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Automation Anywhere and UiPath fought a rubble for a while regarding market leadership. Meanwhile, it is clear that UiPath has the upper hand, particularly since Microsoft opened up the RPA market toward the RPA “do-it-yourselfers.” UiPath could accommodate that more easily than Automation Anywhere. That being said, Automation Anywhere is a very solid tool, with a nice track-record, and has a solid foothold in mainly very large organizations (Fortune 500).

All major RPA players naturally like to invoke the biggest customers, and at Automation Anywhere, that has been the approach from the beginning. The tool is scalable, robust and has high market penetration; elements that inspire confidence. Also present are all the elements for a robust ecosystem: bot-store, AI integration, community version and university. On the other hand, a hefty investment in both licenses, infrastructure and training is required before getting started. The number of available developers is very limited in the Benelux market.

The pros and cons

Benefits

AI Integration

With its “IQ Bot,” Automation Anywhere is strongly committed to further embedding other components of artificial intelligence into its RPA solution. In particular, machine learning and natural language processing are being used to still make unstructured data usable for processing by databots. Recently, however, Automation Anywhere has come under strong attack on that flank from IBM.

Bot Store

The bot store is still best compared to an app store, but for RPA scripts. Pre-built, generic modules that can be downloaded to use on their own or as part of a larger automation. That the idea caught on is clear, as UiPath did not take long to develop a similar initiative.

Attended and unattended

Attended and unattended are common terms in the context of Databots. This is simply about the distinction between an end user working directly with and interacting with the Databot, versus a bot invisibly completing processes end-to-end behind the scenes. Both scenarios are supported by Automation Anywhere, leading to broad deployment.

Good scalability

With its roots in large organizations, scalability is ingrained in Automation Anywhere, so to speak. Both the technical infrastructure (including a “control room”) and the functionalities to easily reuse components of scripts. On top of that, Botfarm offers a cloud solution that allows capacity to be adjusted quasi-continuously as needed.

Cons

Cost

As the focus on larger customers suggests, Automation Anywhere comes at a price. This is clearly above that of Microsoft or UiPath, although AA’s starter package does offer some nice extras. The licensing formulas offer several options, including an interestingly priced entry-level package.

Installation

Installation and technical set-up are far from simple. It takes a lot of fine-tuning before the data bots are up and running in a more complex IT architecture. With that, unfortunately, some of the basic advantages of rpa are lost: Installation takes longer and more support is required from your IT department. That said, compared to classic automation and systems integrations, Automation Anywhere remains a whole lot easier to get running. With its release in the fall of 2019, Automation Anywhere did take an important step by making bots available through a web interface, with no local installation required. In a number of cases, this counteracts the architecture issue.

Usability

Among the major rpa players, Automation Anywhere is considered the less user-friendly. This is largely due to the fact that, unlike with the other players, the workflows are presented less graphically. The development environment is more code-driven, which means that persons without or with a limited background in programming may have a little more trouble mastering scripting. On the other hand, Automation Anywhere does have a recorder functionality, which by recording human actions, automatically initiates the final script. The available activities can also be added to the script via a simple drag and drop, similar to the other tools.

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