One digital transformation challenge emerging from pandemic threats and opportunities is causing sleepless nights for C-level executives: keeping workload automation costs and disruptions under control due to exploding workload volumes.

During China’s economic boom, one of the largest financial institutions supporting farmers in China was bogged down by massive increases in business volume. It was struggling to keep service levels high even with all staff on deck and using automation and IT to cope as best as they could.

The story ended well when the firm adopted a workload automation (WLA) solution to reduce manual workloads and enhance the digital capabilities of their existing IT infrastructure. The WLA system even boosted management efficiency due to the provision of enhanced visibility and housekeeping of the enormous workflows, which facilitated better and faster decision making.

Total savings gained from the WLA project: 712B yuan.

All over the world, WLA (which includes robotic process automation) has been part of Industry 4.0 movement to not only build intelligence into digital systems to automate repetitive tasks, but also to automate the intelligent automation.

However, with the past two years of pandemic disruptions and IT changes, WLA adopters are running into a new set of hurdles: they have been locked into rising WLA costs and maintenance issues that have escalated with sudden digitalization needs and exploding workloads.

New challenges for WLA

Research by EMA has shown that 77% of enterprises are experiencing an increasing number of jobs run each month, presenting scalability problems leading to increasing licensing costs for users of many WLA products.

Also, the rapid pace of change and the new features demanded of WLA software in the rapid call for continual digitalization and business pivoting has meant the frequency of upgrades has also increased. IT organizations are now burdened with more change management—and the associated costs and stresses involved.

Cost and upgrades are the two pain points most mentioned by its 20,000 global WLA users. The stresses and costs that come with the increasing importance and role of WLA in broader enterprise automation has caused many organizations to change WLA software to gain new features and minimize other challenges. EMA research has found that 45% of enterprises changing to a new WLA software were motivated by the cost of their current solution. This is particularly true for those with a high volume of jobs.

Switching WLA solutions: more pain points

In recognizing the increased costs and upgrade disruptions associated with the WLA solution installed in an enterprise, the most obvious answer would be to minimize these pain points through contractual renegotiations with the WLA vendor, or as a last resort, to switch to a vendor that offers more costing and upgrade flexibilities.

However, with the enormous volume of batch jobs needing constant WLA processing, even switching vendors can come with massive pain points.

Some enterprises already have too many servers to manage; others have fine-tuned the WLA integration with so many patches and customized workarounds for their legacy mainframes that switching to a new WLA-optimized cloud-based platform can be a daunting prospect with intimidating long-term business implications.

Solving the WLA conundrum

With pain points existing in both existing WLA solutions and in any considerations for migrating to other WLA providers (which may involve whole-of-enterprise infrastructural migration to the Cloud to future-proof against scalability issues)—what can business leaders do to upgrade their WLA and free their organization from future vendor lock-ins?

According to the EMA research mentioned earlier, the long-term sustainable upgrade solution would offer the following advantages:

  • For costings issues: Choose a solution that does not charge based on work volume at all. Instead, it should be CPU-core based and have a long serviceable lifespan covering free upgrades for multiple versions of the solution.
  • For scalability issues: Find a solution that is fully cloud-compliant and yet backward compatible with legacy systems, with a proven track record of scalability and an established global user base showing proof of that scalability.
  • For system integration issues: A great WLA solution to switch to would be quick to install and integrate into any legacy or cloud-based infrastructure, as evidenced by market share and ubiquitous use by established enterprises. Where appropriate, the solution itself must come from an established IT conglomerate with a proven track record of offering cloud-based SaaS and PaaS solutions. Enterprises that want to upgrade not only their WLA but also their entire IT infrastructure as a package will then have a seamless platform that is WLA-native.

Choosing the right WLA fit

From the considerations listed above, one of the WLA tools fulfilling such best-in-class criteria is used by more organizations in the region that others, with many adopters being long-time users: the Hitachi JP1/AJS3.

The EMA study data believes that this is mainly because the Hitachi JP1/AJS3 solution “addresses two of the biggest pain points of WLA users: 1) Upgrades, and 2) Cost. Because Hitachi licenses JP1/AJS3 in a way that is not tied to number of jobs defined or run, costs are not directly driven by additional workloads. Along with a guarantee of backward compatibility with three prior releases, JP1/AJS3 users can expand use of the product and know they can control when their upgrades occur. The result is a large and loyal customer base.”

The Hitachi JP1/AJS3 solution, now in version 12 after years of refinement, is also a mature and cloud-centric and mobile-ready WLA solution with proven ease of use and backward compatibility with the widest range of legacy infrastructures. Additionally, organizations can request a full-featured trial version to sample its capabilities in evaluating its renowned versatility and customizability.

The latest version has added best-in-class systems and operations health reporting and enhanced system management features. These powerful JP1/AJS3 tools support redundancy configurations for AWS and Azure, plus scheduled execution of jobs using a corporate ‘built-in’ calendar, applying even to workloads on the public cloud.

Continually updated to align with digital transformation trends and forecasts, the Hitachi JP1/AJS3 WLA solution is the result of a firm commitment to scale with business needs, providing expanded integrations with cloud-based environments including DevOps processes, and meeting evolving IT skills requirements.

Not only does the JP1/AJS3 provide the intelligent automation of digitalized workflows, its powerful features for intelligent monitoring (performance and network management) and intelligent governance (asset and distribution management) pitch it as a class-leading digitalization infrastructure that organizations can depend on even in periods of pandemic uncertainty.