AI is transforming industries, processes, and is bound to change the way we live and work: Arun Balasubramanian, VP & MD for India & South Asia, UiPath

Arun Balasubramanian

In an insightful interaction with CRN India, Arun Balasubramanian, VP & MD for India & South Asia, UiPath, discusses the rapid growth and strategic importance of the Indian market for UiPath. He highlights the company’s commitment to tapping into India’s talent pool, significant investments including a new data centre, and ambitious plans to train over half a million young people in AI and automation by 2027. Balasubramanian emphasises the pivotal role of channel partners, the integration of AI into UiPath’s platform, and shares success stories of Indian businesses benefiting from AI automation.

How has the business grown in India over the past couple of years, particularly post-COVID?

India is one of the key markets for UiPath, both strategically for the go-to-market strategies that I am directly responsible for, and for the significant investments we are making in this market. We are tapping into the talent pool for our research and development centre, with a lot of our core engineering work happening in India. Additionally, we leverage our young talent here to service our global customers through customer support and service, making it very strategic from that point of view.

One of our initial customers in India, Sutherland, helped shape some of the product roadmap for the company. Our associations and roots go back to India, and we are very committed to this market. Our CEO and the entire leadership team share this commitment, as evidenced by the significant investments we’ve made recently, including a new data centre that went live in April.

What excites us is our ability to tap into the talent pool. India presents a great opportunity for almost every multinational company operating globally. In February, we held a developer conference, where we announced our commitment to training over half a million young people in India on AI and automation platforms by 2027.

India is one of the fastest-growing markets for UiPath, and we believe it will continue to be so as Indian enterprises embrace AI and automation, striving to be at the cutting edge of technology. While cloud adoption was initially slow, AI adoption is ahead of the curve, with enterprises keen to see the benefits of leveraging cutting-edge technologies.

We remain invested in this market from a go-to-market point of view, and it will continue to be a strategic market for us. Combined with our data centre investments and our engineering teams, India is a very significant market for UiPath.

India has transformed from the BPO of the world to a tech powerhouse in the last few years. How do you see this mass training would contribute to that?

We’ve seen a shift, and I can speak from my own personal experience as someone who has led different companies in the country. Earlier, the focus was more on services, but now we are seeing core engineering work coming into India. This shift is evident in the talent pool and the products emerging from India. It is a very encouraging sign for the youth here.

How has the channel business grown compared to the company’s overall growth in the last couple of years, and how significant has the channel ecosystem’s contribution been to this achievement?

Partners play a very significant role in our strategy. Over 90 percent of our business involves selling to, through, or with partners. In a country like India, it’s almost impossible for any multinational company to be very successful without partnering with other tech companies. We see these partners as true force multipliers. One of our main focuses is upskilling and imparting knowledge to our partner ecosystem so that they can represent our brand in the best possible way to our customers.

We share a common goal of ensuring our customers’ success, and our partners are able to invest and help make that happen. We are very committed to this and have a thriving partner ecosystem with different tiers of partners. These partners are not only focused on the Indian market; some have aspirations and are already servicing global markets. In a way, we become a kitchen to the world from a technology point of view, addressing not only competition but also solving complex challenges faced by many Indian enterprises. Additionally, we are tackling global challenges such as talent pool shortages and knowledge transfer, ensuring that our talent can serve customers worldwide.

You mentioned almost 90% of your business is through channel partners, so is it in India or globally it’s the same thing as well?

I think more or less globally it’s a similar phenomenon.

Do you have any particular incentives or training programs targeted towards the channel partners?

Yes, we do have a full-fledged partner program. This program focuses on the enablement of partners, ensuring that we impart the necessary knowledge through training and certifications. Additionally, we create a community of partners who can exchange knowledge. We organise programs that bring partners together to facilitate this exchange.

We also collaborate with partners to engage with customers, especially when servicing large enterprise customers. By working together, we can better cater to our customers’ needs.

UiPath has recently announced several key initiatives and advancements in AI and automation, including the introduction of new LLMs for document processing and communication tasks. Can you share some more insights into these advancements and their expected impact on Indian businesses?

Let me rewind a bit and talk about AI and its importance. You are in a similar space, so you understand that AI is transforming industries and processes. It is bound to change the way we live and work. AI is already showing significant early signs of impact, and in the years ahead, it will create a very different world. For UiPath, AI is not new. We started our journey over five years ago as the number one RPA company. We performed extremely well but made a conscious shift from being a leading RPA player to an enterprise end-to-end AI platform company. This shift began over five years ago when we started integrating AI capabilities into every aspect of our platform. 

Now, we are at a stage where we offer an AI-powered platform with end-to-end automation. We help customers bring their AI dreams to reality through automation. There is a lot of discussion about generative AI, specialised AI, ethical AI, and the creation of guardrails. Our policy focuses on working with both generative AI and specialised AI, and combining these with the power of automation. We call this the autopilot, which we recently launched. It helps customers achieve their AI goals and aspirations.

Do you encourage your channel partners as well to incorporate AI or GenAI in their operations?

Yes, and I think there is a lot of interest and enthusiasm around this. People are showing a lot of interest in AI, especially around communications mining. We have a new product coming in, and since you mentioned LLM, there is a tremendous amount of interest in it. So, we plan to develop a generic LLM that can be tailor-made for enterprises to use in their environments. This way, they don’t have to start from scratch and train language models from the basics.

Within enterprises, two things happen most frequently: people deal with documents and they communicate. While all the chat GPT stuff is great for consumers, enterprises need something specifically designed to address these two issues. Our AI approach aims to solve these problems efficiently so that enterprises can realise benefits immediately. The pre-trained models are meant to handle documents and communication effectively. This is why we talk about our products like DocPATH and CommPATH, which are specialised LLM models.

These specialised models will also reduce the possibility of hallucination because they are designed to perform specific tasks. It doesn’t eliminate the risk entirely, but it definitely reduces it.

You mentioned earlier that in India the adoption of cloud has been a bit slower as compared to the adoption of AI and GenAI. So, what do you think is the reason for that?

This goes way back. The general observation was that we wanted the technology to stabilise first. Drawing from my personal experiences at Salesforce and other companies, I saw that many enterprises were comfortable with on-premises solutions and were sceptical about moving to the cloud. This scepticism wasn’t limited to enterprises; many technology vendors were also slow to adopt the cloud, doubting whether it would scale and work effectively as a technology.

We were waiting and watching for the technology to stabilise and become widely available. Today, however, the benefits of the cloud are well-known, and most companies offering cloud services are thriving. It’s now the norm, and there’s no longer a need to sell the concept of cloud computing.

I see a similar situation with AI now. AI represents the next wave of technological advancement, and enterprises are eager to embrace it because they recognise its transformative power. The potential economic gains from implementing AI are substantial. Companies fear being left behind if they adopt AI too late, just as some companies lagged in adopting cloud technologies and suffered as a result. For example, some banks were disrupted by non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) that leveraged cutting-edge cloud technologies, gaining a business advantage.

Enterprises don’t want a similar disruption to occur with the advent of AI.

Could you share any success stories or case studies where Indian businesses have significantly benefited from your AI automation?

I’ll talk about two examples. One is a banking story where we are working with Federal Bank. I’ll give you more details on that later. They were facing constant changes from regulators and had to be ready with their compliance posture, which usually takes a long time. For banks, such delays can disrupt operations. We’ve seen even larger banks coming under severe pressure from regulators due to delays in implementing and being ready with their compliance posture.

We were able to help the federal bank reduce the time by 50%, making them more agile and ready with their compliance postures much faster, in a more efficient and error-free way. Most of our solutions are repeatable and error-free, ultimately freeing up a lot of employee time. This helps create a better employee experience as it frees them from mundane tasks, allowing them to work on new areas like AI and other technologies. It also helps create wonderful customer experiences. That’s one example I wanted to share.

Another example is with Omega Healthcare. They received an award at our last Forward Five, our global flagship event, for the kind of innovation they have done with AI and automation in their business. They have achieved much faster invoice processing using our technology. In the medical field, the billing process usually takes a lot of time. Cutting down the time considerably makes it more efficient because there are multiple touchpoints. You’re talking to an insurer, so the patient experiences are very different from a hospital’s point of view.

Omega Healthcare does shared services for multiple healthcare customers, allowing them to turn around invoice processing much faster and more efficiently, and error-free. This has been a significant success story for us. 

Another example could be Nippon Steel. They deal with so many suppliers and vendors that capacity becomes a bottleneck when you want to grow your business. Suddenly, you realise you don’t have enough resources to process all the incoming work. They have implemented our intelligent automation to handle processes such as RFPs, invoices, customer quotes, and responses. 

With digital workers in the loop, the workload on people is reduced. Instead of doing mundane work, employees can focus on decisions that need their attention, such as handling exceptions in invoices. We have achieved over 90% accuracy in straight-through processing using UiPath.

What do you see as the main challenge or hindrance for your customers in their automation journey?

Where to start and how to go about it is the main concern. I think customers are clear that they have to embrace AI. How do they help realise that dream? We are assisting them with that blueprint because we believe that automation is a way to make the dream of AI a reality. That is definitely one area we are working on with our customers.

However, some of these projects could be very lengthy, or they might be smaller projects. We don’t know. Customers really want to understand the kind of return on investment they could get. So, we are conducting customised workshops to help them realise the value and understand the potential value they could unlock by proceeding with these projects. We’re going to help them with that.

Which are the areas that your partners should invest to be aligned with UiPath’s direction?

I feel the partners are fairly aligned because they are also attuned to the pulse of the customer, the market, and the technological advancements, particularly in AI and the ongoing AI revolution. So, I feel we are in the best position to help our customers unlock value. Our partners see this as well and are working in tandem with us to create and unlock value for our customers.

What would be your roadmap for the next couple of years for your partners and business?

I think India is going to be a significant growth story for us. While we are fairly entrenched in many large sectors such as financial services, manufacturing, and healthcare, we are also trying to work with the Government of India on digital initiatives. We feel we can play an important role in these initiatives. For example, we recently partnered with a company called Bhashini, which is a Digital India initiative focused on speech and language. We have developed new OCR engines based in India that can help digitise over 200 languages, including most Indian languages like Tamil. We are also working on speech-to-text conversions and other technologies to help the government provide better services to citizens. We are engaging more closely with the government on these initiatives, and Bhashini has been a fantastic project because we believe technology should penetrate every part of the world. 

UiPath is committed to deep innovation that impacts every part of the globe. Our OCR technology, which supports over 200 languages, is a great way to align with government initiatives and ensure these services and technologies are adopted at the citizen level. We see our partner ecosystem continuing to grow, and we are deeply invested in enabling them. Ultimately, our goals are the same: we want to ensure our customers see value and have access to the best technology. We will continue to work closely with our partners, and I don’t see any change in our strategy. We will continue to heavily partner with them to ensure that vast geographies like India are well-covered. We believe in mutual success.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here