It’s been said multiple times in recent years that IT departments need to stop just being cost centers and start being business enablers. Rather than worrying about infrastructure and simply keeping the lights on, many IT departments are looking for opportunities to offload much of the repetitive work that while an important part of IT operations, adds very little value outside of ensuring that business operations continue uninterrupted. The goal of reducing administration overhead is often addressed through means of SaaS and PaaS in place of managing service and infrastructure in house. Additionally, more and more IT shops are adopting automation technologies when applicable to reduce administrative overhead. The adoption of automation technologies in IT operations has grown so far in popularity, that many organizations are looking at ways they can embrace automation outside day to day IT operations into other areas of the business that could realize greater efficiencies as a result.
A Robot For Each Task
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been getting a lot of attention lately as a new means for not a just automating IT workflows but also business workflows. Through the use of “bots” designed by either developers or end users to perform repetitive tasks, common back office tasks such as data entry, document creation/editing, purchase order issuing, and credential creation are no longer a time suck. This automation can be accomplished through multiple methods. If an application or workflow can can be automate through use of an API or scripted CLI the bot can take advantage of these resources. In case where these utilities do not exist or are incomplete, bots can control mouse movements and keyboard inputs to interact with an application the same way a human would.
Automating the Automation
The promise of increased efficiency has led to a rise in interest and adoption of RPA. While RPA has been a large improvement to business processes for organizations who have adopted it, it does fall short in some ways. Although RPA is good for automation discreet tasks, it does not offer much in the way of orchestration between multiple processes. Additionally, most RPA products target business stakeholders as a means automating their business processes with little to no assistance from IT operations and/or developers. To address these shortcomings with existing RPA solutions, Bonitasoft has created a new class of product that they have dubbed Business Process Automation (BPA).
A Pretty Cool Platform
Founded in 2009, Bonitasoft has created an automation platform of the same name aimed at helping companies optimize their operational processes to improve experiences for both employees and customers. Unlike most RPA products, Bonitasoft has identified application developers as their primary audience. The goal of the platform is to create orchestration between multiple systems to go beyond automation of discreet tasks and automate processes end to end through the creation of new applications. Lest people think they are attempting to compete with existing RPA platforms, Bonitasoft has made it clear that they believe their platform is complimentary to RPA. Through a partnership with UIPath, Bonitasoft is able to build connectors between RPA bots and other applications to link processes in a more complete and dynamic workflow.
Like many enterprise applications Bonitasoft provides a community edition that is free and open source to enables organizations to get started with automation and participate in the online community. Those who are ready to make the leap completely into BPA can purchase the enterprise edition of the Bonita platform to gain professional support and advanced features such as clustering, enhanced visibility, and better scalability. Additionally, Bonitasoft has recently announced the release of the Bonita Cloud service. With Bonita Cloud, customers can enjoy the same benefits of the Bonita platform without the need to worry about infrastructure operations and scaling.
Although RPA has existed as a practice and as a product for several years, adoption and interested have been increasing as of late. As a result, companies and products who can capitalize on this trend will be in a good position. Many companies are just getting started with RPA implementation or just with exploring its usefulness in their organization. For these organizations, where users and business stakeholders are likely driving the adoption, the further adoption of BPA is likely not in the near future. For organizations who have adopted RPA and have had great success with increased productivity, Bonitasoft’s platform and Bonita Cloud service are likely and attractive option.