Businesses are always in search of more profitable and competitive ways to operate. Mike Beckley, CTO and Co-Founder of Appian, says, “The more companies use robotic process automation (RPA) to automate tasks, the more they realize they need to reimagine business processes and automate workflows to combine different tasks.”
He says that full-stack automation, including combining RPA with low-code workflows, enables multi-step activities. It also allows businesses to leverage external data and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms via APIs and become more resilient to change by keeping humans in charge of automation and exception handling.
Beckley points out that in 2020, COVID-19 forced companies to reevaluate their priorities and move agile business processes to the top of their agendas, along with a continued focus on migrating to the cloud.
Where’s the demand for full-stack automation?
Financial services, government, and healthcare are driving the most demand for full-stack automation, Beckley says, “But we’re seeing interest in every sector. You can’t sign documents in person when offices are closed due to COVID-19, so the need for intelligent document processing is obvious if you are applying for a loan, bidding a government contract, or signing up doctors for vaccine trials.”
He comments that in nearly all cases, RPA isn’t enough. “Building agile business processes requires a unified approach to workflow, AI, and RPA. People who start out automating a task or building a new low-code app, quickly realize they actually need business process management to run their new digital business.”
He says that low-code automation enables businesses and IT to collaborate on a shared model of the process.“Instead of wasting weeks or months writing requirements documents nobody uses and never accurately match user expectations, low-code lets business analysts design and prototype process flows, interfaces, and business rules with the same tools software developers use to configure, test, and deploy automations and applications in agile sprints.”
A common challenge with full-stack automation
Software developers will most likely find that the biggest challenge is getting the business they’re working with to realize that automation isn’t about focusing on one tool or performing one manual task. “It is the opportunity to reimagine the entire business process. Once you start thinking process instead of task, you start making connections between teams and that can magnify the business’ impact exponentially.”
Beckley says developers need to form partnerships with business owners interested in making positive change. Adopting low-code automation enables IT to take the initiative and deliver rapid, quantifiable business results.
The outlook for 2021
Beckley says automation will continue to be a focus in 2021. “However, automation alone is not enough, and full-stack automation will be seen as necessary to compete within the digital landscape.”
“There will be increased adoption of robotic process automation followed by workflow and artificial intelligence tools to rapidly and efficiently automate business processes. He adds, “There will never be enough software engineers and data scientists to meet the demand, so companies are turning to low-code automation platforms to fill in the gap.”