There is a clear hype to discuss automation with a lot of acronyms such as RPA, Hyper Automation, Intelligent Automation, Low-code, No-code and many others in use and in the headlines around the world, because technical and business people feel in a comfort zone when they are talking about technology.
But behind automation it is most likely that there is a need for people with the right skills: people that are tech-savvy, analytical, and must like working with different technologies, while also having enough time to do so.
Subject matter expert must work side-by-side with organization managers, designing and redesigning processes for better business outcomes, not for the sake of digitalizing or automation (which are nice words indeed, but don't automatically generate business benefits).
There is a hard choice to be made - either citizen developers or software developers will be needed to create software and to use low-code in conjunction with full-code. At PROCESIO, we have our own hypothesis and this article is our argument in favour of our choice.
Discussions about automation are on the rise! Automation and low/no-code are also generally in the same sentence.
RPA, Hyper Automation, Intelligent Automation, Low-code, No-code (and many others) are on the headlines around the world, but rarely anyone talks about the heroes of the story: the people that use those technologies to drive forward the Digital Transformation efforts of companies worldwide.
Rarely someone talks about those people for multiple reasons. First of all, it is easier for any tech person or even for a business person to talk about the technology, how easy it is to use it, how it can address business needs and drive business outcomes! Also, it sells better if the technology is so easy to use that anyone from the client's company will be able to use it. Nothing wrong here ... or is it?
Is it a marketing stunt that everyone bought into, thinking that low-code and no-code are so easy to use that anyone can become a Citizen Developer? Or, is this true?
Further on, I am going to touch on several points in this article, trying to shed some light on the topic:
- What is required to use automation technology
- What is required for automation to be successful
- What is needed to change in the automation "pitch"
So, let's dive in!
What is required to use automation technology?
Building automation is manual work and needs to be done by someone, by the people behind automation! You need people using technology (one or many tools working together) to build digital processes that automate small or large parts of business processes.
Creating a digital process requires a deep understanding of how digital processes work and knowledge of successful patterns that if applied correctly you will have resilient implementations that are not error-prone.
Creating digital processes also requires tools that need to be understood by the people using them. Some tools are great at some jobs and not so good at others. In the same way you need multiple tools to build a house, you need multiple tools to build digital processes.
You need to understand what tool is best to use for each task and you need to know how to best combine tools to get the job done.
In other words, most likely you would need to be a tech-savvy, analytical person, that also likes tampering with different technologies (and having enough time to do so).
If this does not describe you, then, for sure you should be able to use low/no-code technologies to create digital processes up to a certain point, but it is not certain if the effort or the outcomes will be what you wanted. Also, it might be possible that you chose the inappropriate tool for the job or the right tool for the wrong job ... in general, you will find out at the end of the project :)
What is required for automation to be successful?
Automation is intended to use machines to execute a process or a task that exists for a purpose and generally, that is to create some sort of value for someone, or better said, to create business outcomes (directly or indirectly). If it doesn't do that, the process or task shouldn't have existed in the first place, hence it is pointless to automate it.
So, automation is always related to a business process or task which in turn is related to outcomes. To successfully automate something you need to understand this correlation and all its nuances, possible alterations and effects. You need to understand why the process exists in its current form and be able to optimize it to enhance the desired outcome.
Only then you would be able to automate a process or a task and only then it will be successful.
In other words, you need to be a subject matter expert or have one working side-by-side with you, designing and redesigning processes for better business outcomes.
For sure, instead of bringing in "the expert" on the topic and redesign the process for business outcome effectiveness, many would underestimate the task, think that they can do it themselves and, for sure, the automated process would become an exact copy of the manual process and in time would break.
There seems to be a gap between what the expression "citizen developer" promises to the world and what is required to successfully create software and automation in general. The term "citizen" suggests the fact that anyone without prior specific industry, business, or technical/IT knowledge would and should be able to use low/no-code tools to build software. For sure, this might be true for smaller software, non-enterprise and probably B2C focused. This cannot be true for B2B software nor can it be true for enterprise software.
What is needed to change in the automation "pitch"?
Looking at statistics, most of the money made by low/no-code companies is made from other companies (not from individuals/citizens), so from B2B business.
Also, looking at the RPA industry, most implementations are made by RPA services companies that have specialized people for using different technologies and people that have industry-specific knowledge. On the other hand, companies that implement automation themselves are rarely successful at doing that, especially at scale.
Automation cannot be done by anyone for the reasons mentioned above (and other reasons as well). Technology is not yet that simple to use and understand by any "citizen". Sure, low/no-code simplifies the creation of software and automation, but still, does not yet remove the need for experts in the B2B and enterprise space.
The "citizen developer" concept is an aspirational one. It is a state of simplicity that every low/no-code technology vendor strives to obtain (including us, at PROCESIO). The reality is that there is still a long way to go.
So what needs to change?
Things need to be said as they are. Low/no-code indeed lowers the entry bar a lot. It allows more people to use technology to create software and automation and allows more and easier, frictionless cooperation between the technical and non-technical (but with industry-specific knowledge) people. It allows people to create things they were not able to create before and to do that faster than their software developer colleagues.
But, it cannot be used by anyone. It cannot be used by "citizen developers" as if they would, the business outcomes would suffer rather than improve.
Also, software developers are and will forever be needed to create software and to use the low-code part of the tools in conjunction with full-code.
At PROCESIO we have created an environment where software developers, technical non-developers, configurators, technical and business analysts can work together to deliver business outcomes faster by building scalable digital processes faster.
As a low/no-code iPaaS, PROCESIO is an awesome tool for integrating systems, automating & orchestrating processes and processing data. It is ideal for tech-savvy people, RPA developers, and for companies building automation for themselves or their clients.
If you've read so far, then for sure it will be of interest to you to use PROCESIO or to become our implementation partner.
No-code low-code iPaaS like PROCESIO can help companies and organizations keep up with fast-changing market demands by enabling collaboration between non-technical experts and IT, in a secure and scalable environment.
Would you like to learn more about how you can empower your business and technical teams to build custom software and workflows up to 5x faster than by writing code? Open a free account or book a Demo with us and start building today!