Robots Rising

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Content Copyright © 2014 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: The Norfolk Punt

Ever since I’ve been in IT, the mantra has been: “automate the routine, leave the exceptions to the people—and make sure you know the difference”. Well, this is very much the space Cortex operates in—it builds the software robots that, increasingly, run business operations.

I was at the event where Cortex launched Version 5 of its software—”Re-designed – Re-engineered – Re-launched”; and now available as a service. We are talking about event-driven automation, using models—no coding, “the model is the process”; no developers, the business can manage the orchestration of its own automation; you can re-use any automation assets you have already. Obviously, there’s technology behind this that I don’t have space to go into here (there are similarities with IBM’s Operational Decision Management or ODM, I think), but the bottom line is that some organisations claim a 70% reduction in headcount from deploying Cortex.

That 70% reduction implies huge savings—and, potentially, huge change and people-management issues. Obviously, one solution to the issues is the redeployment of people from boring routine tasks to interesting and creative tasks, building new business—but you will need to deploy resources to achieve this. On the other hand, working inefficiently to avoid the need to manage change isn’t a terribly viable solution to anything.

Interesting, to me, is how much this could, but need not, represent the rise of a new automation silo—there’s a group configuring software robots for automating operational processes, another group (IT) building software to automate business process; and a third group (the business) trying to actually make money for the company. Does this make sense? How different is a routine business process from a routine operational process and shouldn’t both be contributing to the business bottom-line? Could you, perhaps, sometimes use Cortex to automate both?

Well the devil might be in the detail, but I think that the people automating operational processes, business processes, and the business users of both must be in full and transparent communication. I’m sure that Cortex wouldn’t disagree—just as with conventional development, orchestrating software robots requires people skills, knowledge and feedback from the business. Cortex can make business operations more effective, but perhaps Cortex is also a tool that could be used by the IT group to solve some of its problems as well.