Automation Anywhere (AA) Review

We use IQ Bot to look through unstructured data and process structured data creating insights for our clients. Though, we would like more focus on AI and machine learning.


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What is our primary use case?

I'm responsible for the digital practice within the tax business. We are building a lot of our solutions using the Automation Anywhere platforms, both with IQ Bot as well as the regular RPA, in which we offer it to our clients.

I belong to the tax practice. My role is to see how we deploy technology to increase the efficiency of tax departments and help build new revenue streams from technology in the process . We work with our clients offering digital solutions in the tax space. That's really what I do for a living. We have had a lot of success using Automation Anywhere products. We've actually built a few solutions that were done on the EY cloud, which are offered to clients as a managed service.

How has it helped my organization?

I'll just talk about one use case using IQ Bot. Interestingly, every time an employee travels in India, the tax that you pay on each invoice, that is an amount that you can claim from the government as a tax credit. To be able to extract that information and put it together into a return can be massive. Because there are large companies where thousands of employees traveling every month and so on, what IQ Bot does using Automation Anywhere, is it reads through multiple sets of invoices, which can be in any format, extract the tax amounts, then it creates the return which is then used to file with the tax authorities. We don't even stop at that. We also compare this data with what is the actual travel that any company has. In many cases, what we've seen, there is a lot of tax where invoices have not been received. We also plug those gaps. There is a lot of value that clients derive using that aspect as well. It's not just about getting your tax right. You need to find where the leakage is and get that back to the company.

What is most valuable?

 I can tell you what our clients are always looking for. The big challenge with our clients is that while ERPs are only handling 20 to 25 percent of the requirements. There is a lot of unstructured and semi-structured data that exists in the ecosystem which they can't leverage. That's really what they want the bots to do. How can they complement the current IT infrastructure in a good way to be able to get that outcome?

IQ Bots are extremely powerful. We are using them increasingly more where we're about to look through a lot unstructured sources, like PDF documents, scanned images, contracts, etc. We are able to take the data out, then use that toward processing structured data and creating insights for our clients. 

What needs improvement?

They have done a fairly good job on the RPA space, but more and more, the whole cognitive AI space and machine learning are where I see the industry actually going. I'm sure Automation Anywhere is also focused on that topic, but we would like to see more coming down the pipe, as early as possible.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, we haven't had any issues that I want to highlight, so I'm assuming that it's quite stable. It is working as we desire it to work. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I think we have more than 50 clients who use our solution at this point. So, the scalability of the platform is well proven.

Every client is looking at scalability because they don't want to do just one or two processes. But, you will not be able to realize the value if you just limit yourself to a limited set of processes. So, the scalability is a very important task for clients. But there are certain challenges in scaling up. To be able to identify the right use cases that bring value is huge and very important.

Secondly, the technology infrastructure can be challenging if you scale up because you always have to add new servers to scale. That has always been a challenge. Having said that, I think what we heard today from Neil, there's a cloud version available that will be easily scalable. That is extremely exciting as a developer. That will be able to address a lot of the scalability issues that we've come across from our clients.

How was the initial setup?

We have two models: 

  1. With many clients, we actually go and have them implement Automation Anywhere in their own premises.
  2. The second model has actually proven more beneficial to lot of our clients. It is where we have set up the bots in our own EY private cloud on Microsoft Azure where we have implemented certain standard tax processes. So, we only get clients to migrate their processes onto our platform. There, we just take out the pain around the whole implementation, because it is not really relevant to our clients. They just start to get outcomes, and don't have to worry about it.

What about the implementation team?

We have developed a very strong capability internally that is proving to be strong differentiator for EY in the market.

What was our ROI?

the ROI of the automation investment for tax processes is very strong as apart from the process efficiency, there is also a financial aspect of lost tax credit that our solutions help to capture.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

 A lot of the clients have some footprint of the other competing RPA vendors who they want to leverage. We often come across those type of situations.

There are some inherent advantages that Automation Anywhere offers. Both in terms of the commercial structure, as well as from a platform perspective, that makes it very compelling for clients to actually look at using Automation Anywhere for tax processes. in our case, in India especially, some of our clients really want to start small. So, they don't want to start with a big bang, like 20 to 25 bots. It is always easiest for them to start with one process and one bot, go with a proof of concept, and gradually scale up. We have a very good arrangement with Automation Anywhere, where we can offer that as a partner pack, where we bundle services and the license for small processes. This makes it quite compelling for clients. 

The way the platform is evolving, we also see some technology advantages using Automation Anywhere, especially if you combine RPA plus IQ Bot along with the Bot Insights platform. That gives it a different shade compared to some of the other existing platform vendors.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate it a six and a half (out of 10).

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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