Robotic Process Automation is center-square in “Buzzword Bingo”. Organizations stampede to robotic platforms to capture their purported benefits of operational efficiency. It’s true that robotic automation provides for impressive gains quickly at a relatively low cost. But we must approach these tools with great sobriety. We need to save ourselves from being a hammer in search of a nail. Random automation devoid of a strategy will end up automating waste and amplify inefficiencies. Every automation must be qualified and prioritized with a clear understanding of the gains they would yield. And, when we do find true opportunities of robotic automation, we need to govern these and project their half-life.
These robots are little apps. Nothing more. They are instantiated on a hair-trigger and active for a very brief period, often times performing important short-lived process segments. Does this lend itself to a cohesive enterprise architecture? It doesn’t seem like it, but it can.
The marketplace for RPA is crowded, but one particular platform innovation addresses the gathering storm to provide for elegant architecture. Pegasystems, having acquired OpenSpan, has gone to great lengths to integrate robotics (now branded as Pega Robotics) into their Digital Process Automation (DPA) platform.
Short living robotic processes can now be instantiated, informed, controlled, and contextualized with longer living processes expressed in DPA. This enables us to create simpler automations, more portable automations, automations for leverage and reuse. It not only changes the way we author robotic automations, but they become far more supportable given the DPA command and control.
We call this design pattern the “Robotic Hive”. The DPA platform is the hive, and the robotic automations are the bees. The bees perform a simple task by departing from the hive with clear instructions only to return with their commissioned bounty. The hive is where the honey is made. The queen, the brains, are in the hive deploying the bees to provide the raw material to meet its objective.
With this technology, we have an opportunity to break a destructive pattern by which we will rue the day that we allowed robotic infestation.