I just finished reading Hyperautomation. Hyperautimation is a collection of expert essays on low-code development and the future of business process automation. In each chapter, an academic, analyst, implementer, or end-user examines different aspects of low-code and automation in the enterprise, clarifying both value and barriers through personal experiences and insights (this is their own blurb).
It is not bad. The themes are augmentation, COVID, the enterprise software revolution, hyper-automation, AI, shortage of staff, centres of excellence, balance, digital masters, people as the success factors, IT is too slow, the role of the CIO, acceleration, ERP systems not delivering, versatility, the CIO as a low-code advocate, the importance of pilots, LCNC users are faster to respond, low-code becoming strategic, innovation as the key factor, the frameworks, CDO vs CIO, speed, jumping legacy systems, simplicity, automation and EQ, application services portfolio mapping, scarcity and platforms.
Case studies and sectors
It features two case studies, one excellent case study from a university in the USA, another about the NHS. It covers two sectors, banking and insurance.
I am not an expert, but it strikes me as a little too technical. It makes a compelling case for citizen development, but stays very close to the “technical” aspects an and does not cover the transformative elements of low code/no code. The impact on the citizen developer, enabling the change-makers, the excitement of that enablement, what it will do to an organisation in the long term, the future of citizen development, the ethics, the creativity, the intrapreneurship, the innovation, the endless possibilities.
Judge for yourself
It is CIO-centric. I think it lacks the inspiration and aspiration for something that is bigger than just technology. You can judge for yourself:
Chapter 1 From Big Boxes to Intelligence Everywhere: The Changing Face of Automation
Probably the best chapter of the book. The history of business automation goes back a lot further than you might think. In 1785, American inventor Oliver Evans built an automated, water-powered flour mill near Newport, Delaware. It was only with the emergence of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) as a business discipline, in the late 1980s, that IT systems were built and operated to integrate automated business functions at scale: from HR to finance and accounting, production planning, and so on.
The story of how businesses introduced automation was one of centralised design and development, high cost, concentrated use of specialised talent, and long gestation periods (with their attendant risks). The resulting systems operated at scale by necessity and could typically only be changed at significant cost and risk.
In the early 1990s, an explosion of inventions in networking technologies, server and PC platforms created a huge wave of opportunity to make computing more accessible to a wider range of businesses. This explosion, however, also created a massive wave of complexity for any team wanting to build business software.
Point and click
For the first time, software vendors offered development tools that took advantage of new GUI environments and point-and-click techniques. The result was an explosion of tools that relatively non-technical staff could use to create relatively simple business applications. Then came RAP and Web-based applications, and the point and click tools were forgotten for a while.
Beyond customer experience
And now they are back. Driven by hyper-scale public cloud platform providers have created an abundance of scalable computing, storage and network capacity for rent, driven by an understanding that digitising the customer experience is only the beginning. Delivering excellence in modern customer experiences relies on the consistent, fast, transparent and agile execution of a whole chain of business tasks and processes. Addressing these digitisation requirements across a complex, often siloed, business operations landscape is challenging, and hard to tackle with “big IT” projects, which are just too slow, too expensive, and too rigid in their approaches.
Combine that with AI, and you are starting to see new kind of collaboration between human workers and automated systems—enabling automated systems to adapt to the ways that humans want to work, rather than the other way around. Chatbots, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), voice recognition, translation algorithms, and now real-time predictions and recommendations. Predictive maintenance, predicting churn, contextual marketing. etc. Read https://www.ronimmink.com/nano-marketing-fully-contextual-and-in-the-moment/
That is a lot of technology to deal with. Organisations have serious challenges when it comes to hiring and retaining people with in-demand technology skills. The availability of skills has always lagged the availability of transformational technology. Consequently, more and more organisations—particularly those in industries that cannot easily compete for expensive, rare, digital development talent—are turning to new “low-code” automation tools and approaches to bring back many of the same capabilities and techniques first seen in the RAD tools of the 1990s.
Low code/no code
Using low-code tools to design and deliver business automation projects can speed up capability development dramatically. This matters because business automation projects are not purely technical projects: they are business change projects that affect how people work. When it comes to business change projects, involving the people whose work will be changed early and often is a critical success factor. Even AI tools are adopting the low-code philosophy.
Enablement and governance
The advantages of low-code tools—both in terms of raw speed and supporting iterative work within cross-functional, multidisciplinary teams that can understand and influence business change—makes them a perfect fit for any organisation seriously pursuing a digital agenda. However, the most important enabler of all comes down to answering one vital question: how can you best set your organisation up so that many individual teams can address their own opportunities and challenges with their own projects. In other words: how do you best balance between enabling freedom and flexibility on one hand, and maintaining control and governance on the other?
Centres of excellence
Leading organisations typically create this balance of participation and control through a Center of Excellence (CoE)
- Provide best-practice guidance and/or training to individual projects
- Provide implementation and administration services to project teams
- Manage centralised platform licensing and upgrade management
- Harvest Intellectual Property (IP) from successful projects
- Review and approve applications prior to “go-live” to ensure that relevant standards and good practices have been followed.
Whatever you do. Look beyond technology and focus on the balance of flexibility and control.
Chapter 2 How to Turn Your Company into a Master of Digital Transformation
Digital transformation isn’t really a technology challenge. The best companies, which are called “Digital Masters,” do two things better than everyone else.
- They are better at putting digital technology into customer experience, operations and business models.
- They are better at envisioning and driving organisational transformation over and over again.
People as the success factor
The human side of the equation—the organisational and cultural aspects—are critical success factors in the digital transformation journey. In fast-moving, born-digital organisations, people are a source of continual innovation. This should be the case in every company, but it’s not. In a world of Moore’s Law, technology changes quicker than an organisation. There are three levers:
- Create a strong vision
- Engage employees
- Implement governance, where governance does not need to be a dirty word
Your IT is too slow
Digital is fast, but your IT department is slow. Digital Masters found ways for IT and business to collaborate on digital. Much of an organisation’s legacy knowledge and processes reside in IT. If you exclude IT from the process, you end up trying to compete with startups without using the full power and know-how of your entire organisation.
The role of the CIO
IT people have to become the types of people that business leaders want in the room. If your company leaders think the CIO is the “CI-No,” then you need to make changes. CIOs need to turn IT from order taker to strategic partner. CIOs can lead digital transformation, but often another leader does. You might want to question that.
Start with why
E-commerce is not about the internet. It’s about selling differently. In the same way, analytics is not about databases and algorithms; it’s about understanding customers better, optimising maintenance processes, or helping doctors diagnose cancer more accurately. And The Internet of Things is not just about identifying objects with RFID tags; it’s about radically synchronising operations or changing business models.
To become digital enough you need to
- Become more Agile—more experimental and self-organising the way that digital companies do. In other words, do Agile.
- Keep the practices that foster integrity and employee stability.
- Rethink what it means to manage numbers and customer needs. The best companies are tracking customer interaction data every minute, every day, not every quarter.
It’s like 1999 all over again. In retrospect, the run-up to Y2K was a catalyst for change, and the internet was an exciting way to rethink how we did business. We’re more able to innovate today because cloud, containers, mobile, sensors, machine learning, and other technologies are becoming ubiquitous, interoperable, and increasingly capable. Along with that, innovations in software development, such as Agile, DevOps, and low-code, are helping organisations be faster and more innovative in applying technology to make transformation happen.
Looking ahead, if you’re trying to anticipate what to expect over the next five to 10 years consider Moore´s law as the exponential accelerator. Which means that every organisation will need to get much better at being Agile, being innovative, and leveraging existing assets for new opportunities. Ongoing transformation will become a skill set. For every company, becoming a Digital Master is an existential challenge. The most important capability for any organisation to invest in right now is the ability to innovate quickly. In the age of digital transformation, this should be a core part of every company’s culture. That is what Erik and Erik from TechRebels say.
Chapter 3 Survival of the Quickest: How to Hack a Pandemic with Intelligent Automation
A major roadblock to scaling automation is the misconception that aggressive, holistic automation will result in widespread job loss. This dystopian view fails to imagine the new types of jobs that will come from automation liberating employees from routine work that can be done faster, better, and less expensively by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Do you have the Robotic Process Automation, Business Process Management, AI, and analytics capabilities that you will need to quickly adapt to face the massive volatility and uncertainty of the global COVID recession? COVID will continue to expose weak spots in the vintage technology that many organisations are running on. And not only the technology weak spots.
Start with your staff
You need to start with the capabilities of your staff. At Tata Consultancy Service they give staff right of first refusal to any technology that augments their capabilities. They also adopted a Machine First mindset that redefines the traditional approach to enterprise automation. With the astonishing evolution of AI, automation is no longer just an interloper. It has become an integral part of our lives. When you tune into Netflix, if you don’t like it, if it doesn’t meet your expectations, you’ll just switch to another service. Future generations of digital consumers will be even more demanding than that.
Tata was able to embrace low code/no code because of the strong foundation of intelligent automation and Agile methodology they already had in place. Low-code offers unsurpassed efficiency in building applications. But beyond that, it also takes the complexity out of combining technologies, orchestrating processes and optimising human-machine interactions.
It gives you the capability to quickly develop applications that connect and automate across the platform, apply it actively to automate all processes that can be automated. Because constant automation is the flywheel that needs to get spinning to recover the business.
- Federated organisations struggle to scale automation.
- Individual units are driven by different priorities
- Automation in the enterprise tends to happen in silos, where it’s mostly driven by efficiency.
How do you fix the disconnect? You do it by starting with a platform for growth, a low-code platform that allows you to quickly combine and orchestrate different technologies.
Chapter 4 From Hurricanes to COVID-19 and Beyond: How Low-Code Helps our University
Is a compelling case study of how the University of South Florida applied low-code technology and how it helped to respond to the hurricanes and COVID. Here are the benefits:
- They were able to move that fast because, as established low-code developers, we already had building blocks in place.
- Low-code systems provide agility, flexibility and communication pathways to centralise accurate information.
- They to strike a fine balance: leveraging state-of-the-art platform as a Service (PaaS) technology.
- When you are a CIO, the first thing you think about is the protection of data. That’s why a platform approach is critical.
- Digital transformation—whether in an enterprise setting or on a university campus—is hard work.
- Their needs are now being met in literally weeks or months with an agile, enterprise-grade, scalable low-code app development platform.
- Instead of spending $10 million to $20 million for massive overhauls of existing student-information-systems, USF only spends in the thousands of dollars to get time-critical upgrades and new app development pushed through for our clients.
- They can now code at the speed of the clients or sometimes faster because they have a low-code platform m that can do what ERPs are unable to do.
- It creates solutions at the speed of the client.
- It creates enterprise-grade solutions for large-scale implementations better than ERPs.
- By adopting low-code, they can gain more access to—and more functionality from—core legacy systems. And this at a fraction of the costs of a significant overhaul or systemic upgrade to the standing ERP.
- Low-code deployment and integration have allowed to strip down cumbersome, dysfunctional modifications from the ERP system and make what you might call “micro-investments.”
- What low-code allows you to do very well—as opposed to traditional programming and specifically large-scale modification of the ERP—is to transform tactically, swiftly, and at low relative cost.
- They are not just changing technology—they are changing the culture of expectation of how quickly you can do something differently, and how rapid-coding applications built on low-code platforms can service the way people work.
- In today’s market, with traditional developer skills both costly and scarce, we’ve been able to develop a growing, capable resource from within.
- With the overall cost-savings gained from low-code deployment, they are able to remain competitive with the private sector when it comes to salaries for hiring into specific, highly-sought-after roles, such as enterprise architects, cloud architects, and other enablers.
- They lost half of our IT team when they introduced low-code. They didn’t get it. They didn’t understand that it wasn’t necessary to touch every widget.
- Low-code can be an amazing connector—an orchestrator of so many workflows and processes within an organisation via APIs.
When they started
They had 16 programmers and about 150 built-from-scratch, custom-code apps and tons of technical debt that they were never going to get to. They had a backlog of some 100-odd projects that our clients were still waiting on. And there was no capacity for new development. Our clients didn’t want us to waste their investments on fixing the old stuff. So, the old apps just kept getting worse and worse.
That’s when they learned about the emergence of low-code technology. How it could provide them with tools to handle the baseline low-hanging-fruit applications (basic forms and more forms), For example, if you’re building a log-in screen, it’s the same log-in screen for every portal and app you’ve built. Why should you have to rebuild it again and again; why should you have to maintain the code for each use case and go into each individual application and update
Ideally, these reusable pieces would be like Lego parts that they could take apart and rebuild at very rapid speed to create an optimal 21st Century teaching and learning environment. They found this capability in an enterprise-grade, low-code development platform that’s quickly able to deliver innovative applications which eliminate waste, improve performance and enhance the end-user digital experience for students.
The CIO role is rapidly evolving. The expectations of the CIO are quickly changing from merely being a respected go-to person for identifying and deploying hardware and software solutions to being a trusted partner of the business unit when it comes to developing solutions in near real-time. In other words, the modern CIO is expected to be a broker of technology solutions—increasingly mobile-first applications—across the organisation. The CIO should put in place certain key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics to ensure all IT projects are aligned to business goals.
Looking ahead, though, they expect low-code to start going viral soon. This will happen as more and more people realise they have to think beyond the ERP and custom applications to create solutions. They believe the push will come from the business side, and IT will have to react for governance and security reasons.
People are finally starting to realise that ERPs have never been able to deliver on the demands being placed on them. Indeed, they will question sending tons of developers to do things that yield zero value to the client. You don’t want to pay millions in debt before you do necessary upgrades.
The truth is, there is little time to waste. In the end, though, you need a combination of technology, partnership and realistic expectations to make it all work.
Chapter 5 FinTech and the Forces of Change in Financial Services
A chapter about Fintech, which I would suspect, is an important sector for Appian.
Stripe as the low code example of Fintech. That is how fundamental this is. Kids who can code are dramatically changing the financial markets, but they don’t understand the financial markets. They don’t understand why banks are regulated the way they are. They don’t understand how banks got to where they are. Comparing Stripe and Barclays Bank, you can see that the average Stripe employee generated a hundred times more value, by market capitalisation than a Barclays employee.
There are seven new ways in which finance delivered by technology is changing the game:
- All the time and everywhere
- Predictive: His favourite example of this today is the bank that figures out that you catch the underground every day rather than buy a season ticket. In this instance, the bank texts, “Hey X, you could save £1,000 a quarter with a season ticket for £2,500. Swipe here if you want one.”
- For everyone
- Reaches the unreachable
Chapter 6 A Business-minded CIO’s Perspective: Why Low-Code is Indispensable for Transformation
Doubling productivity is an understatement in case of low code. Consider the amount of expertise and time required to architect, develop, test, and deploy applications. In a low-code platform, the platform provides tools and infrastructure to enable developers to create and enhance applications rapidly. Both low-code and no-code platforms offer significant operational advantages by providing technical guardrails and enabling more secure applications that deploy with minimal infrastructure configuration.
Digital is core
CIOs are not just running the business and data centres anymore. Digitally-minded CIOs need to lead their organisation away from legacy practices, address technical debt, develop applications, and establish data and analytics as a core competency instead. CIOs also need a different game plan for building and supporting this charter and delivering business impact. Most organisations don’t have the skills, breadth of tools, and maturity in software development processes to measure up.
Just putting up a collection of unintegrated SaaS tools or enabling virtual meetings isn’t sufficient to enable businesses to survive and thrive over the next few volatile years. If you’re the CIO or an IT leader, then you must act urgently. Otherwise, somebody in your industry is going to find ways to move smarter and faster and leave your team in the dust.
Most CIOs struggle with a high demand for people and platforms to respond. Business leaders struggle with aligning priorities, leaving CIOs in a difficult position. Enterprises need to be a lot more versatile with the tools they’re using to improve customer and employee experiences, integrate systems, process data, or deliver analytics on mobile and other emerging devices. In the old days, it came down to either building everything ourselves or buying an enterprise solution and customising it beyond recognition. Now you low-code. Using your highly-skilled architects and developers to figure out the right platforms to solve pressing business needs, and low-code platforms as options to accelerate delivery and enable ongoing enhancements.
Low code advocate
The CIO’s becomes a low-code advocate. Having a low-code platform in the toolkit is not sufficient. The CIO must also be a strong advocate when it comes to endorsing the low-code platform as a foundation for application initiatives. In other words, the CIO should develop a vision of the “art of the possible,” showcasing what experiences are required and how the low-code platform enables the productivity and quality to deliver
The CIO should define where the platform enables self-service capabilities or citizen development, and the types of applications best developed by IT using low-code technologies. These are all aspects of governing the development and support of low code platforms. IT responsibilities don’t disappear in the mix. For CIOs who fear the sprawl of spreadsheets, SaaS platforms procured by shadow IT, or a messy landscape of siloed applications, perhaps the best solution is to extend governance, best practices, and centres of excellence to initiatives leveraging low-code and no-code platforms.
Many CIOs are aware of the benefits of low-code. Build applications faster and develop lighter-weight ones. With some structure, some guidelines, some mentoring and the right selection of tools, stakeholders in underserved areas are able to develop technologies by themselves.
Everything is connected
Eight key questions for evaluating a low-code platform
- For what types of applications does the platform enable rapid development?
- Does the technology enable a satisfactory user-experience?
- How much of the application can be developed with the platform’s visual productivity tools compared to customising much of the experience, business logic or integration with native code?
- Does the platform already connect with the integration tools your IT department utilises?
- Does the developer experience truly improve productivity?
- Can the platform’s hosting options and compliance standards meet your organisation’s regulatory, compliance, and security requirements?
- How can the platform’s development process and application lifecycle meet the minimal requirements needed to support ongoing enhancements to production applications?
- Does the platform’s cost model work well for the applications you intend to develop?
When it comes to more sophisticated applications, learning to develop on low-code technologies means that you can address a business need that can’t be addressed affordably through traditional approaches to development. However, business developers still need guidance on best practices in user-interface design, data architecture, naming conventions, testing, and other design considerations.
Evaluating the longer-term impacts of low-code
- How easy is it to find the talent that can learn and succeed with the platform?
- Can the organisation easily enhance and support the applications, integrations?
- Will ongoing investment in the platform help teams develop reusable capabilities and best practices?
- Does the application’s performance meet business needs when there’s growth in usage?
- Is it reasonably easy to knowledge-transfer an application’s support, based on its experience, structure, and documentation?
- Do you have to migrate the application in the future, how easy will it be, and what are the best migration options?
Dip your toe
Don’t make the mistake of trying to get answers to these questions without dipping your toes into the water and trying to take an application from proof of concept to pilot. Ultimately, low-code and no-code platforms should make developing and supporting technology easier.
Chapter 7 Low-Code Journey in the Enterprise
Remote work broke business processes. Adding time, space, and familial distractions to formerly face-to-face decision-making routines caused process delays that customers experienced as lack of service. Those carefully crafted 2020 IT plans, and budgets were instantly obsolete. First, firms needed new automated processes to get up and running again. Second, firms in all sectors needed brand new tracking and tracing applications.
Lesson #1: Enterprises can no longer function without automated business processes.
Lesson #2: Automation must be adaptable with speed and ease.
Enterprises have sunk trillions of dollars into automation, but only a portion of that software investment was adaptable during the pandemic. During the early, crisis phase of the pandemic, low-code (and digital-process) platforms stood out as fast and adaptable.
Much quicker to respond
Firms that already had low-code platforms were able to respond far more effectively than those that didn’t. Low-code platforms provided surprising additional benefits. First, firms with low-code platforms found it easy to expand their licenses to add users and processing capacity. Second, low-code vendors quickly released mostly free applications and accelerators for problems like tracing and employee health monitoring. That’s right, vendors of platforms for custom development quickly delivered packaged apps (easily tailorable) and accelerators to customers. Why? Their platforms, through low-code development, allowed these vendors to deliver for customers faster than customers could serve themselves.
From tactical to strategic
“A fool with a tool is still a fool,” goes the saying. Many software leaders approach low-code strategies as solely a product-selection exercise. Low-code started with tactical apps, but now it is largely strategic. In dozens of examples, developers are pushing the capabilities of low-code platforms and their own skills into mission-critical territory.
The author believes the COVID-19 crisis will be the second “market moment” for low-code development platforms. The first market moment for low-code platforms sparked the initial wave of enterprise adoption. Coming out of the Great Recession (2008-2011), companies saw new growth opportunities only accessible through new mobile apps and other digital customer experiences.
Here are five reasons why most enterprise application teams adopt low-code
- Their primary goal is to deliver business applications more quickly. The declarative development tools and automation of deployment and scaling provided by low-code platforms can slash app-delivery times by as much as 10x. The biggest advances in delivery speed come from teams that apply Agile methods to their low-code projects.
- They want to use low-code platforms for applications that link independent services, often called “composite applications.”
- They want to visually configure the low-code platform’s features rather than writing (and updating) configuration files and scripts. The result can be better application reliability and security compared to apps built with traditional coding.
- Many traditional developers at first resist low-code platforms. But many eventually embrace the technology as a way to work better for their businesses.
- Development teams that adopt low-code platforms almost always start with modest-sized projects that help automate customer operations and then expand into more and more challenging and mission-critical applications. In Forrester’s latest available worldwide developer survey, almost 20% of developers reported using low-code platforms to build “core business applications (e.g. ERP).”
The elements of an enterprise low-code strategy
Strategy Element 1: Governance Policies and Implementation
Low-code development governance must balance two competing interests: creativity and control. Start with restrictive policies but relax some or all of your constraints on low-code development as your people learn. Traditional software development lifecycles (SDLCs) will be ineffective for governing low-code development.
The five essential policies for low-code governance are:
- Who builds apps on the low-code platform?
- How are apps built on the low-code platform? What development and delivery process will your organisation apply to the low-code platform (s)
- Which apps do we build on the low-code platform? A crucial question when starting a low-code journey: Which application use cases will we build on the new platform?
- When do we build apps on the low-code platform? The “when” refers to the priority of application projects. “When” also applies to the priority of updates, improvements, and changes to applications. In a modern software delivery process, change management is more active than traditional maintenance.
- Where in the organisation are the apps built? Which departments and teams in the enterprise will own development on the low-code platform?
Strategy Element 2: Organisational Structures and the “Citizen Developer” Opportunity
When a department other than IT owns the enterprise’s low-code platform, it is almost always in partnership with IT. Most enterprises are only slowly introducing organisational structures that break central IT’s monopoly on software delivery. Low-code platforms hasten this change.
Agile development practices pioneered by coders introduced a small but profound variation to this organisational structure by including business people on software teams. This organisational innovation is far easier to implement than other new organisational structures enabled by low-code. These include distributing developers into business units with only dotted-line relationships to central IT and empowering businesspeople either to deliver applications entirely on their own or with the help of IT professionals.
Yet, the future is surely some version of central IT providing support to distributed pro- and citizen developers.
- Allow citizen developers to self-serve on managed platforms. And users build and deploy all apps on managed platforms, opening opportunities for IT organisations to influence, support, and even control the efforts of citizen developers.
- Allow IT platform groups to delegate software work to distributed and citizen developers.
Strategy Element 3: Enterprise Application Architectures
The four key elements of enterprise architecture for low-code development are:
- Data architecture.
- Modular service designs.
- Built-in security.
- Layers to preserve flexibility across a big app portfolio. For example, your core data models should provide reliable foundations for many apps, but some apps will enrich and add data in their own specific add-ons. Your integration volumes and control requirements may be best solved by a separate architectural layer devoted to integration.
Strategy Element 4: A low-Code Platform that can Meet Enterprise Needs
In the study, 84% of respondents in large enterprises had already adopted low-code platforms. Of that total, about 70% were using low-code platforms to deliver their “highest value applications.” Clearly, of the approximately 100 vendors providing low-code platforms, some are capable of addressing the full spectrum of enterprise needs from tactical to strategic.
Look for platforms that provide:
- Development features and tools for the most common database/transactional and process automation use cases available via Web and mobile interfaces. But go further as well: Look for sophisticated forms, page navigation, and progressive Web apps, as well as deep features in case and content management, native mobile experiences, natural language processing, event management, and access to machine learning services.
- Features to organise and automate development processes, including collaboration tools.
- Tools to design and analyse application architectures for scalability, security, manageability, and updates.
- Development experiences designed to empower citizen developers
- Operational-management features to help enterprises ensure they can meet their uptime goals.
- Evidence (reference accounts) that the vendor’s platform can support expected user and/or transaction loads.
- Commitment by the vendor (backed by a track record) to implement support for the latest operating system and browser technologies as they emerge.
Chapter 8 People Power: The X-Factor of Digital Transformation
The Chief Digital Officer (CDO) exists to drive the transformation roadmap for an organisation. But they also have a second side to their responsibility, which is to drive standards, consistency, and optimisation across the organisation. But customer expectations are what really drive business transformation.
In 2017, Microsoft did a study in which over 60% of workers surveyed said they were anxious about the introduction of new technologies. And 49% said they feared the introduction of digital transformation initiatives. On the other side, KPMG has a program of “digital ninjas.” Basically, these are people who are passionate about digital transformation.
LC/NC speeds up transformation
It’s not about having a two- or three-year transformation program that cost hundreds of millions of pounds. We now have a mixture of cloud and low-code platforms that gives us the ability to make change happen for the business quickly and consistently.
The biggest challenge, though, is removing the silos that prevent an end-to-end view of the customer. The myth persists that innovation is about smart people going off and creating something in isolation. But an innovation mindset is the opposite of that. It’s about driving creativity across the entire organisation, testing it and, where appropriate quickly bringing it to market. Critically, in the early stages, this means bringing together people from across your organisation to flesh out ideas and determine whether they are feasible.
This chapter talks about the role of a CDO. A Chief Digital Officer. Not every CIO has a seat at the top table. And not all CIOs have the influence to drive change across the organisation outside of IT, which is why many organisations are creating the position of Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Five years ago, CIO’s were very wary of the CDO role and worried it would replace them. But that’s not the case. The CIO role is actually critical because they, like the CEO, are one of the few people who truly have an enterprise-wide view of the organisation. The CIO will become part of a critical technology network rather than just own technology across an organisation, working together with the CDO.
Chapter 9 Speed is the key in pandemic response
A NHS case study. The challenge was to quickly implement new national guidance and procedures to ensure compliance within the National Health Service (NHS) across the primary care and local health & social care system. But the problem was compounded by disconnected legacy systems and manual paper-based processes.
With the help of low-code automation, they were able to quickly streamline compliance with the NHS’s COVID-19. They quickly mobilised to respond to the COVID surge. As emergency measures were put into place, they turned to low-code automation to quickly develop an application to track back-office staff and improve our ability to do health checks with staff and see who was available to work. Critically, our low-code applications helped to manage the phased redeployment of people and services to their primary care sites as the crisis escalated. They were able to do that in real-time with our low-code platform.
In the age of COVID, we are confronted with the fierce urgency of change. In this unfolding conundrum of massive disruption, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous transformation.
Chapter 10 Digital Innovation is More than a Side Hustle
An insure tech perspective. Low-code automation is key to unlocking greater potential from all three and reducing risk in addressing the flaws of insurance.
The “three A’s” that will shape the future of competition in the industry: algorithms, agility and automation.
- Algorithms, first and foremost, are how companies are going to outcompete each other.
- Agility needs to be much more individualised and personalised. Everybody has a unique set of exposures, whether you’re talking about an individual or a business.
- Turns out that automation is a huge competitive factor. And with the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a strong argument that back-office automation is more important than ever. In 2020, we’ve still got people that are taking information in on one screen and typing it into another screen.
Low-code enables you to build custom applications faster than the traditional way of coding and testing them. In contrast, traditional application development projects have a lot of costs, a lot of overhead and take a lot more time to complete. The old way of building applications just doesn’t move at the speed of today’s economy. With low-code automation, it’s much faster—eight to 12 weeks—to deploy a new product or service out to the marketplace. Which means you’re talking about deploying a critical business application in weeks or months rather than years.
There’s an innovation rule of thumb that says it takes about ten years to build a new platform and another ten years for it to catch on. So, when CIO looks at the next decade and which technologies will have the biggest impact on the industry, the CIO thinks first and foremost of IT systems as a platform. The author expects that over the next decade, these applications will become more mainstream for companies that don’t allow their legacy IT systems to hold them back in a multi-year journey to digital transformation.
Developing countries that don’t have the burden of legacy technology. Insurers in these countries are coming up with some very innovative ways to partner with other providers to allow customers to quickly add a coverage—for something like an e-scooter—and calculate the rate behind the scenes, premium, and so on. Enabling technologies like low-code automation allows you to leverage your legacy system investment. Low-code is also a way to bridge technologies that can help make your organisation more agile. Companies that embrace enabling technologies like low-code are going to be in a much better position ten years from now.
Insurers appear to be pretty similar when you look at their org chart in terms of functional disciplines. But innovation is the opposite of that. It tends to be all over the map. The point is, there’s no consistency to where you find responsibility for innovation in large organisations. Add to that the song and dance that innovation teams often have to do to prove they’re adding value to the organisation. So, innovation tends to be kind of a sideshow.
Too often, innovation teams become a kind of glorified procurement departments—the front door to the real decision-makers who call the shots on major tech investment. Innovation as a functional discipline needs to be much more integrated than that. Make innovation a part of everyone’s responsibility.
Offensive and defensive
Ideally, your innovation team should have both offensive and defensive objectives. Defensive innovation means looking for process improvement opportunities. In contrast, there’s something called a moonshot. He calls this offensive innovation.
Innovation as a competency
It’s essential to understand the business roadmap and not just what you’re executing on this year in terms of your project portfolio. Senior executives should always have a long-term strategy that they validate every six months, and they need to make innovation as a core competency a big part of the conversation.
Take the detour
Perhaps your company decided to go down a certain path in 2015, and perhaps you went with a large on-premises solution that came with a multi-year implementation. Fast forward to 2020, and a cloud-based solution probably looks a lot more attractive than it did five years ago. The point is when you embark on a digital transformation journey— because of the timeline and cost involved—it’s easy to get stuck. But that’s the wrong approach. We live in a world of accelerating change. Change is happening faster and faster all the time. Leaders must build a willingness to take some detours into their processes and budget.
Chapter 10 A Technology Business Needs Simplicity
We might want to call a business that has achieved symbiosis with technology, simply, a Technology Business.
When technology is so intertwined with business, you need simplicity.
- Simplicity is indeed key to quickly and effectively creating the next generation of application solutions and services, in the closest proximity of the business.
- Simplicity is also needed to handle the surge of data and events, coming from an exploding number of internal and external sources.
- Simplicity is needed to deal with the eminently complex, highly interconnected and volatile business models of original economic, political and socio-cultural landscapes. But above all, it is simplicity that consumers want.
- No other area in technology illustrates the quest for simplicity more than IT infrastructure.
Being overly dependent on specialised suppliers may be unacceptable to some organisations, but so is the cost of building one’s own capabilities. Open industry standards may well be the most effective way to benefit from simplified infrastructure services.
The app is still the primary means to deliver information or make something do something for us. And Bot is the new app. Powerful No-Code and Low-Code tools enable a Technology Business to quickly build application services anywhere in the organisation, with a Bot and voice assistant cherry-on-top. The more established applications are still out there— albeit as white elephants, eating too much and delivering little value. There is nothing like the breath of fresh air that comes from a successful application rationalisation to highlight the virtues of simplification, which consolidates and de-customises applications—decommissioning the redundant ones.
If Technology Business is the car, then data becomes the fuel. Data becomes understandable, prescriptive and actionable. AI to the rescue! It can find the right data, integrate it fluently and keep it all aligned—even if the business isn’t centralised itself. Data holds the power to ignite, but it needs to be used wisely.
Automation and EQ
In such a short space of time, Robotic Process Automation (fondly known as RPA) has completely redefined the notion of ‘automation’, thus proving its own—very efficient—point. But what is next for all the office workers who have been glued (voluntarily or not) to their screens for years, when they are replaced by software? Even more so, consider the potential impact of intelligent process automation and the touchless, “hands-free” processes that bring the same cognitive capabilities we thought were unique to humans—until now. For businesses that increasingly run on processes that take care of themselves, there is a clear need to develop Emotional Intelligence: “Technology Business EQ.”
The ultimate user experience is the pinnacle of technology-enabled simplicity as it wraps itself around us in a cuddly warm blanket, adapting to our expectations, needs, safety requirements and behaviours. It becomes almost psychic in its ability to anticipate what we want and when we want it. But can these ‘non-experience’ make life too simple? The antidote? A proper dose of serendipity to happily discover in a coincidental and unplanned manner. https://www.ronimmink.com/actively-managing-serendipity-is-more-important-than-business-optimisation/
Show me your application services portfolio, and I’ll tell you about your company
There is one all-telling rule of thumb: show me your application services portfolio, and I’ll tell you about your company. Although Agile methodology working through Minimum Viable Products now seems to be the established norm, the quality of applications needs to be enterprise-level, as the trust balance of the organisation is always at risk. The applications portfolio of a thriving Technology Business is much more light-weight, easy to connect to, and built on the shoulders of typical cloud-native qualities.
To unleash the Technology Business, various steps should be considered.
- First of all, existing applications need to be simplified, rationalised, consolidated and decommissioned.
- In all cases, it needs the dedicated mind of a tidying-up guru to actually get things done.
- Existing or newly developed applications can be augmented by adding a touch of “smart” to them. Adding easy-to-use, conversational interfaces, such as voice assistant and Bots, on top of applications services.
- New applications are rapidly built and released DevOps-style—in quick iterations by joint business and IT teams, leveraging microservices, APIs, software containers, serverless computing, and radically automated, high-productivity “No-Code” and “Low-Code” tools.
When code goes low, business gets on a high! The organisation may be blessed with brilliant ideas for killer application services, but it will need to deliver them blazingly fast and with the right quality. Classic software delivery based on manual work, complex programming languages and more mythical man-months will only get you so far. It is now easier than ever to construct applications without huge coding efforts.
Silent and reliable
It’s not a beast to be tamed; it’s the silent, reliable engine powering business technology. As simple
as that. Technology has the power to deliver simplicity, and that is needed now more than ever. And it goes way beyond augmenting the way we develop and deliver applications. Still, simplicity requires good judgement. If one were to deny complexity and go for oversimplification, shallowness would ensue, making us oblivious to underlying facts, causes, reasons and technology realities.
Afterword An economic revolution
The afterword by the CTO of Appian:
Hyperautomation may sound like some futuristic tech prediction, some far off requirement that may never come to pass. But sometimes the future is a lot closer than you realise. When COVID hit, Some were able to build new low-code automations in just 24 hours. Banks that had taken a hyper-automation approach with low-code were either unaffected.
Inverse Moore´s law
From the steam engine to the silicon microchip, whenever we succeed in reducing the cost of production by order of magnitude (10-fold), new business models become possible, and the old order is challenged. Matt Calkins coined the term “Inverse-Moore’s Law,” to describe focusing on cutting in half the time and cost required to build applications and automate work every two years.
Hyperautomation is thus best understood as the practical augmentation of the speed and accuracy of human work with technology in relentless pursuit of that 10-fold and 100-fold improvement that will unlock entirely new business models and drive economic and social change beyond our current imagining.
He uses paper as an example. Just scanning these documents with OCR is a 12 billion dollar business if we only count the software licence costs. If you take in all cost, it will get closer to $100 billion. Start by measuring your hyper-automation project like your economic goal, in this case, it’s your price-per-page. The business case is compelling
He advocated as a platform approach. There are three principal reasons why the platform approach to hyper-automation is winning
- the scarcity of skilled computer scientists
- the need and benefits of future-proofing your hyper-automation investments
- the need for resilience in your systems and processes as demonstrated by crises like COVID-19.
Scarcity of talent
The scarcity of skilled programmers and computer scientists is a problem that the market is correcting for, but not in the traditional manner. Perhaps 10x or 100x more than ever before. And now COVID-19 has only exacerbated geopolitical tensions in ways not seen since the Cold War. Those overseas developers graduating each year are depending on where you are located and what trade tensions are brewing this week, perhaps rendering them no longer even available to you.
This is the fundamental case for a low-code platform approach to building strategic apps and automation. Get 10x to 20x the productivity from the skilled developers you have while opening up your teams to hire legions of non-traditional developers from non-traditional backgrounds like mechanical engineers, music majors, and even political scientists like myself, as well as leverage citizen developers where it makes sense.
Limiting tech debt
Building your hyper-automation program around low-code automation platforms can future-proof your technology investment by limiting the amount of tech debt your team is taking on with each new app and automation.
Hyperautomation calls for a holistic approach from the start to achieve a future-proof model of augmenting, not replacing, human strategic thinking and work. Use low-code if you need a new app, add automation or start with automation if the priority is working with data in existing apps. But monitor, optimise, repurpose, and retire legacy systems and legacy digital workers (Bots or algorithms) as circumstances evolve. If you keep to these fundamentals, your hyper-automation goal of 10x and 100x improvement is within your reach.