How Low-Code Facilitates End-to-End Process Automation
How Low-Code Facilitates End-to-End Process Automation by Abel Verweg
Automation is having a moment—that’s because digital transformation demands it. Despite COVID-19 wreaking workplace havoc, 37 percent of enterprises interviewed as part of Forrester’s 2020 report Navigating The Rapid App Delivery Market say accelerating digital business transformation is still the primary focus of their process improvement efforts. We get it. Those pesky paper processes and even electronic manual routing operations such as Excel and email are slow, expensive, and error-prone. They need to go.
But before you invest in workflow automation, hyperautomation, or intelligent automation, you may want to ask yourself, “Am I really addressing this process end to end?” Because, all of a sudden, the automation market is overcrowded with more than 100 angel-investor-backed start-ups and platform offerings from those huge corporate ships that turn slowly. They all want your business but have overlapping product offerings that are almost impossible to distinguish. Very few are equipped to offer end-to-end solutions, requiring you to build a patchwork of platforms to get from east to west.
Total digital transformation is way off in the distance for many enterprises. Forrester shows 77 percent of enterprises still rely, in some capacity, on paper processes and 63 percent on email and Excel-type programs. That’s a lot of market share to fight over. But while other automation solution vendors are duking it out for each narrow use case, let’s talk about Mendix’s end-to-end low-code application development platform, which is built for today’s—and tomorrow’s—automation requirements.
Governance made easy
It’s not uncommon for an enterprise today to rely on low-code for business developers, no-code for citizen developers, and the whole coding spectrum for IT professionals. In addition, many organizations have one CRM platform, a separate cloud computing platform, a project management tool for governing the software development life cycle—the list goes on and on. And those are just the IT-sanctioned solutions. There are also the budget-rate databases in Google sheets and other shadow IT “solves” running around and in between approved tech.
Try building a set of rules and recommendations across all these personas, platforms, and use cases that makes any practical sense on the ground. It’s not easy, but these are automation growing pains—there’s no real automation manifesto yet to which the modern enterprise IT leader can turn. That’s why low-code end-to-end automation is so important for governance.
We understand that different departments have different requirements and that a decentralized approach to IT purchases makes a lot of sense for some enterprises. But when you have a low-code platform like Mendix that allows for infinite customizations; workflow, component, and integration reuse; and UI and UX personalization—all without leaving the platform—things are much easier to govern. There are fewer variables, without making any sacrifices, and that makes all the difference.
When you have one LCAP connecting processes across your enterprise, you can optimize the experience and the UI for each specific user role because you don’t have to worry about how that change will affect the domino chain of processes before and after—they all play nicely together. You can democratize automation while ensuring the process guardrails stay true throughout the enterprise, and that means compliance requirements are always being met.
More platforms means more overhead
Automation is supposed to increase efficiency? Yes? OK, just making sure. Because when you add more platforms to the mix, you increase the time needed to learn these new platforms and the time before you benefit from these platforms’ incredible time-saving features! All kidding aside, this is not just a time-to-value or return-on-investment metric exercise—learning, updating, and maintaining more tools can seriously cut into their value as overhead grows.
Of the 156 business technology decision-makers interviewed by Forrester, 5 percent or less used one technology type to manage and automate business processes within their organization. The vast majority used a mix of digital process automation (DPA), low-code, robotic process automation (RPA), and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) options.
Automation—at the enterprise level, especially—is complex and fluid. You don’t just set up end-to-end automation and call it a day. Processes are always evolving, growing, and shrinking to accommodate changes to how a job needs to be done, the way a department is functioning, regulatory updates, and a thousand other things. Having many platforms limits your code reuse, promotes platform specialization, creates multiple systems of record, and increases the deployment time for feature releases.
Mendix Data Hub creates and makes accessible a single source of truth for all users throughout the enterprise. Developers and users can collaborate, too. Think about it this way: there’s an inverse relationship between collaboration opportunities and the number of automation platforms your enterprise uses. With a low-code platform like Mendix, you can imbue your solutions with flexibility at speed and scale, while reducing overhead and sharing data.
dream reality of end-to-end process automation
If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, it’s that making technology decisions is a lot of work. We would rather not have to make the same difficult decisions again and again into perpetuity, just because the technology changes. But that’s what happens when you apply a solution to a single problem instance repetitively until your automation portfolio looks more like a better business registry of platform providers.
Honeypot free trials, patchworks of non-centralized IT purchases, and shadow IT experiments—the longer they’re in use, the more indispensable they become. Trying to incorporate machine learning or artificial intelligence to orchestrate an adaptable, comprehensive workflow is infinitely harder when you are not using an end-to-end platform.
Process automation is too often seen as the goal, but process automation isn’t digital transformation. It’s a prerequisite to digital transformation—you need to automate to take the first step.
With Mendix’s end-to-end low-code application development platform, intelligent automation—with AI- and ML-embedded solutions—is just the beginning. IT and the business collaboratively building applications that iterate on automation will become the standard. Cross-channel applications and process improvements that leverage modern technologies are achievable within the same platform. Mendix is a holistic, all-in-one LCAP platform that will speed up your enterprise’s time-to-market. You’ll be able to deploy scalable cloud-native solutions that can integrate all types of core systems and data sources.
Automate with Mendix
The vendor market is complex. Products overlap, limiting use cases, scalability, and the opportunity to incorporate new technologies seamlessly. The end game is one that no one can win.
Mendix is an end-to-end low-code process automation solution that will support your organization as it evolves in the long term. As a low-code application platform, it’s infinitely customizable and promotes business-IT collaboration across the panorama of your enterprise, which is simply not possible in an a la carte development and automation environment.