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Process automation and analytics are converging.
This article outlines the history of process automation and summarizes why warehouse centric process automation (also known as operational analytics) will power the future of business operations.
The history of process automation
Over time, process automation has gone through different stages:
What is the downside of using automation tools for process automation?
Automation tools like iPaaS (integration platform as a service) solutions create a direct coupling between business applications and business processes. Increasing switching costs, and reducing agility. You can't swap out an application without having to create entirely new business processes.
As long as you never change your tools and applications, these tools work great for process automation. The workflows are stable, they are simple, and they are fast. You can log into an iPaaS tool, create a workflow and let it run in the background forever.
The problem is that tech stacks evolve. As companies expand, as they grow their teams, and as new solutions are introduced to the market, companies need to be able to migrate to new technologies to gain leverage and scale their business operations.
Warehouse centric process automation allows you to define your processes entirely independently from your business applications
Cloud data warehouses are scalable, fast, easy to use, and leverage a widely accessible language to define procedures (SQL). In many cases, companies have already filled a data warehouse with valuable information from their business applications and generated insights that can power process automation out of the box.
This approach is so powerful because you can define entire processes that are decoupled from the suite of applications you leverage.
Here is an example of how things work with automation tools today
Let's say you have a business process where you take the list of customers that are in the 'negotiating contract' lifecycle phase in your customer relationship management (CRM) system, and send them an email with your email service provider (ESP).
Using an automation tool, you would authenticate with your CRM system, configure the data to be extracted, set up loops to iterate through the data, map the data you need to the fields in your ESP system, configure a connection to your ESP, authenticate, and set the workflow live.
If you change your CRM system, this entire workflow breaks. If you change your ESP system, you start from scratch. Not only do you need a new connection, but the way you extract the data, the iteration process, the field mapping, all changes. Every workflow you have created is coupled with the systems that are part of it.
What does this look like with warehouse centric process automation
Process automation through a data warehouse can be thought of as three distinct and decoupled steps:
The actual processing logic (step #2 above) can be defined in a way that is entirely agnostic to the source application and the downstream system. You can create entire business processes that can be reused and repurposed as you switch out and evolve your business applications.
For the CRM to ESP example workflow above, you can now create a process against the data, not the applications. As long as you have a data source that can provide a list of customers with a lifecycle phase (i.e. 'negotiating contract'), you can use this existing procedure to turn the data into the fields necessary to send an email.
If you decide to switch your CRM system, you can connect the new tool to the same process, run it in parallel to make sure everything looks correct, and then sunset your old solution. If you acquire a company with their own CRM system, you can feed this process with data from both CRMs at the same time. If you decide to switch your email platform, or use the same data to power additional messaging channels with the same upstream data (i.e. text messages as well as email) it is trivial.
This decoupling provides unbelievable flexibility, agility, and visibility into your business processes, so you can automate processes while also minimizing the switching costs inherent in upgrading your enterprise tech stack.
This warehouse based architecture offers three core benefits for enterprise agility and extensibility
At Portable, we have invested the last year and a half architecting our tech platform to make warehouse centric process automation possible
We are a warehouse centric no-code connector platform built to empower data teams with the tools necessary to define robust, reliable and extensible workflows through their data warehouse. We handle the logic and technology that connects your business applications to your warehouse, so you can invest in building reusable processes and analytics.
Specifically, we have architected our platform and our company around two objectives:
We love talking about new trends, technologies, and best-in-class data architecture. If you want to learn more, don't hesitate to reach out
We know the best practices, the cutting edge technologies, the consultants, and the limitations of the cloud data ecosystem. We also speak the language of process automation and business operations. If you have open questions or ideas, we are more than happy to set up time to brainstorm together. If you want a demo of our platform, or are interested in working with us, even better!
Excited to hear from you at [email protected].