Since the industrial revolution we have been finding ways to work faster and more efficiently. What was once made by hand is now made by machines—even the makers of luxury cars use robotic assembly lines these days.

photo of robotic assembly line in a factory

IBM Robotic Process Automation with Automation Anywhere (RPA) extends this idea to repetitive UI manipulations on computers.

You can build RPA “bots” to perform a sequence of tasks that might need to be done thousands of times. Open the source file, select and copy the data, close the source file, create a new entry in the CRM tool, paste the data into the form, save and close the new entry, open the next file, etc. etc. etc.

Just imagine if you could do that without a single copy-paste faux pas and in a fraction of the time.

Now, imagine if you do could all that—and make decisions along the way.

In his article “Why you need better bots: 3 digital business automation use cases and a webinar” Harley Davis, Vice President, France Lab and Decision Management, IBM Hybrid Cloud, sets out a vision for using RPA and IBM Operational Decision Manager (ODM) that does just that. By calling ODM decision services from RPA bots you can automate choices too. For example, you could get the invoice processing bot to also add clients who bought toys before Christmas to the mail-out list for the summer toy catalogue.

Getting up to speed

There are already several resources for anyone wanting to get up to speed on this exciting idea.

Neil Kolban’s short video “Automation Anywhere and IBM ODM” quickly demonstrates the value of combining ODM and RPA. It shows how you can call a decision service to automate a choice when completing an Excel spreadsheet.

You can register and watch the replay of Jeff Goodhue’s and Stu Leibowitz’s webinar “RPA and Rules: Can business rules take software bots from basic to better”. It covers the idea in much more detail with a more in depth demo.

“IBM Robotic Process Automation with Automation Anywhere” presents RPA and shows how it can inter-operate with IBM Business Process Manager (BPM) and ODM.

Once you’ve got your head around the concepts, there are some well-developed samples for you to try. See:

And when you’ve done that, why not share your own samples on GitHub?


Image source: shared under Creative Commons 2.0.

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