What is most valuable?
It's very hard to transfer the feeling when you have a platform that came to handle infrastructure issues, but at the end of the day, they are making real changes and impacting our business level, which is amazing, because it's very uncommon. That's it, basically.
How has it helped my organization?
We started this engagement with Automic working on basic scheduling. If you can just imagine an organization, which has around 10,000 written processes in Visual Basic or old code, and now we need to maintain these processes. They are very core processes because they are handling interactions between our customers to us; they are transferring data from our customers into our system. It's several thousands of PDFs, invoices and shipping notices, etc.
Up to the phase where we met with Automic, we just used manual stuff that we wrote to handle it. While using Automic, we created one mechanism of transferring data, and that's it. We need to just replicate it to other customers, and then you have thousands of Automic processes that are working by using only a single design for the rest of the customers, so we don't need to write code anymore.
By the way, another impact that we had using this process by transferring these invoices from one FTP site to another FTP site is the generation of invoices. In order to generate invoices to thousands of customers, we did some old code style process. We designed the process in the Automic, which basically does it faster.
Invoices: It's important they're faster, because at the end of the day when the driver needs to leave for the customer, I need to make sure that he will leave the logistics site as fast as he can. If I'm printing, 1,000 invoices in four hours, or if I'm printing 1,000 invoices in two hours, it makes a difference in my business process.
This is the must have in these processes for the customer, because if you are using Automic at the infrastructure level, then you have a problem because you are missing a whole step. Why? Because at the end of the day, the biggest impact that we have had when we started using Automic was when we embedded our digital processes with the tool. Today, Automic is the tool that helps us to manage all our digital strategy.
When you are going to some kind of a digital journey, you must have some kind of a tool or robotic platform that will enable you to manage the full cycle flow of the customer experience to a level of the data in the operational system process. When you are talking about putting the customer at the front of your business, if you don't have some kind of automation tool that enables you to integrate between the system, monitoring, enterprise data, analyses, trigger and action, and then to the multi challenge platforms, you don't have a digital strategy, and you need some kind of an orchestration behind it. This is what Automic is doing for us.
Today, this is the impact. In our business, we have a lot of operational costs. Let's say, we have 255 call center representatives and they are doing thousands of service transactions while speaking to our customers. By using Automic as an engine to our digital contact center, I'm doing almost 45,000 transactions per month, but it's on technology. It's our digital platform, which is orchestrated by Automic and some other tools, and few technologies behind the process.
So, if you're looking for the real impact, you must look at the integration of the Automic into your business application, in your customer journey, and into the digital process. This is what most organization are experiencing today.
We are in interruptive era at the moment, and everybody is looking how to reach customers, and how to manage a low cost operation and their digital strategy, because you need to invest a lot of resources. Instead of doing it in coding stuff and managing stuff behind the scenes, you need some kind of automation.
By the way, if you are the customer receiving an instant message from me, so an SMS, you have to understand that behind the scenes, there is a business process that somebody needs to manage, control, and make sure you are receiving this SMS. We, at O.P.S.I., are using Automic to do it because it is closing the full cycle.
What needs improvement?
We are always talking about leveraging the power of big data by automation, and we have a gap, but we didn't really implement it yet (the automation), which they have a great solution for, so the business continues in the cloud. We are not there, but we need to be there, and I think it's a little bit hard in our area.
Our area with the CA solution for DR is not really concerning directly to Automic, but to all of the DevOps, a word which is something that everybody is trying to touch on today in their daily business. There is also some gap that's a little bit hard to understand or to implement because not all the organizations are the same. When you are adopting DevOps, you may need to be more flexible in your processes.
But once again, we are not really using that because it is a little bit hard for us. We have rapid changes now in our digital strategy, because, at the end of the day, my business is to do service, and we are trying to improve in the service area and to be very near to our customer business needs. We didn't really make it to cope with the Automic road map, because we have a road map.
For how long have I used the solution?
Around two to three years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Yes. If Automic will be your automation platform or the orchestration platform, then you must build it in a high availability mode, which is what we did together with the guys from Automic. Now, this system is basically available 24/7. If one connector is failing, we have an HA connector that will replace it, so you must design the platform to be stable. The platform itself, it's stable. But once again, if you need to work 24/7, there is no way. I am working with the Custom Authority, and the Custom Authority in Israel is a very challenging organization. There is no way that we wouldn't be able to transfer data to customs, because if you don't transfer data, then we wouldn't be able to deliver to our customers abroad, so we need to be working 24/7 because a lot of stuff is being done automatically behind the scenes.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
No, after we implemented, we didn't have any issues with the system. It's the core system today. It's one of the most important systems in our operation today, and once ensured that we had a high availability solution from them, then we started working 24/7 with no issues.
How is customer service and technical support?
At the end of the day, I think there is an integration between good product, stable product, and a good delivery team. This symmetry, it makes stuff work well. When you're testing platforms, you know your enterprise, you have data functionality, and you have the delivery concept. At the end of the day, when you do the statistics of what you've tested, you need to decide. What helped us to decide, except from the function, the way the system works, was the approach of the guys from Automic, how they approach our business, how they help us do the analyses. They care. They just care.
I don't want to say just care. When you care about something, then you feel the difference. Then you are coming with all these big solutions and big company solutions which have tremendous platforms, but once again, they are too big, too robotic, and forgot the customer at the end of the day. It's one of the things that makes their stuff different for us. Technical Support
Basically, here in Israel, we have very good support. The guys from Automic are assisting us, there is the world wide web, and we have a project manager that we work with. From the global perspective of how they help us, I think that we are pretty covered, and they are always trying to push new stuff, but once again, if we are thinking about improvement, it's a very big platform. We don't cover it all at the moment, and we are doing it step-by-step.
Which solutions did we use previously?
We had a few solutions. Most of them were code reading oriented, but it wasn't the platform. We didn't have any other platforms. We had tested another platform in that time, a very big one, which is not really relevant to this discussion, because I don't have anything bad to say about them, only from the point that they were too robotic for us. I think that Automic came with a very good approach in the delivery level. It's important, because when you're working at the delivery level, you can see the ROI that you will receive from the implementation.
It's a very good product and has a very good delivery level. Especially the guys that designed the solution over here are focused on the issues in the top 10 painful issues that we had, while resolving them during a very fast implementation. It gave us the boost to go with the digital area, the application area, and the business strategy area.
How was the initial setup?
When I'm saying they care and were very focused on the issues, in three months, the implementation of the system was running right. Instead of going through all the processes and trying to upgrade all of them, or change the way we work in a rapid movement of things during the implementation, once the system and the change model was up and running, we did two things:
- Good mapping process of the pain points
- Good mapping process on new projects.
Then we stared to just transfer new projects to this platform. Then, in parallel, we took all staff for the scheduling, which is the simplest way, and in two to three months, we upgraded most of the scheduling items that we needed to handle. Then, the organization saw that we rapidly changed the way we were experiencing a problem, integration, etc.
From the implementation point of view, it was straightforward, very simple, and not complicated. Of course, you always have issues with creating various servers and SQL licenses. You must handle the server optimization because you have a lot of traffic, so you need to do an optimization of the right resources. We have a private cloud on our site, so it's easier for us to do the optimization of resources in the process, which is great. Then, you eliminate more issues when you're implementing a new platform. It's tricky and complicated, but we are an organization that works with a lot of legacy systems, which has very big systems, which usually has a lot of troubles and issues in transforming between platforms, between different applications with a legacy code. So, when you have the opportunity to work on a shelf platform, on an advanced platform, then it's very easy.
It's very important to see who does the delivery for you, and what's their approach. If the approach is simple and easy, not too rushed, then you can manage the process to receive the best results. It's important because this is what made the implementation very easy at the end of the day for us.
Once again, from a technical point of view, there were no issues.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Control-M from BMC was one of the applications which we looked at or tested. IBM also has some solutions in this area, and HP in the DevOps orchestration. They have very good platforms, very good approach, very scalable, very stable, and from my personal experience and perspective, it just helped my business grow and cope with all our digital challenges.
We started the concept of working with Automic when we looked for a tool that would help us to automate our business. It started in the infrastructure level, because everybody wanted to automate their infrastructure stuff to do basic scheduling and standard things that you are doing in an organization, especially in the IT department.
Basically, we are divided between infrastructure and business applications, so in my IT department where the infrastructure recedes, we have thousands of processors that were created there manually by coding with all kind of windows applications or something like that. In Israel, we are the biggest company who is doing deliveries and managing a global supply chain operation, so we have a lot of legacy systems. It's a 25 year-old company, and we have a lot of legacy systems and a lot of old code from the past years that we need to manage or handle.
We started off looking for an automation tool that would help us to just upgrade old processes to some kind of a new system, and that is how we found Automic.
What other advice do I have?
I work at O.P.S.I., which is an authorized service contractor for UPS in Israel. Basically, the first challenge is that we are not really UPS, we are just an ASC, an authorized service contractor, so we are totally independent and are working like a standalone company, but we have a lot of integration with the global UPS. We have UPS system and applications that we must use because it's part of the agreement.
Here in Israel, we are identified totally brown with the logo and everything. Just one issue, this is why I mention it, because when somebody is talking about us worldwide and in Israel, we mention our name as O.P.S.I., an authorized service contractor for UPS. People need to know that we are a subcontractor for them and not really a brown branch here in Israel. Basically, just to let you know, we have 155 authorized service contractors like us worldwide.
As for additional advice, just pick stuff where you can and go for the quick win. The first phases of this project must be dedicated to understanding the mechanism and the platform, because when you're going with the simple stuff, you have the chance or the opportunity to test the system. We had thousands of processors with thousands of challenges, but once again, we started with the infrastructure. We succeeded over there, then we went to the application.
We started at the lowest level of the implementation. After we learned the system, we learned how it behaved. We learned the ability of the system, then we went to the application. I think what has amazed me the whole time is that I have fully automated business processes in this difficult area, so it's an excitement because you started in transferring files from one server to another, then you are managing your digital business strategy with this platform (my CEO knows this platform).
It's not like you are installing some kind of a monitoring tool. When you are starting small, infrastructure and then application, then turning this application into a core system, it is something else. So my humble advice from my experience is to start small and start with the pain points. Learn the system, learn the capabilities, then slide to the business level.
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.
Aug 17 2017