Year in Review: 4 Factors that Changed the Integration Space in 2017

Warren Buffet has often said that people underestimate the impact of change while overestimating how fast the change happens. So if you’re a start-up with an innovative product that is a change agent, that means you will eventually be rewarded—but first, you must be patient.

The last year at Workato has been an amazing journey. The growth of a platform like Workato is tied to a few factors:

  • That the rate of overall cloud adoption across all enterprises continues to grow and that digital transformation becomes a more strategic and urgent imperative;
  • That digital business initiatives will require a much more versatile platform, one that supports a broader and more dynamic range of integration and automation use cases than are possible with traditional integration tools;
  • That IT and other specialists do not become a bottleneck in the fast-growing number of dynamic integration and automation tasks at the core of digital transformation;
  • That the demand for smarter workflows and processes powered by AI and machine learning will continue to grow; and
  • That bots and collaboration tools like Slack will go from the early adopter stage to truly mainstream tools for how and where digital workers get work done.

Based on these factors and in keeping with Buffet’s take on change, my assumption going into 2017 was that there would be an uptick in these trends in the market led by industries like high tech, retail, and eCommerce in regions like the US—and to stay away from industries like financial services because perceived security concerns could limit cloud adoption. I also assumed integration specialists would want to continue to create and operate most of the integrations themselves and that the adoption of AI, ML, and bots that work with business apps would be slow outside of early adopters.

However, Workato’s 2017 turned out quite differently than Warren Buffet would have predicted.

4 Trends That Changed the Integration Space in 2017

1) Integration and automation have become crucial to digital transformation.

Skyhigh reports that the average organization now uses 1,427 cloud services, an increase of 23.7% over the same quarter last year. It’s no secret that cloud adoption has been on the rise for years, but it’s been amazing to watch the rate of adoption skyrocket, including in some verticals—like financial services—that many people thought would lag behind. Workato ended 2017 with a substantial number of financial services customers including Visa, E*TRADE, and Bain Capital. We were surprised and delighted by the number of financial services companies who adopted all three big cloud apps: Salesforce, Workday, and ServiceNow. Given our product’s depth and strength with these apps—Salesforce and Workday are both investors in Workato—this frequently leads to great conversations.

Additionally, digital transformation is driving strong growth in the traditional integration space but even stronger growth in the larger intelligent automation space. Most notably:

  • Gartner predicts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37% between 2016 and 2021 for the Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) space. MarketsandMarkets predicts that the iPaaS market size is will grow from $528.0 million in 2016 to an estimated $2,998.3 million by 2021.
  • But Gartner’s prediction for some of the immediately adjacent markets—which require support for a massive volume of a new customer- and employee-facing integration use cases, like the Workstream Collaboration market led by innovative vendors like Slack—is even stronger, with 96% cumulative annual growth.
  • Similar very strong growth rates are predicted by analysts for the adoption of AI, ML, bots, and IoT.

All of these trends point to why 2017 was an absolutely transformative year for Workato. They also make it very clear that intelligent automation platforms like Workato—platforms that harness these trends and technologies to deliver modern, cohesive, comprehensive digital business technology solutions—are just getting started.

2) Integration specialists want to promote “integration self-service.”

As we grew in 2017, a big question for us was whether integration specialists, who previously had a monopoly on building integrations, would embrace other types of employees joining in. The answer was a resounding yes.

Throughout the year, we met so many integration specialists who simply could not keep up with the business requests for integrations. Their backlog was daunting. For example, our largest new customer in 2017 was a very conservative energy infrastructure company that I never expected would be open to such a shift in how their integrations were created. But their integration specialists knew that they couldn’t survive if they didn’t make others part of the integration team.

Their approach to evaluating potential integration tools really drove this idea home: rather than ask vendors to showcase how they would solve the company’s use cases, the integration specialists asked for a three-hour training session on the product. They then attempted to build the integrations themselves. They wanted to make sure “integration self-service” actually worked. That’s when they realized how different Workato was and why it was the only way forward. In 2018, I expect every integration specialist to demand “integration self-service.” It’s simply better for everyone.

3) Artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analysis workflow adoption are happening now.

There’s not a single publication that hasn’t written about AI and how it will change the way business runs. But in most of these accounts, widespread use of AI feels far off; the functionality depicted is still futuristic. In 2017, however, our customers proved that the future is now! From IBM Watson to Salesforce Einstein and Google Cloud Vision, we saw leading companies ask for (and achieve) awe-inspiring workflow automations involving AI, OCR, and more. For example,

  • The number-one worldwide retailer uses Workato and Google Cloud Vision to parse information from mobile images.
  • The number-one bakery cafe chain sends voicemails from the staff at their 1900 locations to Dialogflow’s NLP platform and creates new ServiceNow incidents with the transcript using Workato.
  • A leading creative agency used Workato to create a self-service help desk inside of Slack, automatically answering employee questions with a relevant help article from the Zendesk help desk. If the article doesn’t answer their question, the employee can create a new ticket in Zendesk with their query, straight from Slack.

These use cases are just the beginning of the innovative AI-powered workflows we’ll see in 2018!

4) Bots have become mainstream.

Since 2015, Workato has invested significantly in supporting Slack’s bot API by creating Workbot for Slack. With Workato, you can create a customized Slack bot that securely draws information from, and takes action in, all your business apps—no development skills necessary. The question was: would enterprises understand the potential? Would they embrace Slack for their business workflows across business apps? Would companies make the leap to using bots for business processes in sales, support, HR, and other departments?

Slack is now, according to Forbes, the fastest-growing workplace software ever. But it began as a darling among tech companies, and there was no way to know whether traditional enterprises would jump on the Slack bandwagon. According to Warren Buffet’s earlier wisdom, it would happen, but it would take some time.

Not so. At Slack’s first ever user conference, Slack Frontiers, a long line queued up at the Workato booth. People clearly understood what we were trying to do. And customers like Rapid7, E*TRADE, Nutanix, and others became Workato customers in 2017 for both our bot-building platform and our integration capabilities. Gartner now predicts that by 2021, more than 50% of enterprises will spend more per annum on bots and chatbot creation than traditional mobile app development. They say users are looking for better ways to do tasks effectively, without information silos. This ultimately supports the move towards bots, where a user can do multiple tasks from one location.

The main takeaway: who said integration was only between backend systems? Sometimes the best automation facilitates exception handling by the right person. Slack messages from your business apps and bot workflows make this possible. Integration today can be so much more than we ever imagined.

Workato’s Growth

Looking back, 2017 was quite extraordinary. Driven by these trends and the response to our intelligent automation platform, our business grew 300% last year. In 2018, Workato will continue leading the charge for powerful, self-service integration and automation. So many of the world’s leading brands have seen the power of Workato’s intelligent automation platform and how a pervasive integration, workflow automation, and bot platform can transform organizations.

Workato by the Numbers

2017 was a strong year for Workato in many ways:

  • 10,500+ new organizations across 59 countries started using Workato.
  • 2,950+ teams across 80 countries started using Workbot.
  • Top brands trusted Workato for their intelligent automations. These brands include:
    • The #1 financial services company
    • The #1 enterprise chat company
    • The #1 big data company
    • The #1 retailer
    • The #1 electronic trading company
    • The #1 bakery cafe chain
    • The #1 arts and crafts retailer
    • The #1 energy infrastructure company

When it comes to creating integrations (which we call recipes), 77% of customers completed their first integration within one week.

We are seeing strong adoption and validation of our intelligent automation platform across many industries with technology (34%), non-profit, education and government (22%), retail and eCommerce (14%), and financial services and accounting (13%) leading the way.

Regionally, North America led the way at 54%. With our strong and fast-growing operations out of Singapore, Asia-Pacific came in strong second at 23%, followed by EMEA (19%) and Latin America (4%).

Our enterprise customers created over 100 integrations across an average of nine apps within six months of going live with Workato.

Workato has always been community-powered, with over 80,000 community recipes added in the last 12 months. And our customers are directly benefiting from these contributions; 74% of the new integrations built in 2017 were cloned from existing recipes, significantly cutting down on the time-to-value of enterprise integration projects.

More Than iPaaS: Entering the Era of Intelligent Automation

Digital transformation and modern digital businesses require a new kind of integration and automation platform—one that does more than enterprise app and data integration, that empowers more doers beyond IT and other specialists, and that works more like a digital utility.

An intelligent automation platform must:

  • Allow for a wide variety of integrations, from app and data integration to APIs and IOT;
  • Enable many different personas, from integration specialists to business analysts, to create robust integrations; and
  • Work like your Instagram—not a camcorder.

See why intelligent automation is key to digital transformation >

A Big Year for Our Platform

2017 was marked by significant growth in both the capabilities of our intelligent automation platform and the diversity of integration use cases from customers exploiting this versatility. Here’s how our platform grew over the past year.

  • Twice the number of pre-built connectors: Workato currently has 600+ pre-built connectors for cloud apps, on-prem applications and databases, ERPs, communication protocols, file transfer and cloud storage apps, event streams, IoT, and AI platforms. In addition to our pre-built connectors, partners and ISVs can use our adapter development kit to build custom connectors. Developers can share these connectors on the Workato platform for other community members to use.
  • Rich, collaborative, bot-driven enterprise integrations/workflows: The popularity of enterprise chat applications is creating new automation patterns. As messaging platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams become the hub of collaboration and productivity, Workbot has evolved rapidly to support sophisticated workflows that enable users to access data from one or more apps (e.g. customer account from Salesforce); use the context to lookup information in another app (e.g. Zendesk for support tickets and JIRA for engineering tasks); and collate the information fragments to create a 360° degree view of the customer (e.g. order info from CRM, support data from Zendesk, and issue resolution status from JIRA). Workbot has also been heavily used for approval workflows, which give end users the ability to review and approve requests directly from Slack or Microsoft Teams.
  • Employee on- and offboarding solutions via Workday and Okta connectors and partnerships: The rise of Workday as an HR hub and Okta as an identity and access management (IAM) hub has encouraged customers to streamline their employee onboarding workflows. Workato’s feature-rich connectors for Workday and Okta, IT Operations (ServiceNow), procurement (Coupa), e-signature solutions (DocuSign) make it simple and quick to construct automation from hiring onboarding) to retiring (offboarding).
  • ML and AI-powered recipe creation rolled out to 100% of users: Earlier in the year, Workato’s Turing release introduced RecipeIQ, machine learning-based next step recommendations. We recommended next steps 67% of the time; users building recipes accept 73% of those recommendations.
  • Enterprise teams and recipe lifecycle enhance collaborative governance: Collaborative governance> brings in new capabilities to enable business teams and IT to work together while ensuring security, transparency, and governance around integrations. Combined with Transparent UX and Zero DevOps, collaborative governance defines Workato’s Digital Native Architecture (DNA).
  • Secure, private interactions with bots and Verified User Access: Recipes can, at runtime (based on rules/logic), select the appropriate app “authorization” to execute actions. This patent pending feature is at the heart of use cases like approval workflows; it also serves as the basis for Workato’s Workbot, Intelligent RPA, and BPO functionality. This is a critical capability in shared or multi-user environments (like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and BPO use cases) where each user’s activity must be private, independently tracked, and in line with that user’s app authorizations.
  • Messaging services and on-prem SDK: Larger enterprises using messaging services can expand their on-prem connectivity with our new connectors for JMS and Kafka. Our Salesforce connector now includes access to platform events; Salesforce platform event APIs enable near real-time workflows for businesses.
  • Extreme transaction processing via Workato Collections: Workato Collections is an in-memory relational database that can be used in recipes to perform complex data manipulation and aggregation operations using standard SQL. This is exceptionally powerful when correlating and transforming data collected from heterogeneous sources and improves the throughput of the recipe when processing very large volumes of data for initial loads or data warehouse.

The Innovative Versatility of Intelligent Automation

Even more exciting to watch has been the creativity and innovation that our customers exhibit by exploiting the power and versatility of our platform and its growing capabilities.

Typical Enterprise Application and Data Integration deployments include:

  • The top carrier-neutral data center operator built integrations across HR (Workday), ERP (SAP Hana), CPQ (Apttus), billing database, and other systems.
  • A top security software platform performs daily loads of accounts, contacts, opportunities, cases, and emails from Salesforce to a data warehouse on SQL server.
  • The # 1 energy infrastructure company is migrating HR data and processes to the cloud and integrating SAP/Workday with 70 custom apps covering different areas of HR.
  • A large solar energy financing company eliminated bottlenecks is resolving customer issue reported in Zendesk while increasing transparency internally and for customers.
  • A global information services company operating in over 20 countries solved data quality and consistency issues across multiple Salesforce instances with multi-way syncs.
  • The leading provider of cloud-based digital workplace solutions for global enterprises deployed 50+ integrations across their organization, including finance (Netsuite), support (Salesforce), engineering (Atlassian), and IT (ServiceNow) systems.

Customers often start with traditional enterprise app and data integration use cases, but most go far beyond that to deploy uses case involving process automation, API management, data hub/customer 360, intelligent RPA, B2B/business process outsourcing, bot based workflows, and IoT Integrations. Some of these use cases include:

Process Automation

  • The leading cloud-based spend management vendor streamlined communications, alerts, incident management, and end-to-end troubleshooting between their cloud operations and their engineering teams.
  • Digital marketing pros at a large consumer electronics company automated lead nurture across multiple channels and created a 360° view of leads in Zendesk, improving lead conversion by 40% and driving higher revenues.
  • A $6B converged infrastructure appliances company created a unified security incident response management to quickly counteract threats like phishing, ransomware, exfiltration, and lost devices while making better decisions during live security incidents.

Workflow Management

  • Automated customer onboarding workflows at a large UK based accounting firm across sales (Salesforce), contract management (DocuSign), and cloud storage provisioning (Box).
  • End-to-end employee onboarding and off-boarding following M&A at the #1 wireless communications infrastructure company across document collection, apps (Workday), SSO (Okta, Active Directory) services (ServiceNow) and facilities access by job function, enabling approvals from Slack and email to significantly cut down on the time, cost, and errors in employee onboarding.
  • The top enterprise collaboration company automated their mostly manual, twelve-step partner onboarding process across DocuSign, Salesforce, and Box. This integration project took them less time than what it took to onboard one partner earlier.

B2B/API Management

  • The field services team at the #1 bakery cafe scaled their operations by enabling vendors and service providers to receive and update service requests when disruptions are detected at cafe locations all over the nation.
  • A leading procurement, payables, and supplier management company enabled thousands of sellers to sync invoice, billing, customer, and account data with the seller’s accounting systems (Quickbooks, Netsuite, Intacct). Using Workato API management and recipe templates, the customer was able to extend the value of their B2B offering.

Bots and bot driven workflows

  • The IT team at one of the largest consumer electronics companies scaled the delivery of business insights with Workbot and an NLG engine that delivers humanized narrative on insights on data fetched from a data virtualization layer (Denodo) and cloud data warehouse (Snowflake). They are extending this to include a voice platform like Alexa.
  • The sales team at the #1 enterprise messaging platform company built a deal-desk bot in Slack for sales reps to update opportunity details (in Salesforce) and get faster approvals on time-sensitive deals.
  • The R&D and engineering teams at the leading provider of enterprise cyber threat intelligence streamlined the process of automatically querying a proprietary knowledge base and posting the results on chat apps (Slack, HipChat) based on ticket (JIRA) metadata. The automation increased employee productivity and improved the response times to critical issues.

Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

  • Using intelligent RPA, the HR teams at the world’s #1 retailer is able to determine optimum wages and benefits for 2.3 million employees across 5300+ stores. The RPA process collects data from multiple sources, curates the data using image analysis and voice transcription and loads the collated wage data into a data warehouse (MS SqlServer) for HR analytics.
  • The leading American multinational corporation for CAD software developed an RPA solution to validate employee payroll data (Workday) by executing a series of highly complex and repetitive quality checks, as well as to cleanse and enrich the data before loading it into an SAP instance. The team was able to deliver high-quality payroll data more reliably and consistently in much shorter time.  
  • The top enterprise cloud storage company built an RPA solution to digitize the process supporting contract negotiation and obligation management. Capturing the contract metadata from upstream systems (JIRA, Coupa), enriching the contract data (Box, Salesforce), and making it searchable and reportable led to shorter contract negotiation cycles and lower operational costs.  

IoT Integrations

  • The logistics operations team at the world’s largest retailer improved the efficiency of distribution pipelines by dramatically increasing the uptime of critical printers, scanners, and handheld devices. By integrating with Zebra barcode printer APIs using Workato’s SDK, the team could monitor the health and resolve issues faster for 84000 devices at 42 distribution centers.
  • A top national restaurant chain was able to report and resolve issues for iPad-based ordering kiosks 10x faster by dispatching technicians or contacting vendors instantaneously. The automation monitored 20,000 iPad based ordering Kiosks at 3000 locations and proactively reported errors, Fully-functioning kiosks mean shorter wait times, happier customers, more orders and revenue.

Beyond these individual use cases, it has been gratifying to take a step back and look at the impact that intelligent automation is having at a macro level across our customers’ businesses. We can’t wait to take this growth to the next level in 2018!

The Transformative Power of Intelligent Automation

Let’s take a closer look at how leading companies across these verticals are growing their usage of Workato at almost viral rates, and how intelligent automation is enabling non-technical, lines-of-business users to realize their integration goals.

Company: #1 messaging platform

Daily Active User (DAU) Personas: 2 specialists, 4 ad-hoc tech users, and 2 ad-hoc non-tech integrators

Use Cases (246 active integrations):

  • Cloud: Salesforce, Workday, Netsuite, Coupa
  • On-Prem: Slack Product APIs, custom HR app
  • Digital Worker/Mobile: Slack Bots (Process)
  • Data: ExactTarget batch integration (file-based)
  • B2B: Banking API

Company: #1 bakery cafe chain

Daily Active User (DAU) Personas:  2 ad-hoc non-tech users and 3 citizen integrators

Use Cases (188 Active Integrations)

  • Cloud: ServiceNow, Workday, JIRA
  • On-Prem: MdM (Data)
  • Digital Worker/Mobile: Smartphone ticket submission
  • Things: Splunk alerts
  • B2B: Support outsourcers

Company: #1 PaaS product for rapid app development; 6000+ customers. Formerly a division of Intuit.

DAU (daily active user) personas: 2 ad-hoc technical users (an implementation partner and a technical Sales Ops user)

Use cases (334 Active Integrations)

  • Cloud: Box, DocuSign, GitHub, Salesforce, Netsuite, Marketo, JIRA, SurveyMonkey
  • On-Prem: Databases
  • Process: Business process automation across marketing and finance

Company: #1 cloud-based project/time tracking product for SMBs

DAU (daily active user) personas: 1 ad-hoc technical (Operations)

Use cases (265 Active Integrations):

  • Cloud: Salesforce, ServiceNow, Concur, QuickBooks
  • On-Prem: JIRA, Files
  • Process: Project cost tracking and customer service automation

Company: Leader in eProcurement; $1.8B market cap

DAU (daily active user) personas: 4 ad-hoc technical

Use cases:

  • Cloud: Salesforce, DocuSign, New Relic, GitHub, JIRA, VictorOps, Outlook, HipChat, Confluence
  • Process: DevOps automation

To Our Partners

Intelligent automation is clearly a team sport so I would love to give a shout out to all of Workato’s amazing partners.

First of all, both Salesforce Ventures and Workday Ventures made strategic investments in Workato. Having the backing of the #1 and #2 of the SaaS world is a clear testament that Workato caters extremely well to their key audience: application admins. In the words of one Salesforce admin, “Workato is just like Salesforce Process Builder, but it goes across all my applications.” The point is that Workato feels familiar to app admins. With Workato, they can extend their company’s investment in the app without the help of additional integration specialists. The same benefit has helped develop partnerships with a long list of SaaS companies including ServiceNow, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Okta, Zendesk, Marketo, Apttus, Box, Atlassian, and Coupa.

2018

We are entering 2018 with accelerating year-over-year growth in deployments (4x) and opportunities (8x). We certainly expect the trends towards business self-service, intelligent automation, AI, ML, bots, and innovative uses of integration to continue to gather speed this year. While in 2017 the early adopters of intelligent automation set the stage in verticals such as tech, retail, eCommerce, and financial services, we are already seeing a broader awareness and a more concrete understanding of intelligent automation platforms and how business and IT can together use it to drive the transformation train. We cannot wait to learn from this journey with our customers and partners—and to be better for it.

Ready to experience intelligent automation for yourself? Speak with one of our integration advisors today >

  • Ralf Wilden

    Vijay. Your sharing got me present to the convergence of the various technical advancements. And the potential of the synergy getting them connected. And not necessarily by integration buffs but by Line-of-Business teams. Ralf@intentsys.net (Workato Partner)