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Blog > April 2020 > What Do RPA & WLA Have in Common with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup?

What Do RPA & WLA Have in Common with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup?

ASG Technologies this week announced the general availability of ASG-Zenith Robotic Process Services, a robotic process automation (RPA) offering. During its development and since its introduction, many have asked how RPA compares and contrasts with workload automation (WLA) as well as ASG’s offerings in that area – ASG-Zeke for on-mainframe workload management and ASG-Zena for distributed and cloud workload management. I like to start that conversation by asking the questioner, “When was the last time you had a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup?”

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is a delicious combination of a milk chocolate coating around a coarse-grained peanut butter creme. For many years, it was marketed as having come together by accident: getting peanut butter on a milk chocolate bar or chocolate in an open jar of peanut butter. The holder of the first would accuse the other, “You got peanut butter on my chocolate!”, to which the other would reply, “You got chocolate in my peanut butter!”  Each would then try the combination and agree it tasted delicious…and to this day I agree.

This is an apt example of two things that may not seem like they go together but mix perfectly. The same is true for RPA and WLA – even catching notice in the latest EMA Radar Report for WLA. In this report, ASG received the award for being “The First to Orchestrate a Companion RPA Product.” RPA fits a need within many enterprises by putting the ability to automate repetitive, low-value front-office data entry tasks into the hands of line-of-business professionals – those who are closest to the work, know what needs to be done, can describe it exactly, and then modify it quickly if needed. This frees expensive human resources to tackle tasks that cannot be automated – e.g. ,engaging with customers, ensuring they feel valued and positively disposed toward the enterprise, and addressing issues and errors that require one-off solutions. Coupled with highly accurate optical character recognition (OCR), as the ASG offering is, RPA can quickly capture the details to start credit applications, government registrations and other types of data input that are critically necessary, without innately requiring human fingers on keyboards. In fact, RPA technology can complete it more accurately, consistently, and quickly than humans ever could.

RPA can also abstract data from screens and transcribe it into useful alternative formats, such as creating a spreadsheet of travel costs and comparing the offers from a variety of different online travel agents and brokers. It can interact with traditional user interfaces – such as mainframe 3270 screens or early two-tier client server application with no APIs – to create useful reports. It can even combine and perform operations on content from those kinds of sources and others. RPA allows the lines-of-business to achieve its goals more quickly and with less red tape and frustration.

WLA, by comparison, continues to play its traditional role in the back-office automation of high-value, high-volume, high-complexity data processing that is critical to the enterprise as a whole. This might include the night batch processing that ingests all the payment card transactions received by a multitude retailers, validates their content against edits to insure accuracy, collates them so the retailers are compensated appropriately, and parcels out the transactions to all the various institutions that underwrite the payment cards purchasers used – a process known as settlement. This kind of process has an enormous amount of conditionality, vast volumes of individual data items, and short batch window during which it must complete. As such, it requires enterprise-proven workload scheduling, execution and monitoring frequently across many platforms. If such a process does not complete, or even if it completes too late to transmit its outcomes to intended third parties in the settlement network, it can cost the processing enterprise thousands, millions, sometimes even tens of millions of dollars.

RPA and WLA: The Perfect Combo

RPA and WLA each by play useful, even critical, roles in the success of the enterprise – though  things become really interesting when they intersect and interact. The general manager of ASG’s APAC operations describes the perfect example: ASG has a customer that acts as a broker for clients who want to buy and sell securities on one of the APAC countries’ stock exchange.  That enterprise uses WLA inside the company to accumulate all the buy and sell transactions their customers submitted throughout the day and, at the end of day, records of them have to be assembled into a single batch file for submission and validation of transactions to the exchange. All is well and good with the WLA performing all the work needed…right up until the point of transmitting the file. That stock exchange continues to use some traditional technology which requires the brokers to manually log in a legacy web page, presenting credentials through the keyboard, before the securities trading settlement file can be transmitted. If a human resource is not available or is distracted and late submitting credentials, it can have grave impacts for the brokerage and for the customers – this is a risk that cannot be tolerated.

Fortunately, that customer can now use the integration between ASG-Zena (WLA) workload automation and ASG-Zenith (RPA) to orchestrate a single seamless process that will execute predictably and successfully. The RPA task is simply one more job among the many required to accumulate, collate, format and write the security trade transactions to file, with the task called via a productized API integration. ASG-Zenith RPA then retrieves the needed credentials from a securely encrypted vault, starts the legacy interface, simulates keystrokes to enter the credentials in the appropriate fields and authenticates into the interface, returning a success or error code back to ASG-Zena based on results. Once logged in, the file can be transmitted and the process proceeds on, all without human intervention.

This is just one example of many that exist in enterprises around the world, showing how RPA can be the peanut butter to ASG WLA’s chocolate. ASG-Zenith enables a first of its kind RPA and WLA solution that uses both back-end (Zena) and front-end automation (RPA) which can be integrated seamlessly, providing a unified digital automation capability across organizations. ASG-Zenith provides an organic approach to build digital automation solution which enables customers to design, publish and execute RPA bots and being able to trigger these RPA “bots as a service” through external applications such as Zena. The handshake between RPA and Zena is ensures that a RPA task gets invoked within Zena process to perform bot automation and once the BOT finishes the work, it sends the results back to Zena platform to resume the process, thus creating a high value-add end-to-end automation.

Contact your ASG representative to learn more of how you can increase the span of end-to-end process automation with ASG-Zena & ASG-Zenith RPA. In the meantime, learn more about ASG’s RPA and WLA capabilities by visiting the ASG-Zena and ASG-Zenith product pages.