Global Trends That Influence Business Automation
Today, business takes place online and on mobile all around the globe, 24/7. Automating everyday business processes and workflows has become hugely important in 2018 as many companies realize that manual processes may not cut it in a world where they must act with unprecedented speed to meet customer needs, improve and innovate continuously to compete and analyze critical information.
I'm lucky to have really engaged customers and partners. As I've worked closely with them over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about their initiatives and priorities. Through our customers and our years of experience, I’ve identified some global trends that I believe will influence business automation in the years to come.
The Top 5 Trends For 2018 And Beyond
1. Millennials will continue to enter the workforce.
Your employees and customers are increasingly people who grew up with technology. They’re used to slick apps with responsive performance and a fantastic user experience. They expect very little difference between the technology they use every day for social media and the technology they use at work. Businesses that want to win the talent wars have to provide infrastructure and UX that this generation will be comfortable using.
I expect our customers to increasingly demand these first-class, high-performance user experiences even for routine, day-to-day workflow automation. Platforms mired in old-fashioned UIs will be at a severe disadvantage.
2. Low-code solutions will deliver apps in days.
Solutions that take IT months to deliver even using agile processes simply cannot keep up with the speed and agility demands of the modern enterprise. As a result, companies are increasingly turning to so-called low-code solutions. These simpler tools allow “citizen developers” who aren't coders-by-trade to set up basic workflow routing, drag and drop fields into e-forms and in some cases do some limited integration using visual wizards.
I believe this trend will only accelerate. There simply aren’t enough people with the necessary skills so technology must compensate. Visual, low-code workflow automation platforms are already here and I expect them to gain acceptance. With IT underwater, these solutions will spread app development out among more people and deliver workflow apps that are deployed and updated at an unprecedented speed.
3. Data is the new oil
For any organization, your proprietary data is your single most valuable asset. With workflow automation, the organization can collect that data, analyze and refine it into useful, actionable information and take the necessary action. It’s one of the most crucial advantages in today’s business environment.
As more organizations automate their routine workflows, they’ll start demanding the ability to understand and analyze their operations. They’ll want to predict trends, minimize issues and maximize opportunities that are identified using historical and real-time data generated by the workflow system. They’ll demand platforms that are agile enough to enable the business to respond quickly.
4. Mobility will enable remote workers.
Organizations that enable mobility have a huge advantage. If your employees can work anywhere, you can use the most talented workers irrespective of their location. If these workers can take advantage of technology from video conferencing to approvals to collaborate in real-time, you’ll see massive productivity improvements. The problem is that mobility is hard -- even the simplest mobile apps take months to deliver, cost $500,000 or more and require hard-to-find IT skills.
As a result, I expect that organizations will favor solutions with built-in mobility for their automated, day-to-day workflows. It will no longer be acceptable to delay an approval because a manager is traveling or remote. Instantaneous, real-time collaboration without hugely expensive mobile apps is the order of the day.
5. Cloud will grow and IT will shrink
Companies and providers have learned a lot about deploying Cloud-based systems. The fact is Cloud providers have years of experience scaling their systems and keeping them secure. The vast majority are far more secure than their data center counterparts. It’s also getting easier to integrate as vendors like Microsoft’s Azure AD open up their systems to third-party applications.
I expect the trend toward cloud-based solutions to continue and accelerate as organizations of all sizes see the resulting financial and productivity benefits. As a result, the role, size and budgets of IT departments will diminish. It’s also an inevitable consequence of the skills gap in IT.
We’ve already started seeing the impact of these trends in 2017, and I expect them to accelerate in the year to come.