The sunset of Internet Explorer and implications for RPA

IE11 support ends this year and Edge will be the primary browser for all MS-based applications. WonderBotz shares what to expect and how it will impact your organization.

By Vivek Goel

Following the Microsoft announcement that IE11 support will end in 2021 and Edge will be the primary browser for all MS-based applications, enterprises may have to upgrade their automations to run on a modern browser such as Chrome, Edge or Firefox.

This brings about many questions for an Enterprise and WonderBotz has answers.

How does it impact me?

Any automation using IE as primary browser will be impacted. MS will no longer provide security upgrades to your IE as of August 17, 2021.

It may not be immediate, but it’s only a matter of time before IE is shut down completely or your internal IT team forcefully phases out IE (as an out-of-date software) from your robot OS, resulting in business discontinuity.

Is there a conversion possibility? If yes, to what extent?

To some extent, conversion is possible.

It all boils down to the way any website is rendered in a modern browser as compared to IE. That being said, the existing conversion tools (or Kits or mechanisms) provided by RPA vendors rely heavily on modifying the current element attributes or selectors to perform conversion. The accuracy of such conversion largely relies on the code quality and best practices around attributes/selectors being used while developing.

I would safely say, 40-50% of the existing code can be converted using some of these techniques. The key to success and timelines of such conversion lies in modularity of the code, code quality and amount of testing to be performed. This suggests your older RPA may be most at risk, depending upon how your capability was initially launched.

Do I really need to upgrade all my automations?

We strongly suggest performing these upgrades before the official end of support for IE to make your automation future proof and remove the dependencies.

These conversions could be tricky and require a high degree of research and understanding about the RPA tool along with HTML, CSS and other underlying technology on which the website is built.

Does my existing RPA vendor support all modern browsers?

Post the announcement by MS, all major RPA vendors have enhanced their products rapidly to include support for modern browsers. It depends on your current RPA tool and the choice of modern browser that you want to migrate to.

Do I need to upgrade my RPA tool?

If your current RPA tool version is below the minimum version required to support extensions provided by respective vendors, then the short answer to this is YES! Check with your RPA vendor or contact us to determine your RPA tool compatibility with modern browsers.

What if the features of IE are not available in modern browsers?

During our research, we found that many functionalities supported by IE are not available on modern browsers. There are certain alternatives that could be utilized to achieve the desired functionality. You should expect around 10-20% of the code and logic will need to be altered and modified at object/application level to manage this change.

What if my website doesn’t run exactly as it did in IE?

We don’t expect all websites to behave exactly as they were behaving in IE purely because modern websites tend to customize their UX based on the chosen browser. This could result in 10-15% of rework on your existing object/application-level code.

How easy will it be to maintain security?

Our View: Modern browsers do have a third-party store from which extensions could be downloaded. These could be restricted from organizations’ group policy to ensure no unwanted third-party extension could be installed. Your internal IT team plays a major role in this transition.

Can upgrades to modern browsers be applied easily?

Upgrades to modern browsers can be managed by having a robust group policy and an efficient IT team. Reach out to your IT Team to plan for periodic upgrades on these browsers. You will also need to keep in mind, any upgrade to these browsers needs to be communicated well in advance to your RPA center of excellence to enable smooth functioning of your automations.

Are the extensions for modern browsers provided by RPA vendors stable and secure?

Our View: From our experience, we have seen the RPA extensions provided by vendors to be stable. That being said, it’s up to the vendors to maintain no or minimal changes to the extensions to enable enterprises to manage their automations easily.

Are the extensions version dependent?

Normally these extensions are dependent on any major release of the RPA tool. Going forward, the RPA vendors will have to make extensions version-independent to win the trust of enterprises.

How much time could it take to convert these automations?

Timeline for conversion varies according to your current code quality and modularity. We also recommend 1 cycle of UAT for each automation. We have a comprehensive offering, stitched together with our award-winning methodology, which could help you convert your automations without any service interruptions. Contact us to get a quote on the conversion.

Do I also need to upgrade my infrastructure?

If you have been experiencing outages or issues driven by weak infrastructure or if your current robot OS is nearing OOS, you should consider addressing both as a refresh strategy. We are there to help your automations be compliant with the latest OS and get you on stable ground. Invest in upgrading your existing infrastructure to get the elephant out of the way. Doing both at the same time also saves you time in terms of not having to test your automations multiple times and thereby freeing up your business users from at least 1 more cycle of UAT.