With the recent announcement of working with Automation Anywhere (press release here) adding to the partnership already in place with UiPath, Oracle’s approach to Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is differing to other players such as SAP and Pega Systems for example who have acquired vendors.
It is an interesting question as to whether partnering is the right solution given that RPA vendors can and do challenge the need for an integration platform. After all with the exception of IoT most solutions have an some form of UI or API the robot can connect to. This assertion whilst isn’t wrong it fundamentally overlooks the ability to push transaction volumes through, UIs are vulnerable to change, the ability to apply very robust security. But when discussing integration needs with business rather than technology leaders such factors can be so easily overlooked.
Whilst acquisition is a possibility, unless Oracle acquires one of the big three (Automation Anywhere, UiPath, Blue Prism) they are likely to end up with a less established and/or less feature rich offering, that could very easily be perceived as an expensive OIC adaptor. Where as by having now partnered with two of the three major players, it is easier to sell the story that the technologies can be complimentary.
So how do they compliment rather than compete? The traditional buyer of OIC is an IT team either corporate or departmental. Such teams are often constantly being pushed for new Integrations to and often the most problematic of these are the smaller demands for proof of concepts etc that drive innovation forward, or enables the next new business opportunity or short lived integration need. By introducing support for RPA means several possibilities …
- Reverse the sales story, where an RPA sale has displaced traditional PaaS but the scale up has become too costly then the pitch can be it’s easy to make smooth transition to a PaaS solution by using the adaptor to streamline the use of RPA where it is needed,
- Using RPA against services the have changing and regularly enhancement are likely to suffer from the need to continually maintain the RPA scripts. If this happens a lot then the RPA model will feel very brittle. Whilst this is a plus from an iPaaS perspective, we don’t want the fact that perhaps central IT have suggested RPA as an interim solution and therefore end up being to blame for the effort involved in maintaining brittle scripts,
- RPA can be used by less technical users to effectively develop and prove business needs and thinking before an often over stretched IT team get involved – use RPA fed with appropriately sourced data via Integrations to help determine/prove business idea, before making the larger investment in a scalable robust solution,
- Integrations can be exposed and extended using RPA for tactical short term fixes, if the pilot proves value, and the next step is scale up – then replace RPA with OIC.
The last of these possibilities is very interesting as we’re moving towards what could be described as the citizen adaptor (in the same sense of having citizen developers).
Central IT teams embracing the idea citizen developers and integrators means rather than what is sometimes referred to as Shadow IT being that only a shadow with no visibility of what is happening. By embracing the idea, we create the opportunity to:
- Influence/set the parameters for the tools being used – increasing the chance of ensuring efficiencies in investment (and/or license compliance),
- See if common solutions or problems are occurring across the organization therefore focus efforts of building strategic solutions that deliver the biggest return on investment,
- Potentially leverage efforts from shadow IT teams for the benefit of the wider organisation,
- Most importantly opportunity to monitor what is happening to ensure legal and contractual compliance is assured e.g. if corporate policy prevents the use of cloud storage services from being used to hold certain types of data – it will be easy to see what Integrations exist with such services, and then review the data involved.
In this light working with, rather than trying to compete against the market leading RPA vendors has the distinct potential to present OIC as a strategic enabler.