Why workflow automation matters (to developers)

Developers need to know more about workflow automation, it appears.

As analyst ‘thumb in the air’ pontificating predictions have ‘suggested’, the workflow automation market is expected to reach nearly US$ 17 (£12) billion by 2023, up from $4.7 billion in 2017.

But what is workflow automation?

Related to business process automation, IT process orchestration and content automation, workflow automation is perhaps best described as a means of managing and streamlining manual and paper-based processes made up of typically repetitive tasks (which are often essentially unstructured in their nature) which go towards making up a higher level total digital business process.

Good workflow automation reduces employee loss because workers hate managers who fail to communicate with them – but with this technology, they can have an automated communications backbone with accountability pointing to who should do what, and when.

But, as we apply automation, we need to be careful and remember what Bill (Gates) said – below.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

Big data’s role

Why the workflow automation 101 and clarification then?

Because as companies across industries accelerate their digital initiatives and bring more business functions online, IT systems are becoming increasingly distributed. With this shift, business processes are undergoing their own transformation and becoming more complex and interconnected, driving demand for workflow automation and visibility technology…

… and it’s developers who are building it.

One player in this market is Camunda. The company has just hit the version 2.0 release of its Optimize product, a software tool designed to combine big data and workflow automation to provide a holistic view of business process performance.

The product provides stakeholders with what has been glamorously called ‘instantaneous insight’ into revenue-generating business processes as they are automated.

“With Optimize 2.0, business leaders can identify potential problems and fix weak spots in core processes before delivery of products and services to customers is disrupted,” said the company.

Camunda claims that many traditional workflow systems can’t manage the dramatic increase of transactions processed online, in addition to the growth of distributed systems as companies adopt cloud, containers and microservices.

Because of this, Camunda claims to be the only vendor addressing the big workflow impact all these developments have with software that provides cohesive end-to-end intelligence into how well core business workflow processes are working.

“Optimize 2.0 combines the power of big data and workflow automation to enable customers to understand what’s going on with the most important aspects of their business: their revenue-generating processes,” said Jakob Freund, co-founder and CEO of Camunda. “With its flow charts, reports and analytics, Optimize customers can see precisely what steps have been executed, the status of orders for customers and detailed information if and why they are stuck in the process.”

Optimize 2.0 provides a report builder, dashboards, alerts and correlation analytics to give customers visibility into how their business workflows and processes are performing.

With the Camunda REST API, Optimize imports the historical data, storing it in an Elasticsearch big data repository that allows for queries. After the initial import, Optimize will pull new data from Camunda in configurable intervals providing user with up-to-date information in soft real-time.

NOTE: Soft real-time systems are typically used to solve issues of concurrent access and the need to keep a number of connected systems up-to-date through changing situations — like software that maintains & updates flight plans for commercial airlines: the flight plans must be kept reasonably current, but they can operate with the latency of a few seconds.

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