Orchestration vs. Integration: Finding the Best Way to Manage Automation

Posted: 11/23/2017 - 01:48

Using a diverse set of intelligent automation tools together to achieve your business aims isn’t always easy. More often than not, it involves figuring out how to integrate these different tools in what can become a very complex IT project. 

RPA is becoming more mature, and it’s designed in part to address the challenge of integration within an underlying business system. However, when you start to put multiple tools together, for example using an RPA tool alongside an OCR, you’ll typically start to experience more challenges in making these tools work seamlessly together. 

The concept of orchestration is quickly becoming a hot topic in the automation community, as companies continue to experience difficulty in integrating multiple tools to provide an end-to-end service. In fact, the days of direct technical integration may well be limited. Robotic Service Orchestration (RSO) is taking us in another direction entirely, helping to model processors and ‘kick off the bots’ directly. 

Why use RSO? 

Picture the scene: you have a joiner/leaver process which involves multiple Intelligent Automation tools working alongside humans. The normal process is triggered by an email, where a natural language processing tool interprets the key facts. Then an RPA tool handles the system updates and triggers an IT asset management tool. A natural language generation engine produces documents for the joiner/leaver. Meanwhile, if queries are received either by online chat, email or text, they are handled by a chatbot or human. Lots of moving parts! 

To make this work seamlessly requires either direct technology integration between the various tools, or a dedicated person managing the process workflow. Both of these approaches involve a heavy overhead and in the case of the technical integration, can cause complexity and problems when the process changes later. Alternatively...you could use a RSO tool that manages this entire process seamlessly. 

How does RSO help? 

Orchestration acts as an underlying ‘conveyor belt’ for your automation program, moving work through each stage of the process to be dealt with by RPA bots, other intelligent automation technology agents or humans, depending on the most suitable worker for the task. RSO really is excellent at getting the balance between the human and digital workforce right for companies, and maintaining functional oversight of an organisation’s whole process. 

The technical challenges around ‘hooking’ each tool into the next step of an automated process are numerous, taking up a lot of IT and team resources. The option of having a human managing this work queue is expensive (and could be a mind-numbing task for most human workers…) 

With orchestration, companies remove the need for programming and technical integration. Addtionally, companies avoid getting pinned down by a reliance on one tool provider when it comes to developing their processes, if they are outsourcing their requirements. 

A ‘plug and play’ mindset 

For many organisations, automation requirements are likely to be broader than they can hope to meet with any one tool. Decision-makers can shoot themselves in the foot somewhat by approaching business issues with a mentality that they need a complete match for the area of business requirement from their intelligent automation tool. 

This puts a real barrier up against quick implementation (which would have helped improve efficiency and costs). After all, when looking to match a process to a tool totally, what if there isn't a 100% match? Long wait times, wasted resources and lost opportunities. 

Orchestration allows stakeholders to use a tool to deliver smaller chunks of capability within a process. This opens up time benefits such as efficiency and headcount savings, as it avoids the need to wait until a tool can offer a better fit with the total requirements. This allows companies to redeploy people to do more interesting or valuable things in the shorter term. Essentially, before capability for an entire process is available, companies can ‘plug and play’ by going straight to one specific capability area. 

Up to now, many organisations simply haven’t seen another option to replace the often costly and time consuming integrations that are required to keep the elements of their RPA programme working as one. But now, with the rise of Robotic Service Orchestration, they have the opportunity to reduce time and effort spent on running automation initiatives. 

RSO negates the need for extensive IT resources being invested into making intelligent automation tools work together; matches the right task to the right workforce member (robot or human); and lets organisations meet capability requirements that much quicker. It’s very quickly becoming obvious that the new key for automation success is ‘orchestrate to innovate.’

About The Author

Kit Cox's picture

Kit is an entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in the BPO and technology industries. Kit founded Enate with a view to disrupting the shared service and BPO market via automation, AI and RPA. He has developed a robotic orchestration platform which manages end-to-end service provision process across humans and robots, ensuring the optimal journey to automation. Enate’s disruptive SaaS platform deploys within weeks, reducing time to automate by 75%, and providing cost savings upwards of 25%.
Twitter: @KitCoxEnate