#15 Interviewing RPA Industry Leaders and Practitioners – Russel Alfeche

I have Russel Alfeche with us to share his RPA experience…

It’s my pleasure to have him here and would like to thank him for sharing his interesting journey… 🙂

Russel Alfeche

Here is a short Bio:

Russel Alfeche is a licensed Electronics Engineer in academic background, an RPA Presales Engineer by profession and a technologist at heart.

He received software engineering and management practice certification recognized by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He has an expert background in Cognitive and Robotic Process Automation and has been hailed as global winner last 2018 in an automation hackathon in London.


Small Talk

Sharath Raju:
We would like to know about your RPA journey?
Russel Alfeche:
My interest for emerging technologies, especially automation thru robotics (be it hardware or software), continued to grow since I was a kid having great interest in Scifi movies like Ironman, the Matrix and Johnny Mnemonic. In college, as an electronics engineering student, I did some robotics projects, as in hardware robots.

I started doing software automation not until I embarked corporate journey. Automation has became my way of doing things. When I see myself executing a task over and over again, I’d always get the sudden urge to automate it. I spearheaded continuous improvements initiatives aiming to boost productivity for the organization I was in. The development stack I used literally grew from elementary to enterprise grade. From batch scripts doing proactive monitoring and disaster recovery, it evolved to Powershell and VB.NET, with use cases such as to streamline business reports automation and eventually leading a global team of .NET developers to deploy an end-to-end chatbot solution.

Eventually, I knew I wanted to turn that passion into something that can impact a broader audience, not only the organization that I am in but even the external community. And fortunately, an opportunity came for me to do exactly that: UiPath’s PowerUpAutomation Global Virtual Hackathon. I haven’t experienced joining any hackathon and this was the very first one I joined – a prestigious one, that is – ‘Powering up the next generation of software robots by building reusable automation components with UiPath’. Long story short, they liked my solution and was very fortunate enough to be invited for their premier UiPathForward event in London for the awarding.

Having experienced the event, I came to know UiPath at a much deeper level, not only as a product company creating robots to replace humans but as a human-centric company leveraging robots to augment human capabilities enabling people to focus on much higher value work rather than get disengaged on working with repetitive tasks. Their people and core values are a testament to this – bold, humble, immersed, fast, fun and collaborative.

So as soon as I had the opportunity, I decided to join UiPath. Now, I am at a position where I know I can help lead the way towards materializing the future of work, one organization at a time.

And the rest is history.


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Sharath Raju:
What was your project about in the hackathon?
Russel Alfeche:
It was an email classifier solution infused in a reusable UiPath activity that uses machine learning to perform predictive analytics and assign an email to one or more class(es) of predefined set of classes or work queues.

For the input, you only have to provide the email subject and the email description. Then the output it would provide is the predicted case subject, case type and queue name based on what it has learned from the model.

Coming from a shared services organization, this is an idea that came up because I have experienced firsthand how teams are struggling to streamline service management processes, specifically incident ticket triaging. To drive greater customer experience, a key element that needs to be addressed is response time. Faster response time = happier customers. According to a survey of 1,000 companies, the average response time to respond to customer service requests is 12 hours and 10 minutes. That’s too long! So, how can this be reduced? Proper ticket classification, categorization, and team assignment are critical factors to reducing response time. Ninety percent of the time, manual ticket assignment can handle this properly. But, how about the other 10%? This still results in a significant amount of tickets transferring across different teams. Every large organization already has a responsibility matrix detailing which team handles which ticket types, reinforced by the historical data from their ticketing system.

Why not leverage the hidden power within the data and let artificial intelligence (AI) drive the rest? Hence, this project.


Sharath Raju:
What would be your advice for someone who is planning to participate in future hackathons?
Russel Alfeche:
It will be to never stop learning and be resourceful. Leverage vast resources from UiPath enablement ecosystems. Starting with the academy you can deep dive on the RPA foundations and enable you to build your first automation project.

If your goal is to explore UiPath’s possibilities, start building your first robot. If you’re stuck at some point where you think you cannot find the component that will serve your purpose, try UiPath GO!

If you are having difficulties solving, visit the forums. This is where ideas can be sourced from and reimagined along with the experts in the community in UiPath Connect!


Sharath Raju:
Top 3 RPA presales challenges?
Russel Alfeche:
Being in presales is comparable to being an evangelist of the technology you are selling, in this case, RPA. So inherently, most of the challenges encountered in performing presales work including qualifying customers, raising awareness, conducting workshops, developing proof of concepts, etc are the same challenges a presales engineer face in supporting our sales executives in persuading a customer to implement RPA in their organization. The following are the most common frictions:

  • Resistance on onboarding employees to embrace robots (fear of robots taking their work)
  • Selecting the right processes
  • Perspective of RPA being a band-aid solution

Addressing these challenges through sufficient and proper awareness sessions, hands on activities and process discovery workshops are key to successfully winning deals.


Sharath Raju:
We would like to hear about the future of RPA from you…
Russel Alfeche:
RPA is being strongly regarded as one of those factors that will drive the future of work. Having said this, our future workforce or the students of today are the ones who will be significantly impacted. They need to be able to adapt and grow along with the technology by upskilling and exhausting the vast resources we have today for RPA, else they’ll be left behind and be unemployable.

According to a study by World Economic Forum, by 2022, RPA will bring about 60 million net new jobs more than they destroy. By 2022, no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re- and upskilling.

Of these, about 35% are expected to require additional training of up to six months, 9% will require reskilling lasting six to 12 months, while 10% will require additional skills training of more than a year. Once they do, students entering work will then ‘force’ employers to use automation.

Referencing Guy Kirkwood’s ‘Seven RPA predictions for 2020‘, he mentioned, ‘For most of business history, human employees have been stuck having to connect and integrate increasingly outdated technology systems via repetitive, manual work. In 2020, students entering the workforce will be familiar with better options and will force lagging businesses to transform their processes’. Their familiarity will be helped by programmes such as the UiPath Academic Alliance.


You can connect with Russel Alfeche, he is always happy to help 🙂
Click here to connect with him on LinkedIn

I hope you enjoyed the post!!!

And if you think you or your management have some thoughts on RPA that you would like to share with the hundreds and thousands of people out there and be helpful…
Let’s have a small talk 🙂

Connect with me on LinkedIn or you can email me at sharathkumarraju@gmail.com

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