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In any business there are tedious manual IT tasks that have to be done on a regular basis, tasks such as printing monthly reports, running maintenance utilities, archival backups, transmitting data and so on. While it is bad enough having to perform these thankless tasks, there are additional downsides—time spent and productivity lost–which in the real world add up to unrecoverable costs.

Tethys Solutions’ Automation AnyWhere 5.0 offers a tangible answer to those intangible problems by creating automated processes to drive manual tasks. While automation itself is nothing new and many users have turned to macros or scripts to automate mundane tasks, Tethys expands the software automation concept beyond the individual application or event by eliminating the tedious programming often associated with creating macros or scripts.

Automation Anywhere is available in four different versions—an on-demand version, which retails for $169.95, a standard edition that retails for $349.95, premier $695.95 and an enterprise version for $2,495.95.

The concept behind the product is quite simple; a task is recorded using the Smart Task recorder, which is stored and scheduled to run automatically. Although the concept is simple, the technology needed to automate task in a windows environment is quite complex. At first blush, recording and recreating a series of tasks seems pretty straight forward, but there are several considerations that can quickly throw a monkey wrench into the works. For example, what if the application launch icon has moved on the desktop, what if the active window’s size and location has changed, what if the PC is unable to keep up with the automated task – any of those issue can quickly make a macro go down in flames. In other words, in the world of task automation, hiccups are not allowed.

Automation Anywhere has overcome those problems, and many others, to deliver a reliable automation experience to the user. The product employs templates and specialized technologies to adapt to more than 40 different interface changes that could impact playback of a recorded action. The product knows how to interpret Web controls into scripts with “Web recorder,” an activity capture utility that understands all Web controls. The product can record any action in a browser, such as clicking a link or a button or a check box. If Web sites change and links or buttons move, Automation Anywhere will still accurately replay the task.

Automation Anywhere offers speed controls, where tasks can be run at the same speed as recorded or in a high-speed mode. This reduces execution time, where mouse movements are eliminated to offer the maximum task speeds. Any created task can be edited and users have the ability to insert additional commands—the product supports more than 250 commands, which include Windows actions, cut and paste and loops. That gives users the ability to create highly customized scripts. Scripts can be executed based upon a schedule or an action. For example, a script could be created that launches upon user logon—that could auto open applications, perform a backup or pretty much any task imaginable. Or, a task could be scheduled to occur at a certain time each day, such as e-mailing a sales report at midnight or creating a call log during a break period.

Administrators can define tasks that are auto deployed to desktops, a great help when it comes to rolling out upgrades. Tasks can also be converted over to executables, making deployment much simpler for common tasks. The product has support for variables and auto response triggers, which allows users to create complex, intelligent scripts that can simulate user actions—a great feature for testing interfaces or debugging processes. For some, the ability to capture and extract data will be the key feature. Here, the product can recognize data elements on Web pages, spreadsheets or other screens and then capture that data to either store or insert into a variable. That way, the data can dictate the automation process or at the very least, data can be mashed up from many sources for research and analysis at a later time.

The products features go on and on, it seems that Tethys has thought of everything when it comes to automation and scripting. For solution providers, the product can be used to support managed services tasks and help to bolster the bottom line, or sold to customers to automate tasks.

Solution providers will find that the profit potential with Automation Anywhere will come from creating scripts and training customers. While Tethys does offer partner discounts and decent margins, the true potential of the product to generate revenue will be realized from implementation and setup chores.