How RPA can help re-platform the enterprise


By Shak Akhtar, Global SVP Robotics Solutions, Redwood Software

As budgets shrink and the possibilities of technology expand exponentially the push to ‘re-platform’ the enterprise is something you’re likely to hear quite a lot about in 2018. But it’s not a decision that any business takes lightly.

Given the difficulties and expense involved in changes to core systems, there are generally only a few reasons significant enough to force businesses to make changes.

These include: When a platform reaches end-of-life, when other new installations necessitate upgrades (for example, when you replace part of an ERP system that relies on out-of-date architecture), or to reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for certain tools (for example, when moving to a dynamic usage model).

When these changes are undertaken, it’s imperative that errors and failures don’t occur in business-critical systems or processes. Thankfully, automation can help with any re-platform activity through delivery of efficient, fully-robotized processes and a significant reduction in errors. 

Crucially, automation of legacy applications alongside cloud-based systems lets RPA provide both an overview and orchestration of all interrelated (and inter-dependent) processes when moving from one system to another.

Avoiding these silos of information is crucial within any organization if efficiency and accuracy are the primary aims. The results of unconnected planning can be as confusing as they are dire.

The Winchester Mystery House

Let’s look at an analogy.

In 1884, following the death of her husband William Wirt Winchester (namesake of the Winchester gun company), Sarah Winchester purchased an unfinished farmhouse in San Jose, California. As it stands today, it’s a four-storey building that’s maintained as both a tourist attraction and a testament to the past, but in the late 19th Century, it was a sprawling seven-storey mansion most notable for being built without an architect or a masterplan.

The result of that construction work, quite unsurprisingly, is an architectural oddity that contains somewhere around 160 rooms, more than 10,000 windows and 40 staircases. It’s not just the bizarre scale though – there are also windows that overlook interior rooms and multiple staircases and doorways that lead nowhere.

And it seems all its secret nooks and crannies are still being discovered, with the most recent being an attic space containing a pump organ, couch, paintings and other items found in 2016.

The analogy of the Winchester Mystery House won’t be lost on anyone that’s now looking to transition from mainframe-based, on-premises deployments to cloud-based web service interfaces that can leverage the benefits of Big Data or machine learning. With a focus on efficiency, you’d never approach such a project without a masterplan.

System processes, in many cases, are relatively low complexity but in order for the wider business processes to function correctly they require perfect data synchronization between systems. Automation solutions that deliver end-to-end, process-based robotization are the perfect answer to supporting this technological transformation within an organization.

New systems, same problems

Even when projects to re-platform are underway, the new generations of enterprise tools from the likes of Oracle and SAP don’t deliver a full process-based approach to automation, so any assumption that the latest versions reduce manual effort are somewhat misguided.

Most of the improvements are to how the services are delivered – largely moving from on-premises to the cloud – and UI improvements. Therefore, best-in-class RPA tools are essential to unlock true end-to-end automation and all the associated benefits that brings.

As every company comes under pressure to cut costs, to be more productive, and to make smarter decisions in less time, legacy systems and platforms will ultimately have to be replaced, but automation holds the potential for making that transition relatively painless. 

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