Why automation is ‘critical’ for businesses to survive

13 Aug 2021

Daniel Meyer. Image: Camunda

Camunda’s CTO discusses the importance of automation as well as the dangers around low-code platforms and unmaintained software.

Daniel Meyer is the chief technology officer of Camunda, an open-source workflow and decision automation platform founded in Berlin.

Meyer joined the company in 2010, serving first as a developer and consultant. He holds a master’s degree in computer science and is responsible for end-to-end development and maintenance of Camunda’s products.

‘Business processes are what determines how well an organisation runs’

Describe your role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

Camunda is an enterprise software company providing software for process automation. As chief technology officer, I run the products department, which includes software engineering, product management, customer support among other functions.

Together with my leadership team, I set the product and tech strategy. We embrace agile software development methodologies, continuous integration and deployment.

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

We just finished up one of the most important projects in our history – the launch of Camunda Cloud. It’s a major step forward for us and for customers looking to build applications entirely in the cloud.

It solves the number-one problem organisations face today – controlling the chaos that surrounds them. As development moves to the cloud, teams are struggling to automate processes across multiple systems, people and devices in an end-to-end manner. They’re looking for cloud-based process automation tools that provide the simplicity and efficiency they expect and the scaling capabilities that they need.

Camunda Cloud is based on the ISO standard BPMN, and it includes a horizontally scalable workflow engine along with built-in components for collaborative modelling, operations and analytics.

It puts development teams at centre stage, giving them instant access to enterprise-class cloud process automation, helping them save time and resources when building mission-critical applications.

How big is your team?

My team is just north of 100 employees who are distributed across a handful of continents. While most of our team members are based in Europe and the US, we do have a handful of team members located in APAC.

At Camunda, we do not look to outsource any of our job functions to third parties to perform tasks, handle operations or provide services for our company. We value our ability to truly own our core technology and that comes from fostering a culture centred around internal collaboration and innovation.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

To truly transform their business, companies need to reinvent how they operate. They need to do a better job organising interactions between people, systems and devices, provide better experiences for all stakeholders across channels, and streamline activities to maximise efficiencies.

Business processes are what determines how well an organisation runs. Camunda’s process automation software gives organisations the ability to view processes holistically and automate them to their fullest extent, no matter what they entail and where they may be, to lay the foundation for a new digital enterprise.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

More and more companies are fearing ‘death by Amazon’. Amazon, of course, is dominating the retail space, but the trend is bigger than that. Amazon has figured out two things: how to deliver digital customer experiences and how to effectively use automation. As a result of that, companies across industries have to figure out automation – in particular, process automation – to compete. We have to figure it out or we’ll die.

Unfortunately, what we’re seeing out there is that process automation is often being done with low-code development platforms. These are platforms that allow you to write processes without having to write code. That sounds really promising at first – that it will make companies faster. The reality is this is not working out.

Low-code platforms prevent enterprises from using the best weapons they have to create process automation – developers. Low-code platforms severely limit software developers. Low-code might work for some applications, but it certainly doesn’t work for something as critical as competing with Amazon’s customer experience.

At Camunda we have a different approach. We try to meet developers in their comfort zone and allow them to automate processes within their familiar environments. Developers feel comfortable writing code. Doing process automation effectively is critical to delivering positive customer experience, and unleashing developers to perform to their true potential is the best way to make this happen.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

As organisations across all industries continue to accelerate their digital transformation processes and adopt new technologies, it’s more important than ever that we address the security requirements needed to ensure that the massive amounts of data we’re generating daily remain protected. To do this, we must prioritise taking a holistic approach to our security posture.

This starts with designing secure software and architecture to accommodate the modern world. At the earliest stages of design, teams must implement proper security controls into their IT systems to protect access, ownership and confidentiality of the data used, processed and stored in those systems. But it doesn’t stop there.

Unmaintained software is the biggest risk to an organisation. Out-of-date systems likely won’t be able to withstand new and increasingly complex cyberattack methods, which means the data that is stored, used and shared in these systems will more likely be vulnerable to data breaches.

To prevent this, it’s crucial that businesses also include regular, independent security tests of production software and ensure that they continuously update their IT environments and libraries.

By combining these steps, organisations are able to address the potential security risks involved in their IT environments right out of the gate and regularly monitor for and get in front of any security lapses in their systems before their data is put at risk.

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