How can CIOs build an effective strategy for iPaaS?

strategy for iPaaS

Digital transformation can be distilled into two parallel decisions: determining how to automate tasks throughout the enterprise, and prioritizing which tasks are worth automating in the first place. And while these problems are more complex than ever, the reward for solving them has never been greater. 

Several kinds of technologies have evolved to solve the challenges of enterprise automation. Each method offers different kinds of users many different ways to perform different types of automations. The sheer number of possibilities within iPaaS (integration platform as a service) has prevented many CIOs from developing a clear strategy to pursue their goals.

We’ll examine the challenges that prevent many automation initiatives from getting off the ground more closely. We’ll then introduce three pillars of an effective iPaaS strategy and show how global brands use Workato—the leader in enterprise automation—to accelerate their digital transformation.

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The iPaaS dilemma

Over the past few years, there has been an explosion in the growth of modern SaaS, micro-services, IoT, artificial intelligence, and machine learning technologies. This exponential increase in applications and devices has resulted in much greater complexity, splintered data silos, and a huge variety of use cases—forcing CIOs to become much more involved in all aspects of the business, including finance and HR. 

At the same time, many CIOs want to achieve the same process excellence as Amazon, Netflix, and Google through automation. CIOs want to deliver the best experience for their customers while simultaneously improving up-time. They need a strategy without tradeoffs. But unfortunately, after a few pilot projects or obvious automations seen as low-hanging fruit get implemented, many businesses get stuck. They find themselves in a digital transformation rut, since they can’t move forward without taking time away from other business-critical tasks. Meanwhile, the backlog of ideas for possible automations continues to grow, with no insight into which ones might be duds, and which ones could be breakthroughs. 

What’s the best way to integrate data from all these sources and deliver automations with real business value?

Challenges with existing technologies: iPaaS, iSaaS, and RPA

Many of today’s automation technologies are limited to solving very specific challenges within a narrow range of use cases. This is one of the main reasons many automation initiatives sputter and die before they can deliver on their promises. Let’s take a quick look at the tradeoffs baked into each of these technologies:

Traditional iPaaS (integration platform as a service)

  • Pro: lots of computing power, built to serve the needs of IT
  • Con: more complex, harder to operate and automate

iSaaS (API-based integration software as a service)

  • Pro: modern, fast, cloud-native, and easier to operate. Built around APIs
  • Con: lack the power IT requires since they’re primarily focused on the business. Can’t connect to legacy systems

RPA (Robotic Process Automation)

  • Pro: based on UI automations, which makes them great for legacy systems
  • Con: brittle to any changes in UI. Less applicable to modern SaaS apps

Many traditional iPaaS, iSaaS, and RPA systems are focused on the back-end. But successful strategies for digital transformation must address the needs of everyone in the company, including front-end workflows. And while many of these tools are standalone, some are part of app platforms from companies like Salesforce, Workday, and ServiceNow. So, finding out which products are appropriate for your business challenges can be almost as daunting as solving the problems themselves. 

To put all this in perspective, we’ve grouped these automation products into five different categories based on their capabilities and target audience: Task, Application, Process, Data, and Enterprise:

A  breakdown of automation categories

Task automation (Business users): These tools can automate discrete steps within a larger business process, like lead routing or sharing content across social media. Zapier is the most commonly used tool in this category. 

Application automation (Business users): This type of automation is usually performed by workflow products within SaaS platforms. Their users can create automations within these apps and get data from external sources. Examples include Salesforce Process Builder, Workday Journeys, ServiceNow Flow, and Slack Workflow Builder.

Data automation (IT users): These tools allow IT users to create automated workflows across multiple applications for a more unified view of customers, employees, products, and other business information. Automations in this category are often performed by iPaaS products like Mulesoft and Boomi. 

Process automation (Business users): There are two different approaches to process automation: RPA tools like UIPath and Automation Anywhere that are UI-oriented and built to accommodate legacy systems; and API-oriented iSaaS tools like and that can automate cloud applications.

Enterprise automation (Business and IT users): Systems in this category support end-to-end automation across the enterprise, built on a strong foundation of iPaaS.

Companies often face an impossible choice when selecting an automation tool. Ease of use and limited scope? Or perhaps one with powerful capabilities that’s only focused on one part of your business? Fortunately, you don’t have to choose.

Our founding vision was to create an enterprise automation platform that would be versatile and flexible, an intuitive platform built for business users and IT professionals alike. The result is Workato, your key to successful digital transformation.

Enterprise automation and the three pillars of an effective iPaaS strategy

The problem with so many automation products is that they’re not aligned with companies’ digital transformation strategies. When you choose an iPaaS with the right foundation, it becomes much easier to solve major problems that prevent you from achieving your business goals. 

We built Workato on these three pillars: foster innovation, govern collaboratively, and organization-wide extensibility. Here’s why they matter to your iPaaS strategy:

Foster innovation

Challenge: There’s often a chasm between the problems business users want to overcome and IT’s understanding of those problems. If IT has sole responsibility for creating automations that address these challenges, they’ll usually come up short. They don’t work with those systems everyday, which means their understanding of those problems will always be imperfect.

How Workato fosters innovation: Workato democratizes enterprise automation with a human-language UI that anyone can understand, as well as thousands of pre-built automation recipes so your team can get started quickly. In fact, 77% of Workato’s 11,000 customers go live with their first automation in one week, and over 80% of new integrations built in the last year were cloned from existing recipes, significantly cutting down on the time-to-value of enterprise integration projects.

“The old way of doing things (manual work or custom builds) was time and resource-intensive. Just scoping the problem and figuring out data models could take my team 2 months. With Workato, you can build a recipe in about 2 weeks. We reduced our development time to ¼ of what it used to be.”
Pathmaja Dasari Head of Information Systems at Nextdoor

Govern collaboratively

Challenge: CIOs often lack an overall view of all the automations their company is running. When this happens, strengthening your team’s data security turns into a constant game of catch-up. Not only do you lack a holistic view of your team’s automations, but you have little way of knowing how they might affect your systems over time.

How Workato strengthens collaboration without tradeoffs: Workato lets you catch your breath and plan for the future. Fine-tune access to the platform based on roles within your organization. Easily see which automations are in development, which ones have been passed to QA, and which ones are live.

Organization-wide extensibility

Challenge: The potential value of automation is undeniable. But when every department uses their own siloed integration tools, what you get is Frankenstein’s monster. Many automation tools don’t work well together, which means digital transformation is disjointed, security is iffy, and reporting on automations across the organization can devolve into guesswork.

How Workato scales with your digital transformation strategy: We built Workato to remove all the limits holding back your teams, systems, and data as our platform is designed for every user in your company and can solve any automation problem you can dream of.

Longtime integration practitioners are skeptical that Workato can handle all the complexities of enterprise automation under the hood. But as Spherica, one of our consulting partners, recently stated: “We tried and tried, but we couldn’t find anything that Workato couldn’t automate.”

“Without a single platform like Workato, I would not be as confident that we could support a one-billion or two-billion-dollar business.”
Tony Sorensen VP and Head of IT at Five9

Enterprise automation is real and growing fast

In the past couple of years there’s been explosive growth in the integration and automation space. During this period, RPA has been one of the hottest topics in enterprise technology, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 30% since 2017. The market for iPaaS, meanwhile, is also growing at a staggering rate, with projections pointing to a 37% CAGR through 2028.

This market dynamism is reflected in the automation stories we hear from Workato customers.

Since they became a Workato customer in 2017, Slack has deployed over 800 Workato recipes to automate its fast-growing business. This includes the mission critical order-to-cash process, sales process optimizations, data-driven marketing campaigns, and employee experience initiatives. Slack uses Workato to complete application integrations, batch-oriented ETL data integrations, and create Slack bots that integrate with Salesforce, Workday, Coupa, and many other applications.

After timeline failures on past projects using traditional middleware integration tools, Broadcom automated their employee onboarding process across Workday, ServiceNow, and Active Directory in an agile 4-week sprint with Workato. They were then able to fully onboard over 10,000 CA employees upon completing an acquisition. As Broadcom CIO, Andy Nalappan puts it, “If an automation takes more than 4 weeks, the technology is too complicated and won’t be easy to consume at scale.”

Panera Bread reimagined its support system for over 3,000 cafes across North America with innovative Workato automations. These included an IoT-connected helpdesk and AI-driven workflows to parse voicemails into text and create support tickets.

Logistics giant, XPO Logistics, quickly finessed its client onboarding and B2B processes through smart exception processes using Workato.

The enterprise automation market continues its rapid rise, and Workato is defining this market for our customers and beyond:

  • Community: Workato has always been community-powered, with over 70,000 community recipes (discrete workflow automations) added in the last 12 months 
  • Customers:  Workato now has over 110,000 users across more than 11,000 companies, including:
    • #1 credit card brand
    • #1 financial services company,
    • #1 big data company
    • #1 ride sharing company in Asia
    • #1 energy infrastructure company
    • #1 casual restaurant chain
    • #1 arts and crafts company
    • #1 BI/analytics company
    • #1 enterprise collaboration company
    • #1 construction software company
    • #1 E-commerce company in Africa

These customers have anywhere from 80 to over 1000 active workflows of all kinds that they’ve automated across multiple groups in their company.

  • Strategic investors and partners: Salesforce, Workday, and ServiceNow became investors—Workato is the only company the three have invested in together.
  • Team: The Workato family has doubled in size since early 2020, recruiting leaders from Salesforce, Oracle, McKinsey, Apple, Lyft, and Tableau. We are building world-class teams in every department.
  • Product: It’s been an extraordinary period of innovation for our product team as well. We released some huge updates, including a new interface for recipe building, improvements to our ML-driven automation building feature (RecipeIQ), a major update to our API Management platform, a cloud data warehouse solution for Snowflake, the industry’s first business user accessible solution for integrating with SAP, a gen 2 version of our OEM product for ISV, an enterprise automation dashboard capability, an enterprise automation lifecycle management capability, Workbot platform for Microsoft teams, and much more.
  • Technology partnerships: We’re excited about new partnerships with leading tech platforms, including Workday, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Zendesk, Box, Slack, and Coupa, plus a larger number of others adopting our OEM product for ISVs.
  • GTM partnerships: We’ve been developing partnerships with global SIs, including Accenture, Deloitte, PwC, and Persistent as well as many vertical and regional SIs. These ISV and SI partnerships are shaping up to be force multipliers for us in taking our vision of enterprise automation to a larger number of customers.

Thank you to the entire Workato community

Despite all this hype, the most important and humbling aspect is the passion we see from our users. They see the value of Workato, its speed and ease of use, and how much easier it is to achieve their digital transformation goals with our iPaaS.

Workato was built to exceed the always-on expectations of those who are used to SaaS apps. For those whose first experience with an iPaaS is with Workato, it just feels like, “the way automation should be.”

And for people who have used other platforms, the enormous improvements in speed and experience are clear from the start. Seasoned integration users become almost emotional when they discover how Workato has been designed to remove the high-friction pain and complexities of integrations and automations. Other integration platforms may tick some of the same feature checkboxes, but they don’t feel as streamlined and intuitive as Workato. As Slack’s integration architect, Monica Wilkinson, put it: “Workato makes creating automations a joy.”

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