Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

The ease of visibility in the processes which are working is its most valuable feature


VIDEO

What is our primary use case?

One of the biggest challenge that everybody has, and all the customers are thinking, my process has no structure or doesn't follow a pattern. That is the biggest challenge that everybody thinks. Even though our human minds are very powerful, there is a logic behind it. We try to go to customers, and say, "There is a logic always, so how do we apply the logic? The Automation Anywhere product enables us to do that. What you are doing in a repetitive task, or even some of the aspects of cognitive processing, combine both of those things together and build solutions. 

We build solutions for the oil and natural gas industry, HR, finance, and a lot of industries that can actually help customers on their journey as well.

What we have automated is taking on the automating process and making sure the automation process is touching all the components in a sequential fashion, then somebody is offboarding it. How do you make sure all the systems access either taking out or restricting it in a way that is one automation? We can only do that with Automation Anywhere because it has helped enable us to do that faster.

There are a couple of other examples, e.g., loan processing system, where there are multiple documents coming in multiple formats. Structure on structure, and often, there are a lot of back office operations where this is happens and you are actually consuming the data, feeding it to your loan processing systems, or any other systems that you use. 

What we have used with Automation Anywhere is take those desperate applications which are coming in with the various forms of data with the intent that they are built-in with IQ Bot of Automation Anywhere, then combine them with the tasks that MetaBots from Automation Anywhere provides, and we were able to automate the process. So, how can we cut shorter on the areas of arrangement, decision-making, and error reduction? We were able to do that in one of the loan processing system applications.

How has it helped my organization?

PDF comes in multiple ways. PDF is an actual PDF or it could be a scanned image, but people assume it's a PDF. Sometimes, it's not an actual PDF, but an OCR. So, there are multiple ways of skinning the cat. Automation Anywhere helps with the visibility of using a PDF or using OCR technology. These functions are already available, and you can extend it and beyond, as well.

What is most valuable?

The ease of visibility in the processes which are working is its most valuable feature. Take, for example, Control Room. This is one of the unique features of it, because at the end of the day, the business does not need to know whether it is a MetaBot, IQ Bot, or anything like that. How do you give the terms of business visually? Control Room is another big aspect of it, from the business point. 

From the technology point of view, it's supposed to do activities that you do in your day-to-day life. It is also extendable. Of course, we cannot solve the whole world's problems, but we can extend it with additional coding, and things like that. 

There are two things that it can provide you. 

  1. Quicker in automating the task that you already have. Sometimes, the process is chaotic, but the business needs that way to perform some tasks. With automation, what we can do is accelerate the automation, then look into the process optimization that we engineer. That's where we help. Automation Anywhere helps us to accelerate the adoption of automation faster so the customer can realize the benefits.
  2. It allows us to look into processes for what can be optimized. 

That is where it helps.

Last month, Automation Anywhere launched communications, which is a very good thing, because now you can actually get two things when you use it.

  1. Developer experience: The developer experience is essential for the product to go into the market very well. So, that helps it. 
  2. You want to get back what is working and not working, what the developers wanted, etc. 

What Automation Anywhere brings to the table is how do you actually connect these things together? The purpose of automation is automating the task that everybody is doing in their day-to-day lives or some of the cognitive side of it.

The availability of Automation Anywhere to integrate with various applications. whether it is SAP, web forms, Excel, or PDF, exposed quite a bit of integration opportunities within the organization. Definitely, this is one of the key assets, as well, for us to work better with the customers.

One of the biggest challenge that everyone is facing is in the format of the document. The document management processes that IQ Bot gives has very good functionality of how you can actually take unstructured data and make sense out of it, connecting inferences, then making the data available to the user. So, IQ Bot is one of the best tools that I can think of in that aspect. This solves the problem of various document structures, document formats, etc.

The Bot Insights is one of its big assets, because that's what they have given you the visibility.

What needs improvement?

We did use quite a bit of Citrix automation. Of course, AI Sense helps you through that. There are two big challenges that I can think of with Citrix automation. 

  1. Your making multiple hops into end-to-end systems. 
  2. As you are rating the screen, which is a screen within a screen, which is what Citrix automation is, the complexity increases.

That is where the two things will come in: the tool's functionality and the beauty of design. These two have to come in together to make it work. If you don't have one or the other, it's not going to work.

Let us take the example: Guidewire. We all know Guidewire. The way that guidewire is set up in the organization, or any tool, is it goes into a VDI, and from the VDI, I go into the SAP VDI. From there, I will access my IBM mainframe system, so there are multiple hops. Unless you have any iSense, and also the best design, you will not be able to achieve the outcome that you wanted.

One of the biggest challenge of automation is if you don't automate it, or if you don't execute the process then it is okay, but don't do it the wrong way. That is the biggest challenge that we try to solve. That's actually impacting the customer if I make a wrong decision. I'm okay to go back to the customer, and say, "I could not execute this process." But, I don't want to go back, saying that I executed the process in the wrong way. That's what we always believe in.

When we go to customers and talk to them about automation, "Everything is great." We can automate their process. However, one of the biggest challenge that we see personally as we automate a task, but our automation of the process is very manual. The DevOps side of it has not yet evolved. That is one aspect that I would think about. The second aspect of it is the testing side of it. Right now, automation testing is really manual testing. On one side, we are saying automating with automation. On the other side, we are automating manually. These are not going that well. As Sage IT, we have products that we are building on top of it to solve this particular problem. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The technology is the last piece of the puzzle. The important thing is how to make sure the business has the confidence in the technology. The infrastructure, environmental management, and availability are a very big challenge in this one. They are important because you are assuming that bots are going to run automatically and will to do my work, but you don't want to find after the fact that the bot is not running and my processes did not run. So, infrastructure management and deployment mechanisms are very critical. If the deployment is not right, you get the frustration, not the automation. As soon as the frustration kicks in, the automation adoption goes away, then everyone blames the product. That's the first thing they do. Everybody blames the product, so that's where we'll look at it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

With scalability, from what I've seen when we visit some of our customers, they don't look at how do you optimally run the bots. You can run bots left, right, and center at the same time, even though there is no dependency required. That is where the stability of the automation level is great. But, if you deploy it in the wrong way, the stability would be impacted. For example, running multiple bots on the same VDI, you don't have to do it, nor do you have to tie a bot to one VDI without multitenancy. Those are some of the challenges that we've seen and can be addressed.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

One of the important from the community side of it is the Bot Store, which is one of the biggest factors that I can think of. It is like a marketplace. 

What other advice do I have?

The ease of use is one of great assets for Automation Anywhere. I would want it to be continued in this fashion. Of course, there is still always room for improvement for any product, but we do that as well.

On the tools' side of it, when I look at it, a lot of commands have ease of use with every task, whether it is Excel or PDF, each are commonly used tasks and automatically available to you. Again, there are some that we may to develop.

I went through most of the Automation Anywhere courses: Architecture courses and even RPA for the business user courses. The courses are very good. It also gave me a very good perspective. The only thing that I would recommend on top of it: Getting the community to grade how much better each course is. At the end of the day, when we publish courses, what's the impact of that to the customer? It's not there. If that comes up, that would be good, so some the more popular courses get more time than other courses, which are really important, but do not get that much visibility.

The bot creation process: They said we should not look at it as a technology as the first thing. I would say technology the least problem that we have. I would first look at common sense: 

  • What is the bot actually doing? 
  • What is the task or workflow which you are trying to automate and is it actually doing it? 
  • What is the value that is actually getting to the customer? Or the impact that it is having on the customer? 

That's very important to identify. That is what it gets you the ROI, etc. You have to look at those aspects of it. 

The second aspect of it, how can you make it ease the pain? For example, if some customers are using the process, and I know to whom to talk about process, then I can determine when it is a bot, system, or mission. We have to make sure the bots and humans are working together and smarter. The second aspect that you look at is the design of it, which is very critical. 

The third aspect of it is adoption. That is what I always come back to, whether the customer has adopted it, and whether those in the chain management are communicating to the underlying teams and are right or not. We need to help all of those things. Then, developing the bot with Automation Anywhere is actually a cakewalk. I would call it very straightforward.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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