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Opinion: Automation Anywhere Conference

The last two days has seen the Intercontinental Hotel in Greenwich transformed into the subtle orange of Automation Anywhere for their Imagine conference.

It was a spectacular venue and provided a more impressive locale than the typical conference fare has to offer. The conference catered for all tastes too, providing the right mix of pizazz and hype alongside a solid dose of pragmatic "this is how it really is."

Unlike some vendors, the product was front and centre in many of the presentations and breakouts, while some were recordings there were many opportunities to see the product for real and even get hands-on in their build a bot workshops. As a personal view, this was good to see.

There were two important themes to their efforts, the first focused on some of the enterprise advances around security, resilience and governance, changes that thrusts them ahead of many, if not all, of their competitors. For larger corporation's these factors are your ticket to the game and they were keen to demonstrate their credentials.

The second was to demonstrate their innovation, while arguable whether it was truly innovative it was still an impressive list of features and enhancements that shows a thought for customer needs. The introduction of a bot store for example was central to this, it has the potential to be market leading, and opens up an even faster pace of delivery change than already available.

The integration of machine learning and cognitive into the suite was more about keeping pace with changes in the industry as a whole, and seems to have been done well, with plenty of thought being put into ease of use. Making it easier for customers to gain the benefits of intelligent automation is the right step to increase adoption.

The breakout sessions provided more insight into the company culture and it would be difficult to argue that they work hard, living and breathing their customer centricity. The evolution of AA has been a 14 year overnight success, and if their growth plans are realised they’ll double their numbers globally in the next 12 months. Even half that number would be impressive. The challenge there seems twofold, finding the people to recruit in the first place seems like a big ask but secondly to keep their customer centric and flexible approach with so many new recruits will require some slowing down to speed up!

I don't know why in the UK their profile has perhaps been behind other vendors. If this event was an attempt to rectify some of that problem then it was a well executed and they need to continue to capitalise on the energy they generated from the last two days. One of their sales team said “we seem to be a best kept secret,” and it's true with leaders in many industry sectors aligning themself to the Automation Anywhere banner but relatively low awareness of this in the general consciousness. While the show dis a terrific job of showing the breadth of implementations, what was missing was probably "The Big One," their biggest, most industrialised implementation to shout from the rooftops. Sometimes size matters and while I liked the fact they only lapsed once or twice into competitor bashing, its the old adage of "In God we trust, all others bring data." (Thank you to Demming for that one.

Having used hands-on several solutions over the last few years there is a lot to like about the Automation Anywhere development environment. The interface is everything you would expect from a modern application but it is the technical implementation which provides an uncomplicated way of separating underlying systems objects from business logic that I really fell in love with. This is obviously not a new feature but something I learned in their build a bot session.

Another not-new feature but something I had the opportunity to talk about in more detail was their ability to provide a licencing model that can adapt to seasonal demand - tax year end for example. Most - but not all- vendors provide only a basic licencing model, which to be fair is fine because it's a model that works for many users. But some need a bit more flexibility and a pay as you go model is the answer to handling these types of seasonal demand. I have no idea of comparative costs, but for now, it's just nice to know the option exists.

In conclusion, a tip of the hat to the marketing team, presenters and attendees at the conference for an event well run. I understand they are heading to New York in a few weeks so if that's your neck of the woods then I highly recommend checking them out.

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