The latest hype seems to be Software Robotics or Automation Tools.
These are business workflow tools that are doing repetitive tasks instead of humans. Basically they are programmed to “look” at one application and retype certain values to another application. That “looking” process can be either via Win API functions or just screen scraping techniques.
In any case, they are front-end integration tools that are “integrating” your legacy applications that are not communicating between each other. What a human used to do by re-keying information across many applications is now being replaced by these software robots.
The biggest players in this field are:
I truly admire these companies as they managed to find a niche area that is very attractive to large organizations. They understand how large organizations are inertial, especially when it comes to dealing with legacy IT systems (as an example, I have seen some of the core IT systems that are 43 years old!).
Also, these companies have a unique value proposition that appeals to all big companies: “we can help you get rid of people and save you money”.
Nothing wrong with that approach. It’s just direction where the world is heading.
The problem I have with these automation tools is that they are just prolonging life of systems that should be either upgraded or decommissioned.
Another example is Capriza tool that is seamlessly exposing your legacy application as mobile apps. Again, by doing screen scraping.
These tools are tactical solutions that are just hiding your problem under the carpet.
As an architect it hurts me to see these developments. We should ask more fundamental questions: “why these two systems cannot integrate with each other on the backend?”
Unfortunately, market is getting very competitive and organizations are under a huge pressure to deliver and to react fast on any change out there.
I believe there is no help for large organizations as long as this kind of mentality is dominant. Some new startups that are entering markets without any legacy behind are just going to swallow “big and old” players.
The sooner we start tackling real problems, the sooner we can start competing with the newcomers. Otherwise, so long…