Should I be excited? I started my career back three decades ago with XRunner > WinRunner > QTP and now Unified Functional Tester (One). Does that automatically qualify as a certified RPA engineer?
Additionally, now that I’m cognizant of how business processes work and the associated mapping to enterprise architecture through to orchestration, does that mean I’m also an RPA architect?
Naively, I would love to say yes, but unfortunately based on my experience of implementing Enterprise RPA solutions for various global organisations, it is not that straightforward.
Last week, I attended the Micro Focus RPA workshop in South Africa, which initially let us address the elephant in the room. Why are Micro Focus entering so late into such a mature and established RPA market that has been around for decades? I guess the simplified answer is most RPA platforms were born in the IT Operations space (ITOM) and primarily focused on IT process automation. (Think when you first join a new company and all that configuration that happens to get you set up on all the various backend IT systems?)
What makes Micro Focus RPA different from the rest? First off, IT Operations Orchestration (OO) is extremely established within the IT Operations (ITOM) market and it already supports enterprise-grade IT process automation capabilities.
Moving swiftly onto the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) where the test automation tools have been around us since the early 1970s. My good friend Dorthey Graham was one of the first to write test automation for Bell Labs (check out the experiences in test automation book).
Micro Focus has had a market share of Test Automation tool Unified Functional Testing (UFT) which has always had Enterprise-grade support for SAP, Oracle (Java) or bespoke application, instead of Selenium W3C standard, which only supports elementary Web Browser automation.
So why is this important? By combining best in class Application Delivery Management (ADM) platform with the best in class IT Operations Management (ITOM) platform, you have Enterprise RPA platform. The other market-leading RPA solutions just don’t have the IT Operations Orchestration capabilities (except for IBM, but they have recently handed over tool development to HCL so are unlikely to penetrate the market).
This protects your organisation's current investment in both ADM and ITOM toolchains. Combined with 8,500 prebuilt enterprise workflows and identify management and security (data encryption), that can be easily extended to support third-party platforms, mainframe, bash shell (such as power shell) or REST APIs (by importing a Swagger spec).
By truly bridging the GAP between Development (Dev) and Operations (Ops) the possibilities are endless, but this capability alone does not make an Enterprise RPA platform.
The capability to enable Business Process Automation (BPA) combined with Runbook Automation (RBA) allows for end to end business processes to be encapsulated no matter how complete the IT ecosystems. However, this requires Subject Matter Experts (SME) who understand the individual systems that make up the end to end a critical business process that you are trying to target for RPA.
The market differential for the Micro Focus RPA solution is the 80/20 rule around the amount of effect required to develop vs. maintenance effort. The fact that it does not require specialist RPA resources, due to proprietary coding skills required by the market leaders, the Micro Focus RPA solution can leverage existing resource pools i.e. SME, ITOps & UFT.
Everyone who I spoke to at the Micro Focus RPA event was extremely excited around RPA opportunities and how the Micro Focus RPA could be onto a winning Enterprise RPA solution.