New consultancy startup in New Zealand ties RPA with AI

06 February 2019 3 min. read

Virtual Blue believes in the cross-functionality of robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI). The two, according to co-founder and managing director Sam Osborne, are slices of the same pie.

“Many of the companies we’re speaking to have approached RPA and AI as two separate pieces of the transformation process, but they should be two parts of the same system,” Osborne said in an interview with Reseller News, a New Zealand IT industry publication.

Osborne gave the example of AI chatbots, which can take in information but not process it. Virtual Blue aims to change that, seamlessly combining intake and processing. The company’s mission is to bring in AI and RPA at the beginning of a company’s lifecycle, rather than retrofit them into an existing business’s strategy. For the time being, Virtual Blue will focus on midsize companies. 

RPA can be defined as a “technology and business practice that deals with the development and management of software ‘robots’ that work as application users, automating structured, repeatable tasks in an organisation software system,” according to AutomationEdge, a multinational RPA provider.

New consultancy startup in New Zealand ties RPA with AIOsborne, a native Briton, headed New Zealand’s first RPA program when it was rolled out in 2016. She also has experience working with companies such Vodafone and BNZ. Osborne and co-founder Sharyn Catt, a New Zealander who will serve as Virtual Blue’s director of customer solutions and operations, will partner with RPA providers, offering assistance with services such as automation consultancy, delivery and implementation, production support, and maintenance.

Virtual Blue will differentiate itself within the marketplace by creating long-term partnerships with its clients, Osborne said, acting as both a sounding board and a support system. "We are an extension of their internal teams. Our advice and guidance on current and future automation opportunities ensures every business has great returns on their investment and can leverage the benefits technologies like RPA and AI offers."

Automation and AI are perhaps the two hottest industries currently in the business world, and are quickly garnering mainstream status. Organisations worldwide are scrambling to become undergo “digital transformation” or to become “digitally mature.” There are perhaps dozens of buzz phrases, but they all boil down to the generally accepted idea that technology can and will save a company money, if not its life. A Capgemini study recently showed that AI and automation have the potential to save companies in the retail industry more than $300 billion, while digitization, which encompasses AI and RPA, could add billions to  national economies, according to a McKinsey & Company survey.

In a recent interview, Accenture’s Brad Ryan, the firm’s regional managing director for technology and artificial intelligence, pressed the importance of AI in business.