This story of why I chose to join my new company and not why I left my old company. This week I started as the VP & Regional CTO – Americas for Automation Anywhere. Automation Anywhere is a software company that provides products in the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) category. In fact, they are identified as a leader in this category by most of the major software industry analyst groups. Moreover, RPA is one of the fastest growing segments in the software industry.
Hot company, hot market, tremendous upside growth potential and executive role alone are good reasons for me to have switched, but not the primary reasons for me. When it comes to RPA and intelligent automation I am a believer. I have delivered automation solutions to clients in the past, I have developed software that enables rapid development of new business processes and I have been party to some amazing changes that come from being able to apply emerging technologies for purposes of process change.
For me my story starts back in 1988. I had just graduated college with a degree in Computer Science, I had been developing software as a consultant while in school, living on Long Island (NYC) and was ready to become the next Alex P. Keaton (link for those too young to remember https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_P._Keaton ) and take over Wall St. I landed a lucrative contract with Citibank Credit Cards division to help them automate their credit line increase/decrease process.
At the time, Citibank’s credit card system was mainframe-based and they hired rooms full of people to go through pages of information on terminals, copy the information off, determine if their credit line should be increased or decreased and enact the change. My task was to take this new product called a PC 3270 emulator, which turned a PC into a mainframe terminal, and pull the data automatically for analysis by SAS analytics package. This was big data when it was an infant, so I guess little data. Anyway, with a little Turbo Pascal, something called High-Level Language Application Programming Interface (HLLAPI) that allowed the PC 3270 emulator to be accessed from a program, and an unwillingness to let the fragility of these components stop me, I developed software that recorded an agent going through the screens and pulling the data fields into a comma separated value (CSV) formatted file.
That took me 3 months and allowed Citibank to save millions in labor and real estate costs.
My next experience with process automation didn’t come until I started Avorcor in 2004. I developed software that allowed companies to modernize their warehouse management and retail operations software without having to re-invest in changing their core systems. My primary client was VIP Auto out of Maine. By layering in my microservices VIP was able to develop out new business processes in weeks that allowed them to significantly improve their profitability. Here is a video that was created when they won the RL Polk award for one of these improvements https://youtu.be/1vchs1zPjbU . If you want to see a story about real digital transformation, watch this video.
It was at VIP that I got to witness firsthand that automation not only improves company profitability but also the lives of its employees. It simplified their ability to more rapidly locate and pull the right parts in the warehouse, focus on helping customers instead of spending their time being frustrated by manual processes and, in one case, improved the ability of a legally blind warehouse worker to no longer have to struggle reading their old LED-based scanners, but instead use modern accessibility-driven user interface on new LCD-based touch screen scanners.
Again, all these changes were implemented very quickly, weeks and months, instead of the year or two it would have taken if they implemented new software and then started to implement their new processes using that software.
Needless to say I am enamored of the potential that automation brings. In both cases I wrote software using a high-level programming language. Automation Anywhere, removes most of the need to write code to achieve these goals. The software uses a visual development paradigm and incorporates the ability to use emerging technologies more effectively. One of the most pertinent of these is artificial intelligence but could also apply to blockchain and cloud computing services. It brings the power of what I was able to do with Citibank and VIP Auto to technically-savvy workers across the business, or as we like to say in the industry democratizes access to these technologies in way that no longer fosters a reliance on IT alone.
For me, I am most looking forward to watching how this technology can reshape business and improve the lives of workers. I am hoping that each week I can affect the types of outcomes I saw with Citibank and VIP Auto.
I am a believer.
Check us out http://www.automationanywhere.com