The business world is always in flux. New technologies and strategies are released at what feels like the speed of light. One of those technologies receiving a lot of talk on blogs and social media is robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI). To help you wrap your arms around this emerging technology, I put together a high-level overview of the RPA landscape. RPA defined RPA is the use of machines to perform tasks with high precision at rapid intervals. Virtual robots (as opposed to the robots wandering in the Amazon warehouses) are used to perform automated steps in a process. A distinct aspect of virtual robots is that their actions are performed based on the end user perspective. This gives additional visibility into the viability of a software or process that a system monitoring tool would not address. Usually, these transactions are performed repetitively, and at high volumes, since the virtual robots are able to run 24/7. Types of … [Read more...] about Intro to robotic process automation
While mobile is the biggest digital channel, and app stores are swamped with new apps—as well as iterations of existing ones—daily, the ability to release faster and with higher automation coverage is still a big pain for most organizations. In the recent world quality report by Sogeti, the findings were that only 29 percent of the tests are being automated.When exploring the key reasons and challenges for such a low percentage, especially for the mobile space, we see five key challenges that can explain that low rate—some are very much related to the findings in the report.1. Tighter release schedules leave less time to automateOrganizations don’t have time to integrate new tests into their existing test cycles, and therefore have less time to develop new test code.[ Get the best office apps for your Android device, and explore 10 Android apps developers will love. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with the Mobile Tech Report newsletter. ]Due to … [Read more...] about 5 key challenges for mobile test automation
Units of space are everywhere. We can see them all around us. When we package a unit of space distinctly, we call it a container. Whether on ships in the sea, or in a storage closet, we use containers to organize things into isolated and distinct units of space. In the computing world, containers have become the distinguishing structure used to isolate and organize elements of software code. Just like containers on ships or in the closet, they can be visualized.In today’s web-centric IT world, application programming interfaces (APIs), command-line interfaces (CLIs), microservices, and other deployable software code releases all tend to reside in containers. In point of fact, container utilization has become a powerful way in which to build and maintain consistently efficient quality-controlled systems, and it has become a cornerstone of modern devops.What is devops? In a multifaceted business enterprise, people work together to achieve goals in an agile fashion. In the tech … [Read more...] about Visual automated CI/CD is essential for great devops
The power of machine learning comes at a price. Once you have the skills, the toolkit, the hardware, and the data, there is still the complexity involved in creating and fine-tuning a machine learning model.But if the whole point of machine learning is to automate tasks that previously required a human being at the helm, wouldn’t it be possible to use machine learning to take some of the drudgework out of machine learning itself?[ Review: TensorFlow, Spark MLlib, Scikit-learn, MXNet, Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, and Caffe machine learning and deep learning frameworks. | Roundup: 13 frameworks for mastering machine learning. | Cut to the key news and issues in cutting-edge enterprise technology with the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. ]Short answer: a qualified yes. A collection of techniques, under the general banner of “automated machine learning,” or AML, can reduce the work needed to prepare a model and refine it incrementally to improve its accuracy.Automated machine … [Read more...] about 6 machine learning projects to automate machine learning
Welcome to the latest BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition, Vol. 37, a periodic discussion and dissection of software, services, SOA and compute cloud-related news and events with a panel of IT analysts. The need to automate and extend complex processes is obvious. What's less obvious is the need to join the physical world of people, their habits, needs and perceptions with the artificial world of service-oriented architecture (SOA) and business process management (BPM). This interaction or junction will become all the more important as cloud-based services become more common. Our discussion, moderated by me, includes noted IT industry analysts and experts Michael Rowley, director of technology and strategy at Active Endpoints; Jim Kobielus, senior analyst at Forrester Research; and JP Morgenthal, independent analyst and IT consultant. Here are some excerpts: Michael Rowley: [With BPEL4People] you can automate the way people work with their computers and interact with other … [Read more...] about BPEL4People: Remaining Human While Automating Processes
Configure/Price/Quote (CPQ) tools provide companies technology-enabled processes by which selling organizations manage their opportunity-to-order (or lead-to-win) methodology with automated tools that impact the speed and accuracy of developing quotes, proposals, contracts and products. As sales organizations endeavor to escape the constricted economy of the 2009 recession, one of their most significant barriers is stagnant progress regarding bringing their sales cycle under control. Recent Aberdeen research published for "Inside Sales Enablement: Let Them Drink Coffee!" (December, 2010), reveals that not only did under-performing companies see a year-over-year increase in their sales cycle of 12 percent, but even the Best-in-Class -- or top 20 percent of performers among over 500 companies surveyed -- experienced a slight (1 percent) lengthening of their own lead-to-win time frame. As top-performing selling teams continue searching for ways to reduce this window as well as to … [Read more...] about The Sales Team’s Automated Backbone
There's a major disconnect between the expectations and results companies are getting when they realign processes aimed at serving their customers, as I've discovered in conversations with several manufacturers. There are several reasons why these unrealistic expectations take hold. First, nearly every manufacturer that has complained about a lack of progress didn't really have a solid handle on the problems with the process in the first place. Take quote-to-order. Manufacturers who have not seen huge benefits from redesigning this process didn't have a handle on the cost per order to begin with. In the rush to automate the process of creating quotes, they just sped up the mistakes the company was already making. Without proper metrics in place before the redesign, the company didn't know where to start modifying the process. Second, many manufacturers get swept up in the tidal wave of process-centric messaging, promises, and even case studies, but don't ever define a roadmap for … [Read more...] about Making Processes Pay
By Andrew K. Burger Oct 25, 2007 4:00 AM PT Designing effective marketing campaigns and finding the right marketing mix are primary concerns for any online retailer. They are especially important for startups and small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) competing with larger and better established e-tailers, as well as the rapidly growing number of their SMB peers. Creating marketing campaigns and finding the right channels is a process of continual experimentation and refinement. It also entails building up an expert's store of knowledge about your customers, products, markets and suppliers, as well as how to make use of analytical tools and data feeds to capitalize on them. This in turn means that startup e-tailers need to roll up their sleeves and get close and personal with all the raw data that an online retail business generates and the various data collection, analysis and automated marketing tools and methods on offer. Automating Marketing: The Basics Efforts aimed at … [Read more...] about Marketing Automation Solutions for Startups, Part 1
The term "marketing automation" is perhaps one of the most widely used, ill-defined and ambiguous terms in the marketing and sales technology landscape. Ask 10 different people how they define marketing automation, and you'll probably get 10 different answers. As an analyst, I thought it would be appropriate for me to dispel some of the myths and haziness that shroud the marketing technology landscape, particularly the use of the term "marketing automation." In my opinion, much of the uncertainty and ambiguity has stunted growth of technology that will be critical for every company to embrace in order to maintain a competitive foothold in the market. The research I have conducted has consistently shown that marketing automation technology has a direct impact on bottom-line cost reduction and top-line growth. However, before we tackle that, let's define "marketing automation." First, a disclaimer: I do not seek to provide a new standard in the market for defining marketing automation. … [Read more...] about What Is Marketing Automation and Why Should You Care?
By Ron Wegmann Sr. Mar 31, 2009 4:00 AM PT Companies deploy CRM solutions to improve business performance, maximize customer relationships and enhance customer service, but many deployments fail to meet expectations. There are many reasons technology rollouts fail, from lack of planning to lack of funding, but there's another, less-understood culprit: poorly defined business processes. Many companies expect to reap benefits from the automation capabilities of technology, but without careful evaluation, they can end up automating bad business processes. Steps to Deployment Following are four steps to help companies be more successful deploying a CRM solution that achieves true business benefits while building a foundation for future success. Take Stock of Existing Processes Just about every company can save time and money by automating tasks and procedures. The first step in achieving the benefits of automation is to fully understand the processes to be automated. Some … [Read more...] about How Business Process Definition Can Rescue Your Rollout
Companies are now in the third stage of "economic downturn syndrome." Having passed through Panic and Denial, they're firmly in Acceptance. Panicky knee-jerk responses such as cost-cutting, layoffs, tightening budgets and resources are a thing of the past. Most companies have had a quick breather and segued to the stage of a more carefully considered response: monitoring processes and taking steps to improve efficiencies and productivity. The pings and misses in the old economic engine are more noticeable, now that the flurry of Panic has subsided. It's time to tune the system, clean out redundant processes, and make the machine run more efficiently and smoothly. So long as we're at it, why not also gear up for the rebound, and be ahead of the curve when the economy rises? Automation technology offers practical ways to reduce costs, at a price that's surprisingly well-tuned to the times. Why Automate? In the last decade, cost-saving measures usually required a substantial … [Read more...] about Automation: A Lube Job for a Sluggish Economy
The trap of unchecked virtualization complexity can have a stifling effect on the advantageous spread of virtualization in data centers. Automation, policy-driven processes and best practices are offering more opportunities for optimizing virtualization so that server, storage and network virtualization can move from points of progress into more holistic levels of adoption. The goals then are data center transformation, performance and workload agility, and cost and energy efficiency. Many data centers are leveraging automation and best practices to attain 70 percent and even 80 percent adoption rates. By taking such a strategic outlook on virtualization, process automation sets up companies to better exploit cloud computing and IT transformation benefits at the pace of their choosing, not based on artificial limits imposed by dated or manual management practices. To explore how automation can help achieve strategic levels of virtualization, BriefingsDirect brought together panelists … [Read more...] about Process Automation: Exponential Challenges, Exponential Rewards
FRANK MOSS IS now back at the helm at Bowstreet, which this week launched Version 5.0 of its Business Factory offering. Bowstreet helped pioneer the Web services category and is now leveraging J2EE-based application servers to provide a new layer of Web services automation. In an interview with InfoWorld Editor in Chief Michael Vizard and Test Center Director Steve Gillmor, Moss, who played a pivotal role in establishing client/server computing, shares his views on why Web services is going to be an even bigger phenomenon and why the major vendors are not to be trusted. InfoWorld: What's your goal for Bowstreet today? Moss: Our experience has been that if you look at how people are using Web services, and at the kinds of applications, portals, and applications they're assembling, this is really a style of computing. The way in which businesses use software is going to be revolutionized by Web services and we want to be a big part of it. Although times have been difficult, the … [Read more...] about Bowstreet founder extols Web services automation
Dear Bob ... I have been wondering around in the wilderness of Business-Process automation & just realized you just might be a source of clarity. Here's my problem: A project I'm working on (I'm a DBA) involves "automating" a process the business users have. Specifically, they want to automate a check sheet they use to control how income is verified (we're in the home mortgage business). They want a Windows screen, which is basically an electronic check sheet. [ Have a tech story to share? If we publish it, we’ll send you a $50 American Express gift card — and keep you anonymous. Send it to [email protected] | We've all been there: 7 hardware horror stories from the help desk. | Follow Off the Record on Twitter and subscribe to the newsletter. ]Now, this is ok, as far as it goes, saving paper and all that. However, one of the business's continual complaints is that our process for closing loans is too expensive. We need to make it more efficient. Whenever we … [Read more...] about Software request or process redesign?
IBM on Wednesday will announce integrations between its Rational and Tivoli product lines that enable users to automate processes across development, testing, and operations teams. The service management offerings feature Rational products for automating the build cycle during the development phase and Tivoli technologies for automatic deployment of software onto production services and management of performance, IBM said. [ Read about IBM's cloud efforts with Rational products. | Keep up with app dev issues and trends with InfoWorld's Fatal Exception blog. ] [ Have a tech story to share? If we publish it, we’ll send you a $50 American Express gift card — and keep you anonymous. Send it to [email protected] | We've all been there: 7 hardware horror stories from the help desk. | Follow Off the Record on Twitter and subscribe to the newsletter. ]"Widespread use of the Internet and easy access to high computing power is making it possible for companies of all sizes … [Read more...] about IBM pairs Rational and Tivoli products to automate development processes
It's 5 a.m. I've been working way too long on a new feature of Exchange and SharePoint 2013 called site mailboxes, meant to improve collaboration by letting users connect to a team mailbox (through a browser) with storage shared between Exchange and SharePoint. The configuration is extremely complex: It requires expert understanding of both Exchange and SharePoint 2013, as well as every networking skill imaginable, from DNS configuration to certificate services. And yes, PowerShell scripts (thankfully already written) are essential to successful configuration. As I plod through the prerequisites and configuration (to my ultimate success in the wee hours of the morning), I kept hearing in my head a line from one of the articles I've read on the subject by Exchange MVP Tony Redmond: "After much effort and a fair amount of swearing, I concluded that this activity is a prime candidate for automation." [ Read J. Peter Bruzzese's PowerShell primer. And learn how Microsoft is pushing admins … [Read more...] about Wanna keep your IT job? Master automation
A quiet revolution with a potential impact on the IT workforce reminiscent of outsourcing may be under way in the form of robotic process automation. Geared toward automating a variety of business and computing processes typically handled by humans, RPA will stir passions at organizations that deploy the technology, with its potential to slash jobs, shake up the relevant skills mix, and if implemented strategically, stave off the specter of outsourcing. [ Here are 6 skills a solid IT generalist should master, no matter where your life in IT leads. | Get the latest practical data center info and news with Paul Venezia's Deep End blog. ]The reason: Thanks to advances in software and artificial intelligence, automation has its sights on higher-value tasks than ever before -- and it’s already having an impact at organizations currently deploying these systems. What exactly is robotic process automation? At its core, RPA is “robotic” software that organizations configure … [Read more...] about Robotic process automation: The new IT job killer?
Jenkins 2.0, an upgrade to the popular continuous integration and continuous delivery platform for software development, is due in April with improvements to the delivery pipeline and user interface. In version 2.0, the Pipeline subsystem will enable users to automate processes and describe functions, such as for running tests and builds, said Kohsuke Kawaguchi, Jenkins founder and CTO at CloudBees. Users “can describe this choreography of automation,” he said. The capability can, for example, enable users to execute tests in parallel, he said. Pipelines will be developed by writing code in a script language that serves as a DSL on top of the Groovy language. [ Find out how to handle the real-world problems faced by developers, with InfoWorld's professional programmer's business survival guide. | Keep up with hot topics in programming with InfoWorld's Application Development newsletter. ] The capability is known as Pipeline as Code, Kawaguchi said. Pipeline as Code eases … [Read more...] about Jenkins 2.0 eases automation for dev teams
Automated testing is an integral part of the continuous delivery pipeline. Despite its benefits, in reality most organizations still use outdated manual testing processes. In one survey by XBOsoft, an automated testing consultancy, only 28 percent of the respondents automate more than 50 percent of their test cases. In another survey by WorkSoft, an SAP partner, 60 percent of survey respondents (mostly SAP customers) noted that their testing was almost fully manual.This is largely because teams want to avoid the perceived pain involved in setting up an automated testing process. But the effort is definitely worth it. By identifying the right tool, framework, and technical approach, organizations can adopt automation in a more seamless process.[ Get the most out of collaborative programming with InfoWorld's 20 essential pointers for Git and GitHub. | Keep up with hot topics in programming with InfoWorld's Application Development newsletter. ]This article considers automated testing, its … [Read more...] about Better software testing through automation
Software capable of determining the positive or negative sentiment of sentences written by humans has been unleashed on 3,891 U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, and the results are a systematic, if preliminary, analysis of which countries are our besties and which are in the doghouse. The analysis was part of a class project (pdf) by a pair of computer science undergraduates at Stanford, Xuwen Cao and Beyang Li. By looking at how often a country was mentioned, as well as whether or not it was cast in a positive or negative light, Cao and Li identified four clusters to which countries could belong: countries we don’t like that aren’t mentioned very often (red), countries we sort-of don’t like that aren’t mentioned very often (teal), and countries spoken of positively that also aren’t mentioned very often (blue). Since these cables were supposed to be classified, we can assume they are candid. There weren’t any countries that were mentioned … [Read more...] about Automated Processing of Wikileaks Cables Reveals U.S. Friends, Foes