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Study Reveals Companies Need Automation Governance

A new market study from InformationWeek has revealed that as many organizations have embarked on automation as part of digital transformation initiatives, there is a growing need for governance around all of the automations being built.

When it comes to automation within an organization, the study found that:

  • 53% of IT teams manage 100 or more applications across their organizations.
  • 30% of IT teams task 50 or more system admins to support all of these applications.
  • 78% of system admins are building integrations across their application portfolios.
  • 69% of system admins are building workflow and automation on top of this application infrastructure.
  • 60% of teams spend 10 or more hours per week (a whole financial quarter of people-hours) working on internally developed scripts to manage IT systems and processes.

While all of this automation is great for solving some of the backlog and resource constraint issues, when it's done ad hoc by IT teams building their own scripts or home-grown automation, and using a variety of APIs to alleviate their woes - this can cause issues.

In fact, according to the study more than four in 10 respondents to the survey said they spend at least five hours a week developing home-grown scripts for automation between and within applications and writing scripts for workflow and automation. That means that IT workers are spending more than six weeks a year tending to the care and feeding of internally built automations.

This works well in limited situations, but at scale, the DIY mentality quickly creates its own IT administrative headaches within organizations.

Opportunities for Data Governance Abound

The proliferation of SaaS solutions and departmental point solutions is driving a need for better management of data integrity, data sharing and workflows between these applications.

The state of application portfolios today is such that 80% of all organizations have 50 or more point solutions throughout the organization that IT teams must juggle administration of. And more than half of the organizations surveyed — 53% — have 100 more applications to worry about.

The study also found that:

  • 70% of respondents believe that their scripts and APIs are not well documented and lack controls.
  • 47% of respondents say their scripts and APIs don’t adhere to security standards and an additional 19% report they don’t know whether they do.
  • 28% of organizations have more than a six-month backlog on automation work requests.
  • 25% of organizations have more than a 6-month backlog to fulfill integration work requests.

As the survey shows, system integrations are being built over and over again by all of these different system administrators, often with little governance over the process and no documentation. And a lack of governance means that IT administrators are not ensuring that APIs, integrations and automated workflows across applications are securely built. Nor is the process orchestrated to limit the amount of redundant effort put into these tasks by various IT admins, who might be working in different groups and not closely collaborating.

This creates a chaotic environment as systems come and go, and various pieces of infrastructure need to be rebuilt or pointed at different applications that might have their bespoke automation built on top of them. This is cumbersome to navigate and introduces big downtime and security risks if change management is not handled properly.

It also often depends on knowledgeable superstar employees with institutional knowledge to keep the whole house of cards upright. When those people leave the organization, many times the automations they built fail.

According to respondents, six in ten said they and their team spend 10 or more hours per week working on internally developed scripts to manage these systems and the processes they run. Again, that’s an entire quarter’s worth of work just in that mission of keeping these home-grown processes running. Nearly the same ratio of respondents said they spend at least five hours a week on integration-related work to get these systems to play nicely together.

With so many administrators and so many APIs, everyone is building integrations, working with APIs creating workflows, and moving data - makeshift automation methods are not sustainable, nor are they secure or efficient.

Improving Governance with Centralized Integration and Automation

The best way to create standardization around your integrations and automations is to centralize them around a single enterprise integration and automation tool – iPaaS.

iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) centralizes all integrations into one hub with a library of connectors to common systems such as Workday, Oracle, your IT service management (ITSM) platform, Salesforce, the Active Directory, Azure and hundreds more, as well as any APIs.

With all systems connected and data points now secured in one spot, end-users can leverage the platform to move data, transform data, and build out automations and workflows using a visual flow builder that can be triggered from a field change, a form fill, or any number of actions.

For example, it is possible to build out a flow to update the Active Directory when a request is made to add a user to a group. This may come in as a ticket, but then the IT team can easily click on ‘approve’ and the system will automatically trigger this workflow versus having to manually do this.

Top 5 Benefits of iPaaS

Here are the top 5 benefits of using a codeless iPaaS platform for all your integration and automation needs:

  1. Anyone Can Use It. With the right iPaaS tool, anyone can become a citizen developer. What does this mean? The best iPaaS tools are ones that utilize visual flow builders with drag and drop functionality. These tools are codeless, meaning you don’t need deep technical knowledge to get up and running. The benefit of this is you don’t need to rely on central IT resources to start integrating data and automating your processes. By democratizing integrations, you can free up valuable resources and boost efficiencies.
  2. Data Synchronization. Limited resources often mean you need to make strategic, data-based business decisions. But with data coming from so many systems, and sometimes through manual data entry, there’s a large margin for error. With iPaaS you can pull the data together (and automate manual data entry) to lower your margin for error and get a better, accurate picture of your data landscape. This, in turn, means you can make better data-based decisions.
  3. Automation of Repetitive Tasks. For many, this is a BIG benefit. Within departments such as IT, there is often a list of tasks that need to be completed daily, weekly and monthly. These tasks can be small, but they take time and resources to complete. Using iPaaS, IT departments are automating these tasks. Through automation, they are gaining time back in their day to focus on bigger projects and problems. This is a huge benefit, especially in IT, where resources and time are precious. There are other routine requests that can also take considerable time such as onboarding/offboarding employees – imagine if these types of activities could be automated.
  4. Visibility to Data and Integration Points. As lines of business procure more and more software, organizations are finding that they may have 300-500 applications in use – many holding the same data without synchronization. Connecting these applications is virtually impossible without the aid of an integration platform. Many attempts are made with APIs and webhooks which furthers security risk – does IT have true visibility to the integration points throughout every department and application? When you integrate and automate your organization with iPaaS you can get visibility to all of this. You can see which APIs are in use and by whom, and you can see where data is flowing back and forth. By using an integration layer, you can shore up access and secure your systems. In addition, you can get visibility into the workflows being built across departments and be able to better manage resources and processes.
  5. Efficiency Gains. With iPaaS you can see efficiency gains. From automating small daily tasks and data entry, to fully automating complex processes like onboarding a new employee – with iPaaS you gain back valuable time and resources that you can use to focus on other improvements to keep your customers happy.

Want to learn more about how organizations are overcoming the impacts of resource drain? Check out the latest market study from InformationWeek: State of IT – Resource Drain.