By Alan Murray and Lucas Laursen
December 14, 2018

Good morning.

I had coffee yesterday with Mihir Shukla, CEO of Automation Anywhere, which is one of the companies radically changing the way we work. Shukla makes robots, but not the R2-D2 kind. Rather his bots are software that can follow office workers on their computer screens and learn to imitate their actions. His opportunity is the $10 trillion spent each year on office work, more than half of which is repetitive and “rule based”…and therefore subject to automation.

Such office automation, of course, is nothing new. But past waves depended on complicated software written to solve a particular problem, that was both costly to create and costly to alter or replace. As a result, productivity gains were minimal.

Shukla’s bots sit on top of existing software and use AI and predictive analytics to learn from the user how to manipulate data. New bots can be trained and installed in a couple of days and can alter their actions over time.

With half of office work subject to automation, some may see Shukla’s company as a job destroyer. But he feels strongly otherwise. “I’m very passionate about what I do,” Shukla said. “We are making work more human.” Why should people waste time doing tasks that can be automated? This new technology lets them focus on work that matters and avoid the drudgery. “I grew up in a small town in India,” Shukla says. “If Bill Gates hadn’t introduced desktops to the world, I would still be there doing god knows what.”

Automation Anywhere raised $300 million last month from the SoftBank Vision Fund, at a valuation of $2.6 billion. The company’s revenues are doubling in size each year. Using the software doesn’t require special skills, Shukla says, and it makes office work both more productive and more meaningful.

More news below. Enjoy the weekend.

Alan Murray

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