Points of View

Service Orchestration Is Changing the Automation Discussion

May 24, 2016 Tom Reuner

Although there is increasing maturation in the market development of Intelligent Automation (IA), much of the discourse is stuck around task automation predominantly in the context of RPA. Even though there is a plethora of other often much more comprehensive approaches, much of the attention is being paid to short-term, largely opportunitistic projects to drive out cost. Such short-termism will slow down the journey toward the As-a-Service Economy. Yet, there is a shift in the market starting to set in: Vendors like Redwood and Automic position themselves from a business function point of view, while service providers like Atos, TechMahindra and Hexaware are linking IA tools through orchestration engines with ServiceNow to enable much more holistic IA strategies. One vendor that is starting to come up in those discussions on orchestration more and more is Cortex and we had the chance to discuss some of these issues with their executives recently.


The Cortex automation platform evolved out of a more IT centric scenario to address a diverse set of use cases including event driven automation, service provisioning and service assurance automation. The common denominator for these use cases is the asynchronous hierarchical platform that allows individual executions to run and communicate interdependently based on anything from end-to-end services to simple sequences of tasks which all embed intelligence driven decisions that emulate human reasoning. Through self-managing and self-remediating capabilities, Cortex overlaps with broader IA capabilities such as RPA and Autonomics yet the core value proposition is focused on integrating and orchestrating the plethora of IA tools as well as more traditional automation approaches. Similar to Automic, these capabilities extend the task based automated provisioning of big data analytics with workflow, governance, intelligence and service definition to create the self-managing offering for data lakes as a service. Thus, Cortex is aligned with the evolution of IA that will see an increasing integration of broad analytics capabilities into ever more automated service delivery. Cortex claims that the reason simpler automation technologies fail to meet expectations is that they only address the task actions which account for less than 10% of time. More than 90% of operations time is spent on managing data, events, decisions, planning and strategies, so automating the human decision making will result in far greater improvement in the quality and velocity of service, and cost reduction for either existing operations or new digitalized services.


Cortex, like other vendors, has been challenged to get a seat at the table for the expanding discussions on IA due to the a lack of commonly accepted terminology for these themes. By virtue of addressing a broad set of use cases Cortex can not be easily positioned or pigeonholed into any of the mainstream approaches such as RPA and Autonomics. So, we are starting to see the emerging notion of Service Orchestration within the context of both IA as well as broader automation approaches such as ServiceNow. For the service providers that we have called out above, Cortex sits in-between ServiceNow and the plethora of IA approaches, thus evolving into a critical building block for the broader IA proposition.


The ever increasing maturity in the market development of Intelligent Automation creates a necessity to orchestrate and integrate a diverse set of automation approaches across the Intelligent Automation Continuum. Therefore, the focus needs to shift from tasks that appear as with relatively tactical benefits to more holistic strategies that fundamentally decouple service delivery from labor arbitrage at a strategic level. Such an orchestration includes innovation such as self-learning and self-remedations as Cortex is demonstrating will become a new focal point for the industry.


We will assess this as well as the fast changing market dynamics in our forthcoming Blueprint on Intelligent Automation. The emphasis here is on how service providers are supporting clients on their journey toward the As-a-Service Economy by providing holistic automation strategies. Should you be interested to discuss this in more detail, just drop us a line: [email protected].