Another Type of Citizen Integrator: The Mobile App User

Loraine Lawson
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Business users want better access to data, and they don’t want IT’s integration backlog holding that up. That’s led to the “citizen integration” trend, with more and more integration and data analytics solutions focusing on the end user — rather than IT.

But there’s another citizen integration issue that doesn’t get as much press: mobile device users.

Computerworld New Zealand points out that a recent Apple partnership highlights the unique reasons to give mobile users more control over integration. Apple is partnering with integration start-up Workato.

As has long been the case with Apple, the partnership bypasses IT to appeal straight to end users, points out Holger Mueller, research analyst, Constellation Research. Mueller says it’s no coincidence that Apple sought help from a start-up rather than traditional integration vendors.

“Workato makes it easy and intuitive for a business end user to connect the relevant business applications they need – in a do it yourself (DIY) fashion,” Mueller said in an April column at Constellation Research. “Workato working with Apple is a major breakthrough for end user empowerment, which in almost all enterprise software categories is the ‘holy grail’ vendors are looking for.”

Workato’s founder and CEO Vijay Tella said the company rethinks app integration beyond the usual goal of connecting two apps.

“People use combinations of apps in unique, infinite ways. It is impossible to predict their usage in terms of features, sequencing, and preferences,” Tella wrote in a Venture Beat column.

Tella was responding to news that Button, a start-up that uses deep linking for integration, had raised $12 million. While deep linking is a smart approach, Tella contended that it didn’t go far enough.

“But such technologies must enable the myriad variations for how people want their apps to work together,” Tella said. “Moreover, to make this work at scale, app users should be empowered to link apps themselves. Otherwise the promise of interoperable mobile apps will remain an elusive one for most users.”

Workato purports to do this by providing integration “recipes” to business users. Like many cloud-based vendors, it’s an approach that relies in part on the community to grow the integration options. The idea is to address two pain points: Integrating with enterprise systems, but also integrating between mobile apps themselves.

“Workato is a knowledge bank of recipes: custom connections between apps,” the vendor’s first blog post explains. “Integration is now do-it-yourself so that you—without IT—can automate work across your apps. Recipes are simple, yet powerful, and easily adaptable to your business.”

It’s not hard to see how that fits in with Apple’s own approach to technology.

Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.

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