As your company researches automation solutions, it’s critical that you draw a hard line between autonomic systems and bot-based Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Although both tools are popular, and both offer some level of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the two types of technology are different and are designed for specific purposes. Before we delve too deeply into their individual benefits, and how they differ, let’s define each.

Although there are many different interpretations of what a bot can be, let’s use Technopedia’s apt and succinct definition: “An Internet bot, in its most generic sense, is software that performs an automated task over the Internet. More specifically, a bot is an automated application used to perform simple and repetitive tasks that would be time-consuming, mundane or impossible for a human to perform.” When you think of a bot, think of the software for example that resets your password on an e-commerce site.

As we’ve written in the past, autonomics as it pertains to IT is derived from the concept of the autonomic nervous system. The human body regulates biologic processes even when humans aren’t actively thinking about them – it’s why you continue breathing while sleeping. When discussing automation in IT, autonomics empowers machines to self-regulate and self-optimize without constant human oversight.

What a Bot Can Do

You can implement bots to handle a host of basic tasks, such as password resets, deleted email recovery, or any task that doesn’t require the structuring of unstructured information or autonomous decision-making. Bots are great at sending notifications when events are triggered, such as employee requests or network outages. In essence, they’re great for replacing mundane human tasks, such as watching a screen all day to see if call volumes increase or decrease within a call center.

But what happens when there’s a slight modification to the environment in which these bots are running? What happens when your company inevitably upgrades its technology and the previous environment is aged out? The bots will have to be reengineered, and even then they’ll only work properly until any subsequent modifications or upgrades are made.

What Autonomics Can Do

When organizations implement autonomics-based solutions, they’re empowering a collection of virtual engineers to solve problems before those issues damage your environment. Predictive monitoring and analysis are basic requirements for IT operations. Autonomics allows virtual engineers to respond to data and run automations in order to remedy a problem. Instead of assigning a human engineer a support ticket every time a network becomes congested, autonomics automatically processes traffic data and solves the problem before a human worker even knows an event threshold was met or exceeded. Autonomics stays ahead of anomalies before they cause issues to your end-to-end IT environment.

Perhaps more importantly, autonomics solutions are designed to become more intelligent the more your teams collaborate with the platform’s virtual engineers. For example, you’ve built an automation for a server failure, but the automation doesn’t work because of one minor system change. Bots will shut down and need to be manually reprogrammed. True autonomic IT will ask a human engineer for help, monitor the fix and add the new procedure to the back end of the original automation. This way, if your environment suffers the same issue the next time it attempts to solve a server failure, there will be multiple options for resolution.

When you sit with vendors to discuss IT operations solutions, be sure to ask them whether they’re offering a collection of bots or a truly autonomic system. Bots will be beneficial in the short term for certain repetitive tasks, and they’ll free your employees from the mundane. Autonomics will improve and provide even greater value over time, and will help you build an environment in which virtual and human labor collaborate to solve crucial problems.