New Independent Study Reveals Why Not All Software Robots Are Created Equally

By Leslie Willcocks

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) continues to be a growing success story. In 2016, RPA alone experienced a 68 percent growth rate in the global market, with 2017 maintaining this momentum. Some reports have even predicted a US$ 8.75 billion market by 2024. However, merely investing in RPA is not an instant recipe for growth.

In “Service Automation Robots and The Future of Work” (2016), my colleague Mary Lacity and I highlighted successful RPA deployments and how organizations were achieving triple wins for their shareholders, customers, and employees alike. We continued tracking these developments in 2017 and also noticed something different — many less successful journeys. In practice, it appears that automation success is far from guaranteed. Wider reports provide anecdotal evidence of between 30 to 50 percent of initial projects stalling, failing to scale, being abandoned or moving to other solutions. Our most recent research has examined in detail both successful and more challenged automation deployments. It turns out that service automation — like all organizational initiatives that try to scale — can be fraught with risk. We’re seeing 41 specific risks that need to be managed in eight areas: strategy, sourcing, tool selection, stakeholder buy-in, project execution, change management, business maturity and an automation center of excellence.

One of the key risk areas is tool/platform selectionBecause of the hype and confusion in the RPA marketplace, clients risk choosing the wrong tool(s), too many tools, or bad tool(s). By early 2018, over 45 tools or platforms were being sold as “RPA” and over 120 tools were being sold as some form of cognitive automation. Because the space is relatively new to many clients, it’s difficult to assess the actual capabilities and suitability of these tools. Clients must be wary of hype and “RPA washing”.

In our new report on Benchmarking the Client Experience, we extensively polled clients at Blue Prism on the results they’ve been getting by integrating RPA into existing business processes. In order to get the most valuable feedback, we set the bar high in requesting client assessments of the Blue Prism RPA platform on the following criteria: scalability, adaptability, security, service quality, employee satisfaction, ease of learning, deployment speed and overall satisfaction. From our qualitative research into process automation, these emerged as the most critical and essential characteristics and requirements for a successful enterprise-grade RPA implementation.

The overall level of satisfaction with the Blue Prism platform was extremely high in our survey. Respondents reported a 96 percent overall satisfaction rate, with 79 percent of respondents ranking Blue Prism’s platform a six or seven on a seven-point Likert Scale. Based on our 25-year research history into process improvement initiatives (BPM, shared services, outsourcing, six sigma, etc.), these are extremely high RPA satisfaction levels. Our research into IT and Business Services outsourcing finds only 20 percent of vendors getting “world class” performance, 25 percent getting good performance, 40 percent “doing OK”, while 15 percent experience poor outcomes. The record on IT projects also continues to frustrate. The most recent (2017) Standish Group CHAOS report found only a third of IT projects were successfully completed on time and on budget over the past year – the worst failure rate the Standish Group has recorded.

What, then, accounts for the impressive 96 percent overall satisfaction rate with Blue Prism?

Our observation is that not all RPA offerings are the same. The capability of RPA software depends greatly on the origins and orientations of the supplier. If designed as a desktop assistant, many RPA tools experience problems with scaling, security and integration with other information systems. Other RPA vendors offer RPA which is effectively a disguised form of what we have described as a “software-development kit,” needing a lot more IT development by the in-house team or the RPA vendor than first imagined, and incurring unanticipated expense, time and resources. True enterprise RPA, however, is designed from the start with a platform approach, to fit with wider enterprise systems. This might make it more expensive initially, and require more attention in the first few months of trial, but true enterprise RPA platforms have proven to be an investment in success later in the deployment cycle, when compared to other RPA software that tends to run into real problems.

Our qualitative research also suggests that some RPA tools are not easily scalable, especially those based on a recording capability, or requiring a lot of IT development. This occurs because some RPA tools are not designed as configurable service delivery platforms that can be integrated with other existing systems. These also need a lot more management involvement than clients and their vendors often expect. Many clients, moreover, do not put in place the necessary IT, project and program governance (rules and constitution, who does what, roles and responsibilities), and often do not use built-in tools that contain technical governance.

This, of course, is not the whole story. An RPA and cognitive skills shortage is already upon us. This means that retained capability and in-house teams are sometimes not strong enough – a situation not helped by sometimes skeptical senior management under-resourcing automation initiatives and not taking a strategic approach. Consultants are also hit by skills shortages and cannot always provide the support necessary — this is also true with business services outsourcing providers. We are also finding that clients often do not give enough attention to stakeholder buy-in and change management. Given these emerging challenges, the Blue Prism client satisfaction level are very notable indeed.

To download the report, click here.

Leslie Willcocks is Professor in the Department of Management at the London School of Economics, and co-author, with Mary Lacity, John Hindle and Shaji Khan, of the Robotic Process Automation: Benchmarking The Client Experience (Knowledge Capital Partners, London).

Source: Independent Study Reveals Why Not All Software Robots Are Created Equally


Global Cognitive Robotics Process Automation Market Is Set For A Rapid Growth And Is Anticipated To Reach USD 1,705.7 Million By 2024

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Source: Cognitive Robotics Process Automation Market Is Set For A Rapid Growth And Is Anticipated To Reach USD 1,705.7 Million By 2024

CIOs: Acquire new skills for technology management

CIOs should be seen as enablers and leaders of change in their business.

CIOs should be seen as enablers and leaders of change in their business. In this buyer’s guide, Computer Weekly looks at how the age of the customer requires IT leaders to
focus on both the business technology and IT agendas; why IT leaders need to use blogging and social media to raise their profile and build influence in their organisations; and how IT leaders can roll out projects ever more quickly without running unacceptable risks.

In this 14-page buyer’s guide, Computer Weekly explores:

  • Ways of acquiring new technology management skills
  • Lessons and literature for CIOs
  • How to role out IT projects faster, without running unacceptable risks
  • Case Study: How Atkins ramps up IT speed

Download the guide from: Computerweekly-Acquire new skills for technology management

IoT Outlook 2015 Report

Applications and use cases for the Internet of Things (IoT) extend into almost every major industry vertical, and is already being exploited to great benefit by enterprise firms the world over, most notably in industrial, automotive, and manufacturing industries.

Telecoms Intelligence recently ran a comprehensive survey to gain a more thorough understanding of the IoT opportunity for operators today. Just short of 1,000 respondents participated in the questionnaire, covering four comprehensive areas of concern: Information security, networking challenges, cloud and big data, and industrial IoT.

Download the Report at: IoT Outlook 2015 Report

IDC: Citrix, EMC, HP, VMware Favored, Oracle Not by Enterprise Customers

Enterprise customers value software providers on factors beyond cost, benefit and ROI, a new IDC study shows.

Issues such as ease of doing business, license compliance, application management and cloud support make a difference to enterprise customers in selecting a preferred vendor, according to IDC data from a survey sponsored by Flexera, a provider of licensing, compliance and application installation tools and solutions.
The study, referred to by the sponsors as the “Customer Choice Awards” for rivals in the enterprise software market, asked 147 participants to rate vendors on eight different factors–criteria that “vendors should take note of and be aware of as they develop, launch and support their products,” IDC and Flexera said. The vendor for each category landing the most “Strongly Agree” or “Agree” responses won the “Customer Choice Award” for that question.

Competitors included Adobe (ADB), CA (CA), Citrix (CTRX), EMC (EMC), HP (HPQ), IBM (IBM), Microsoft (MSFT), Oracle (ORCL), SAP (SAP), Salesforce (CRM), Symantec (SYMC) and VMware (VMW), which taken together command about 50 percent of the market, or $200 billion in software spend.

“Applications require ongoing effort and cost to manage, support and maintain throughout the lifecycle of the license,” said Amy Konary, IDC Software Licensing and Provisioning research vice president. “The ease with which organizations can support those applications, and partner with their application providers during the process has a dramatic impact on vendors’ favorability ratings.”

Keeping in mind that anecdotal data is just that, basically the respondent’s opinion, here are the winners and losers:

  • Easiest vendor to work with? EMC. 91 percent of the survey’s respondents said so. Who scored the lowest? Oracle, at 43 percent.
  • Vendor’s apps easiest to manage, patch, maintain and upgrade? VMware. 91 percent said so. Who scored the lowest? Oracle again at 35 percent.
  • Vendor’s licensing policies easiest to understand? HP at 89.8 percent. Citrix came in a close second at 89.6 percent. Yet again Oracle scored the lowest at 42.9 percent.
  • Vendor’s usage and spend stats easy to understand? VMware at 93 percent. Poor Oracle, last again at 31 percent.
  • Vendor’s mobile, virtualization and cloud licensing rules help with migration? Citrix at 88 percent. Who lost? You guessed it, Oracle at 45 percent.
  • Vendor rarely issues license compliance audits? Citrix at 94 percent. Do we say Oracle lost at 35 percent or did you already know?
  • Vendor rarely forces license compliance true-up fees? HP wins at 93 percent with Oracle losing at 29 percent.
  • Vendor’s app prices reasonable and offer good ROI? Citrix at 87 percent with Oracle scoring the lowest at 44 percent.

“Building great products that deliver ROI is and should be the primary driver for every software vendor,” said Richard Northing, Flexera Products and Services senior vice president. “However, this report suggests that software companies must also look downstream and optimize the customer experience across a wide range of value criteria,” he said.

Source: IDC: Citrix, EMC, HP, VMware Favored, Oracle Not by Enterprise Customers

The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms, Q4 2014

Enterprise public cloud platform vendor evaluation
Public cloud application platforms unlock the flexibility, developer-productivity, and economic advantages of cloud computing. Business technology and technology management professionals use a wide variety of public cloud platforms.

This Forrester report evaluates the leading providers of enterprise public cloud platforms. Read now for assistance in selecting one that delivers the best balance of agility and enterprise fit.

Download at: The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms, Q4 2014

Cisco 2015 Annual Security Report

Understand how attackers are taking advantage of gaps between defender intent and their actions in order to conceal malicious activity and evade detection.

New Threat Intelligence and Trend Analysis

Despite advances by the security industry, criminals continue to evolve their approaches to break through security defenses. Attackers are realizing that bigger and bolder is not always better. The Cisco 2015 Annual Security Report reveals shifts in attack techniques, emerging vulnerabilities, and the state of enterprise security preparedness.

Download the report at: Cisco 2015 Annual Security Report

Hadoop big data adoption fails to live up to hype, says Gartner

More than half of survey respondents have no plans to deploy the open source analytics platform

Gartner research shows that more than half of companies have no current plans to adopt Hadoop-based data analytics, despite large firms like British Airways and Marks & Spencer being big fans of the technology.

Gartner’s 2015 Hadoop Adoption Study has found that investment remains “tentative” in the face of “sizable challenges around business value and skills”. The survey, which was conducted in February and March 2015 among 284 Gartner Research Circle members, found that only 125 respondents had already invested in Hadoop or had plans to do so within the next two years.

The Gartner Research Circle is a Gartner-managed panel composed of IT and business leaders. “Despite considerable hype and reported successes for early adopters, 54 percent of survey respondents report no plans to invest at this time, while only 18 percent have plans to invest in Hadoop over the next two years,” said Nick Heudecker, an analyst at Gartner.

“Furthermore,” he said, “the early adopters don’t appear to be championing for substantial Hadoop adoption over the next 24 months; in fact, there are fewer who plan to begin in the next two years than already have.”

Hadoop is an open source framework that allows for the distributed processing of large data sets across clusters of computers using simple programming models. It is designed to scale up from single servers to thousands of machines, each offering local computation and storage.

According to the Gartner research, only 26 percent of respondents claim to be either deploying, piloting or experimenting with Hadoop, while 11 percent plan to invest within 12 months and seven percent are planning investment in 24 months.

Responses pointed to two interesting reasons for the lack of intent, said the analyst. First, several responded that Hadoop was simply “not a priority”. The second was that Hadoop was “overkill” for the problems the business faced, “implying the opportunity costs of implementing Hadoop were too high relative to the expected benefit”, said Gartner.

Gartner analyst Merv Adrian said: “Future demand for Hadoop looks fairly anaemic over at least the next 24 months. Moreover, the lack of near-term plans for Hadoop adoption suggest that despite continuing enthusiasm for the big data phenomenon, demand for Hadoop specifically is not accelerating.

“The best hope for revenue growth for providers would appear to be in moving to larger deployments within their existing customer base.”

Skills gaps were a major adoption inhibitor for 57 percent of respondents, while figuring out how to get value from Hadoop was cited by 49 percent. “The absence of skills has long been a key blocker,” the analyst said. “Tooling vendors claim their products also address the skills gap. While tools are improving, they primarily support highly skilled users rather than elevate the skills already available in most enterprises,” Gartner said.

Gartner estimates it will take “two to three years” for the Hadoop skills challenge to be addressed.

Source: computerworlduk-Hadoop big data adoption fails to live up to hype, says Gartner

Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls

The enterprise network firewall market represented by this Magic Quadrant is composed primarily of purpose-built appliances for securing enterprise corporate networks. Products must be able to support single-enterprise firewall deployments and large and/or complex deployments, including branch offices, multitiered demilitarized zones (DMZs) and, increasingly, the option to include virtual versions, often within the data center. These products are accompanied by highly scalable (and granular) management and reporting consoles, and there is a range of offerings to support the network edge, the data center, branch offices and deployments within virtualized servers.

The companies that serve this market are identifiably focused on enterprises — as demonstrated by the proportion of their sales in the enterprise; as delivered with their support, sales teams and channels; but also as demonstrated by the features dedicated to solve enterprise requirements and serve enterprise use cases.

As the firewall market continues to evolve, NGFWs add new features to better enforce policy (application and user control) or detect new threats (intrusion prevention systems [IPSs], sandboxing and threat intelligence feeds). The stand-alone Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPN market has largely been absorbed by the firewall market. Eventually, the NGFW will continue to subsume more of the stand-alone network IPS appliance market at the enterprise edge. This is happening now; however, some enterprises will continue to choose to have best-of-breed IPSs embodied in next-generation IPSs (NGIPSs). More recently, enterprises have begun looking to firewall vendors to provide cloud-based malware-detection instances to aid them in their advanced threat efforts, as a cost-effective alternative to stand-alone sandboxing solutions (see “Market Guide for Network Sandboxing”).

However, next-generation firewalls will not subsume all network security functions. All-in-one or unified threat management (UTM) approaches are suitable for small or midsize businesses (SMBs), but not for the enterprise (see “Next-Generation Firewalls and Unified Threat Management Are Distinct Products and Markets”).

The needs for branch-office firewalls are becoming specialized, and they are diverging from, rather than converging with, UTM products. As part of increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of firewalls, they will need to truly integrate more-granular blocking capability as part of the base product, go beyond port/protocol identification and move toward an integrated service view of traffic, rather than merely performing “sheet metal integration” of point products.

Reaad the report at: Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls

IoT considerations for CIOs

Gartner has predicted that by 2020 the Internet of Thingswill grow to 26 billion objects. (This excludes smartphones, tablets and PCs, which will account for a separate 7.3 billion devices, Gartner adds.) With these kinds of staggering numbers, there is a disruption in the making — and we CIOs need to be ready for it.

What are the “things” that we should be prepared for? At one level, all sorts of familiar “dumb” devices — the toaster, light bulb, refrigerator, faucet — will be ‘smartened’ with real-time sensors responding to internal or external data, and will be able to communicate.

Even more exciting are a class of totally new things — clothes with embedded sensors, earphones that measure heart rate and temperature, smart watches that look for presence — creating ripples of data around both inanimate and animate objects. In the future it will be tough to have a heart attack in private, or even to lose a dog.

As the IoT explodes with sensor costs coming down and capability going up, one should expect, at least initially, a fair amount of heterogeneity. There will be sensors that read and transmit, but cannot be controlled. But in some cases there will be truer bi-directional control. There will be different mechanisms for communication between certain clusters and classes of things — think RFIDs: very different from how, say, a network of servers communicates, or how kitchen devices might poll each other to compute a shopping list for you.

Standards will undoubtedly evolve, but these are likely to be sets of standards for particular verticals like medical devices or the automotive industry. IP-addressable sensors and sets of sensors will make the “internet of the physical world” happen.

But what will IoT be for? At the consumer level, we are headed towards hyper-awareness at multiple levels: Personal health statistics, environment optimization, social presence relay and detection, behavioral prediction (like personal spend preferences and triggers) and the like.

At the business level there will be two imperatives. For those manufacturing physical goods, there will be the pressure for “smart everything” — what should be measured and why, how the data should be used and when, and how such sensors can be made virtually invisible.

The second imperative, and this will be for all: How can IoT data be used to understand and optimize business processes, tools, communications and buying and selling behavior?

Ultimately the game is one of competitive advantage, and using IoT to advantage will be a key skill required of CIOs.

For CIOs, the biggest challenges will be the quantity, collection, analysis and purposeful utilization of near-real-time or real-time data from numerous heterogeneous sources. Big Data has emerged at just the right time for this. But the harvesting of data from inexpensive sensors — many of which will fail, be in error, need recalibration in different environments or may not have been activated — will require intelligent handling of large data volumes.

Even without reference to IoT, SanDisk, as an example, is predicting a 14-fold increase in enterprise data to be managed by 2020. IoT multiplies this challenge.

For companies looking to make an impact In the IT world, there are clear and open frontiers to a wide array of both simple and complex sensors to detect and correct device failures for IoT, or better still prevent them. There are obvious needs for large volumes of sensor data to get to the right place securely for analysis and optimizing of objectives.

Accompanying this are concerns about privacy, security and theft, especially since many of the ‘things’ entering a business may be from multiple unknown consumer sources. (If you thought BYOD was tough on CIOs, wait until your employee’s shirt wants to adjust the thermostat!).

At a more mundane level, as machines communicate with software, today’s concerns about user experience will be replaced with concerns about efficiency and effectiveness of the back-end. New licensing models are also likely to evolve — clusters of machine interactions differ significantly from users interacting with software. The cloud will play a big part in machine interactions, particularly for transmission, storage and analysis, since local read/transmit or read/act/transmit will be the most common states.

We have highlighted heterogeneity as pervasive, at least at the start of the Internet of Things. This does not mean that “seamless integration” will not be expected of the CIO! Personal, home and work environments will be expected to connect in rich ways without interruption. APIs and extensions from the sensor manufacturers, communications standards and protocols will all help. But the work ahead is fairly formidable.

With all of the above, how does the role of the CIO and IT change? I have a fundamental belief that I will re-state here: “If you treat IT as a commodity that is what you will get. If you treat it as the creative edge of your business, you have a weapon like no other.”

Nowhere will this be truer than in how different companies approach IoT. The laggards will view IoT as an infrastructure issue: Get things talking, collect data, send it off for data warehousing and analysis. The leading IT departments will embrace IoT as a green-field for partnership with the business to explore how new business models and predictive customer knowledge can evolve.

Source: Computerworld-IoT considerations for CIOs by Azmi Jafarey