchestrator and grab the latest one single version, and go execute."
People in the VA will say, "You know what? That work is being done exactly the way we expect it to." If it's not, we're going to make one change in one place and all 900 bots are retracted, right? But I who sit there, I'm more frustrated over the fact that I have 65,000 backlog, and that there's this pressure on me to miss Tammy's baseball game, right? And they want me to stay an extra hour every day but they don't want to pay overtime. And that's what I want. They want to pay me comp time, and I don't need time off, right?
And so how about if I just do my 8 hours and I do 14 instead of 7, and the 65,000 shrinks on down? By the time everybody sees that because one vendor might say, "You know what? When that happens we're going to lose money." No, because when that happens and it's successful everybody else is going to go, "How can I have the automation first? I'm next for the big thing, and now that I've realized that it's not simply scraping off a webpage, it's going through and grabbing that person's name and check in two police databases and checking a database over here and coming back and saying green thumb, keep going," right?
And it's doing it in stride with the person so the people aren't out of the loop because you don't want a veteran who's really got a problem to be told no by the computer when it was such a borderline that yes was the right answer, right? Because we've already saved a bunch of money.
That kind of stuff, it's going to be the Jetsons, right? Well, you don't ... We do. The Jetson had Rosie, right? And Rosie cleaned the house, right? Nobody was mad that Rosie was cleaning the house, the mom never said, "Well, I wish I could do the dishes." The dad never said, "I got to cut the grass." So as long as the bots are doing things with us there's not going to be a problem.
And if Watson tells my doctor which it did 33% of time better the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, showed you that the treatment was the wrong treatment, I went to the bot, right?
Joe Yankle: Right.
Jim Walker: I want the bot to tell the doctors, "This is the right treatment." And I want the doctors to argue with each other that that's not the right treatment. I'm good with that. There might be one little nuance that one doctor knows that makes it not the right treatment, but for the most part 33% of the time the doctors were wrong when they did the assessment.
Joe Yankle: Wow.
Jim Walker: Exactly. And as long as you're not one of the 33% that had the wrong treatment, you don't mind not having automation.
Joe Yankle: Right.
Jim Walker: Right? But I like that finger and didn't cut it off. That's not what I want.
Joe Yankle: So on that note, Jim, I wanted to thank you for your time today.
Jim Walker: Oh, it's exciting.
Joe Yankle: It's exciting, and I cannot wait to work with the UIPath team and I think we have many, many more success stories to talk about in the near future.
Jim Walker: We're looking forward to it. There's a lot of agencies that already use your product to be able to help them maximize that return on investment of a purchase they've already made by extending it out. It's a great opportunity.
Joe Yankle: Excellent.
Jim Walker: Good.
Joe Yankle: Thank you.
Jim Walker: Thanks.
Erik Oehler: Thanks again to Jim Walker of UIPath for his time, you can check out their software at uipath.com. This end every episode of Data Dives is brought to you by Alaris, a Kodak Alaris business. My name is Erik Oehler. Thanks for listening.