Tech reviews

Automation and integration with APIs from ERP to point products: Workato review

Modern enterprises with aggressive growth plans are realizing that there is a need to integrate their SaaS, cloud, and legacy applications and orchestrate automated workflows of critical processes across the business — to achieve greater efficiency and drive scalable growth.

As businesses grow and use more apps, departments within the business begin relying heavily on IT to bring together data silos and manage the increasingly complex app ecosystem. There is, however, a chronic shortage of skilled IT staff in key areas, especially those capable of hand-coding custom integrations between apps.

With thousands of business processes piling up at the door of the IT department, most requests for automated solutions or iterative improvements/updates are delayed due to a lack of resources and available time. And as backlogs develop and processes evolve, jobs reaching the head of the queue may have lost relevance, have to be reassessed and reformulated, and therefore return to the “back of the line.”

Some IT departments might choose to outsource automation and integration, but the type of ever-changing, bespoke, and mission-critical coding that drives the modern enterprise can be expensive to build and maintain as the business develops and scales. Furthermore, in the current climate of the pandemic, IT resources are rightly dedicated elsewhere to maintaining the business equilibrium and supporting the remote working practices that have been enforced on the organization.

The rise of Citizen Integration

Dynamic and successful businesses are increasingly turning to stakeholders in the business instead of relying solely on IT. When individual line-of-business experts get involved in transforming their own business processes via low-code or no-code platforms, it reduces time-to-market and business transformation gets a turbocharge boost. At the same time, enterprises can unlock the skills and experience of these business users to power greater transformation and growth.

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In practical terms, when people closest to problems solve business issues, organizations can easily scale automation and integration, and multiply the impact a thousandfold.

Low-code/No-code — the Detailed Path

To enable more people to use it, technology must become simpler and easier. At the core of the low-code/no-code movement is the quest to empower non-developers to own the digital transformation of their specialisms, and developers to build and execute faster. This is the surest path to businesses achieving automation across the whole enterprise.

Here are our key recommendations for a low-code/no-code platform that would inspire developers and non-developers alike:
– Superb, intuitive interface. Software that is difficult to use or unintuitive represents lost investment—the cost of deployment, licenses, and time developing and training stakeholders. Software must be easy to use, conform to UX normalities, and should not require knowledge of technical concepts to operate.

– Empower data sharing. The low-code/no-code platform should provide seamless access to the complex ecosystem of apps, services, databases, and resources: both internal and of partner organizations, such as suppliers or logistics partners. Data has to be shared across cloud-based SaaS apps, on-premise bespoke code, point software, and broad-value ERPs via smart API integrations, all configurable by end-users.

– The secret of speed. Because businesses are rapidly changing, any software development platform has to respond quickly, whether that is to iterative updates or for new applications and services. The constantly-changing nature of the organization has to be reflected in the platform.

– Ready-mades and community. Most companies use the same types of software and services: operations systems, HR software, databases of customer histories, metrics, financial information, and so on. Therefore, any low-code or no-code development platform has to have easy access to a library of API integrations and pre-built templates of common workflows. Furthermore, there needs to be a facility to share these internally and with chosen partners to expedite best outcomes along the full business value chain.

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– Keeping it safe. Any low-code/no-code platform has to allow IT oversight for security purposes, but without having to actively involve developers in the everyday automations and integrations emplaced by citizen developers.


The Editor’s Viewpoint

Here at Tech Wire Asia, we see multiple low-code or no-code solutions come across our desks every month. Workato will be familiar to anyone who is researching this area, having been named by Gartner as a leader in the enterprise iPaaS space for three consecutive years. It’s a specialist platform that represents the next logical leap from “traditional” task automation solutions like RPA (robotic process automation) to automating across entire enterprises, and reflects the dynamism of companies that need to expand rapidly.

Workato is an example of where considerable effort has been invested creating a platform that emphasizes ease of use. A conversational UX means there’s no need for specialized coding skills. And with the availability of thousands of app connectors for common apps and a community-contributed library of workflow templates, describing, building, and testing automations is intuitive and fast even for non-technical business users.

Stakeholder-users can create and iterate on their own solutions without having to wait for bespoke coding from IT’s DevOps teams. IT, on the other hand, retains overall governance and control in terms of security—down to individual integration protocols.

The more teams are enabled to build their own automations, the more enterprises can benefit from driving efficiencies through automating processes within and between business functions like Finance, IT, Marketing, Sales, and more.

Workato combines an iPaaS (integration platform-as-a-service) offering with API-powered task automations that work both on a user interface level and behind the scenes. Critical business data can be shared between systems so that automated workflows for business processes can be built quickly. There are, too, powerful chatbots that connect business apps like Workday and Salesforce with collaboration hubs like Slack and Teams. Users can build intelligent approval workflows and get notifications for prescribed actions in other apps without needing to jump from app to app, so they can get quality work done.

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The next steps

Many organizations and commercial companies across APAC and Australasia have begun their automation journeys. Despite good progress, some have faltered — sometimes due to older software that does not fully empower the so-called “citizen developer.” Many of these businesses have begun automation projects but go no further than the simple capabilities and linear possibilities of legacy automation platforms.

If that is the case, or your organization is looking to develop its automation and integration strategy, we recommend this white paper. It presents a roadmap to benchmark your automation maturity, and is invaluable reading to inform your enterprise automation strategy to drive scalable transformation and growth.


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