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Low-code automation: The key to the composable enterprise

woman looking at a projection of computer code
(Image credit: Getty)

Enterprises and rapidly growing companies are increasingly embracing the concept of the composable enterprise. Gartner defines the composable enterprise as “an organization that can innovate and adapt to changing business needs through the assembly and combination of packaged business capabilities.”

Essentially, the composable enterprise is about operating with the flexibility and agility to quickly assemble and reassemble functional “building blocks” to adapt quickly to changes in the business.

Being able to swiftly and iteratively implement, test, and refactor your processes, and the tools you use to execute, is extraordinarily valuable. More than ever, speed is a crucial competitive factor throughout the entire organization. Exogenous factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent rise of the distributed workforce, have significantly underscored the importance of fast execution on initiatives such as digital transformation (DX). 

Meanwhile, businesses increasingly live and die based on how well they can deliver a superior customer experience (CX) – with 90% of customers citing “immediate” response to their queries as a top priority.

The growing cost of the status quo

it professional monitoring a server room

The majority of today's IT spending is on upgrading infrastructure (Image credit: Getty)

There’s a reason why the majority of today’s IT spending is going toward upgrading IT infrastructure. Aside from the fact that many organizations are still struggling to migrate parts of their stack to the cloud, legacy IT products lack the flexibility and scalability modern businesses need to adapt to changing conditions. 

Unfortunately, the status quo approach seems to simply have been to acquire more software. As needs grow, organizations have apparently adopted the approach of acquiring more point solutions to address more individual pain points. In fact, the average enterprise uses more than 1,200+ cloud applications. In the wake of this so-called “SaaS explosion,” developers have launched literally thousands of new software products to sate the seemingly endless appetite of businesses.

IT experts already know that having line-of-business (LOB) users acquiring more and more software applications to implement, adopt, and manage over time leads to increasing levels of technical debt. 

Technical debt, which accumulates over time as teams accept suboptimal performance against the implied cost of a better (but more resource-intensive) rework, prevents businesses from adopting the more-flexible model of the composable enterprise. In other words, companies increasingly find their processes dictated by the capabilities and gaps in their particular software tool choices. As a result, it becomes impossible to build a system of modular building blocks for organizations that can only execute processes in one set way.

In the modern enterprise, technical debt incurs costs that are more than implied. In a recent survey, CIOs not only reported that as much as 20% of their technology budgets go toward resolving technical debt, but that tech debt accounts for up to 40% of their entire technology stack before depreciation. For the year 2020 alone, technical debt cost American businesses an estimated $1.31 trillion.

Low-code automation unblocks debt, unlocks the composable enterprise

The story so far: as businesses attempt to keep pace with customer expectations and competitive pressures, LOB teams acquire an ever-larger tech estate. IT teams inherit the accruing technical debt. 

As a result, IT increasingly splits focus between servicing internal requests for LOB (such as implementations, software integrations, and process automation) and attempting to keep up with critical strategic needs, such as DX and infosec. LOB teams, meanwhile, grow increasingly frustrated as they wait for their overburdened IT teams to get around to removing their operational bottlenecks.

It’s no wonder that organizations are turning to low-code automation, which offers a variety of solutions to our multifaceted challenge. Low-code automation solutions, as their name implies, require little to no coding knowledge to implement. As a result, low-code gives LOB users the power to self-service their own implementation and integration needs without needing to wait for IT to intervene. Gartner notes that 41% of employees outside of IT already build their own technology solutions, and that half of all new low-code buyers will come from outside of IT.
 
 With low-code integration and automation solutions, line-of-business teams are realizing significantly faster time to value when implementing new tools, and greater return on investment from their tech estate overall by using low-code to migrate to the composable enterprise model. The best low-code solutions give users the flexibility to configure custom data flows by integrating software at the API level. Organizations are realizing powerful benefits at all levels, beyond IT, capturing more than 100% ROI from efficiency and increasing customer renewal rates by double digits.

Most encouragingly, low-code has progressed beyond a passing fad and is coming into its own as part of the enterprise tech stack. Smart companies are finding low-code automation vendors that offer enterprise-grade features such as authentication and permission management, as well as enterprise-grade security such as SOC 2 certification and compliance with important privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA.

Alistair Russell is CTO and co-founder at Tray.io.

Alistair Russell
Alistair Russell

Alistair Russell is CTO and co-founder of Tray.io. A graduate of the University of Southampton, he collaborated with computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee on Semantic Web UX research as part of the Web Science Research Initiative. Ali co-founded Tray.io because he saw there was a shortage of the software engineering skills that modern companies need to scale in a world overrun by SaaS. Making the creation of software more accessible to business professionals has been a key tenet of his career.