IT Leadership

Low-Code Platforms Help Ease the Shadow IT Adversity Pain

Stand-alone automation platforms and low-code software tools in recent years have enabled vendors to increase sales of products designed for specific roles and functions directly to business users.

Often, this puts IT management at arm’s length from enforcing governance and security standards.

This shift to a more hands-on internal process can put a company’s CIO at odds with IT managers and software programmers over “shadow IT” issues.

That ongoing turf dispute is forcing CIOs to alter their roles within corporate settings.

CIOs now must balance new one-off IT issues with the traditional aspects of their role, observed Carter Busse, CIO at Workato.

They are balancing shadow IT on top of security, compliance, and cost-effectiveness, so that shadow IT becomes more of a team player rather than competing adversity with the company.

In the broader sense, shadow IT refers to information technology (IT) projects managed outside of an organization’s IT department. Often that occurs without the knowledge of IT awareness and management.

For example, workers within a company use other peer-to-peer file-sharing and cloud collaboration tools that IT has not sanctioned and configured.

Shadow IT Here To Stay

Especially with the expanded deployment of working-from-home arrangements, data security goes lacking with employees using messaging apps, flash drives, and HDDs that operate beyond in-house network protections.

Analysts predict the hyper-automation market will reach nearly $600 billion this year. That forecast begs the question: how does a CIO manage all of a company’s IT going forward?

Carter Busse has the answer to dealing with the shadow IT problem. CIOs can allow low-code and automation tools without losing control of IT architecture, he assured TechNewsWorld.

One essential tool to achieve this outcome is a low-code/no-code platform. Such platforms let enterprises integrate their software stack and automate the work for integration and workflow automation across their organization.

“Shadow IT will always be there. You will never eliminate shadow IT. It is a necessary evil, I think,” he said. “The industry for selling software as a service product is too entrenched to ever go away.”

It is up to the IT leader to deal with it. The right architecture, governance, and business relationships make shadow IT an avenue for IT to be more strategic, he explained.

Alternative Strategies

Workato’s low-code/no-code enterprise platform gives corporate CIOs a new approach to integrating and automating tools and workflow apps. It provides an alternative to being at war with shadow IT elements. Good IT managers need to figure out how to work with the business and be partners within the business, Busse suggested.

“They have to enable their apps to become even more powerful. The platform can actually help IT become more of a partner with the business,” he said.

He sees Workato’s approach as the industry’s next platform for IT and business leaders to move forward. A low-code/no-code platform literally takes you to the next level, he added.

“It changes things because it gives the people who know the process the best an ability to take control. It is not IT. It is the business leaders,” he said. “You can actually sit down with the business leaders and let them automate their processes live in these low-code/no-code interfaces.”

As a CIO, he repeatedly views Workato’s platform users doing their own process automation with its tools. With that, they have the entire software governance process in tow to make sure they do it correctly.

Low-Code, No-Code Platforms Explained

Low-code is a software development approach requiring little-to-no coding to build applications and processes. Rather than using complex programming languages, low-code lets programmers in IT departments employ visual interfaces with basic logic and drag-and-drop capabilities in a low-code development platform.

Low-code is not the same approach as no-code solutions. No-code platforms target business users. Low-code platforms instead are tools for developers. Both rely on a visual development interface.

Workato’s somewhat combined solution provides IT users with the building blocks to do both. They can assemble tasks into workflows and applications. It is built on a cloud platform that auto-scales. This eliminates the complexities of infrastructure provisioning and capacity planning.

Low-code building blocks remove the code behind actions and commands, making it possible for IT to assemble workflows and business apps without the need for hand-coding.

Workato’s low-code/no-code platform enables both business and IT teams to do both approaches using its integrated approach. They can build integrations at five times the speed of other integration platforms, according to Busse.

It is business process management software that manages and integrates a company’s financial status, supply chain, operations, commerce, reporting, manufacturing, and human resource activities.

“The platform lets IT and business leaders integrate the apps they have around them to get the data they actually need. In turn, that makes shadow IT less of a problem,” he added.

How It Works

From Busse’s perspective, Workato’s platform is a building block for every IT shop. It is a cloud app that also offers an on-premises client.

Workato connectors are the foundations for workflow automation with the platform. Each one includes a method of authentication, triggers, and actions for a specific app. They help companies walk through the process of integrating what they had on-premises into their cloud operations.

Recipes are sets of instructions that are designed to trigger automated complex workflows. Recipes are often used as REST endpoints that can be called from other recipes or apps. Workato’s customers developed most of the automation recipes.

REST, or representational state transfer, is a software architectural style created to guide the design of architecture for the web. A REST API is a way for two computers to communicate over HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), much like how clients and servers communicate.

Triggers in Workato’s software platform are data conditions that prompt an action to happen automatically. They can be scheduled, move records in batches, and read from on-premises files.

A set of available actions exist for every trigger. Actions can have multiple steps and multiple conditions.

Impact on CIO’s Role

The workflow results the platform performs directly benefit CIOs, said Busse. It gives them the ability to move much faster and keep up with the business. “This gives a safe playground to the business users,” he noted.

A critical component is the added control provided for governance issues. Governance, a big part of a CIO’s role, is also a key requirement for any software platform that allows business users to work with corporate data.

For example, Workato Aegis is a management tool for cross-enterprise visibility into users and usage, integration processes, and the applications they connect. That combination of functions makes the CIO’s job more productive and responsive.

Aegis supports assigning different levels of responsibility and visibility within the platform. It enables collaboration between business and IT users as well. It also enables the implementation and enforcement of policies to improve security and governance across all users within an enterprise. 

Jack M. Germain

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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