Zoho Looks to Democratize Workflows

    Zoho has made available a Qntrl platform for building and updating workflows using a visual tool that enables end users to create processes with no intervention on the part of an internal IT required.

    Priced starting at $7 per user per month under an annual subscription, Qntrl will now be offered via a separate namesake division of Zoho.

    The goal is to make it simpler for end users to automate business processes made up of repetitive tasks at a time when organizations are investing heavily in digital business transformation initiatives, says Rodrigo Vaca, chief marketing orchestrator for Qntrl.

    The typical business process today spans Microsoft Excel spreadsheets being shared over email. Vaca notes that the opportunity for end users to automate a wide range of business processes is potentially vast. Qntrl represents an effort to empower end users to take direct control over functions that previously would have required IT professionals to implement.

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    The Shifting Role of IT in Workflows

    The workflows being automated using Qntrl may never run at an enterprise scale. However, without some type of platform akin to Qnrtl, it’s safe to say many of them would never have been created in the first place. IT teams are often simply too overloaded to take on those tasks. 

    Moreover, IT professionals are generally not familiar enough with the process being automated to create a workflow for a process using, for example, low-code tools that would be any more efficient than a workflow constructed by an end user.

    The workflows being automated by Qntrl not only span spreadsheets, email, and Zoho applications, but also integrations with third-party platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Workday and others, notes Vaca. The Qntrl platform also surfaces data security and access controls that can be applied by end users as well, he adds.

    Finally, end users can generate reports based on key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be attached to a workflow. 

    Also read: Workflow Management Now Requires New Agile Tools

    Democratizing IT

    It’s going to be up to each organization to determine to what degree they want to democratize IT. However, the days when end users would passively wait for IT teams to make available resources to address their issues are now over. 

    Younger generations of employees are perfectly comfortable employing any set of visual tools they can get their hands on. Many of them now have programming skills they learned in school at their disposal. It shouldn’t require a rocket scientist to automate a simple paper-based process using electronic forms running on tablets.

    It’s not likely that automation tools such as Qntrl will obviate the need for IT professionals any time soon. There are complex business processes that will always require procedural code to automate. Visual tools in the hands of end users, however, should reduce the application development backlog those IT professionals are supposed to build and deploy. 

    Truth be told much of that backlog consists of requests for relatively simple applications that professional developers don’t regard as being especially challenging to code. Many of them would just as soon see those applications be created directly by end users to give professional developers more time to create applications that are more challenging to build and, hopefully, more impactful for the business.

    It’s now just a matter of determining what is the right tool depending on skill level and expertise required for the application task at hand.

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    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.
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