An IFTTT-style Programmable Enterprise
The concept of DIY application programming, whereby consumers customize their everyday interactions with technology around them, is catching on fast. Tools like Tasker have started allowing programmable customization for Android, but IFTTT has taken it to a completely new level. The approach is straightforward — If This Then That – no coding skills are required. Users simply click a “recipe” button and create simple connections between products and apps to automate tasks.
What can you do? My favorite is to turn on the coffee machine and start brewing a cuppa when Fitbit recognizes when one just woke up, but here are a few other mainstream use cases:
“Rain tomorrow? Get a mobile notification, Get notified when the International Space Station passes overhead, If it’s 6:00 pm then turn on the lights, Remember everyone you meet in Evernote.
IFTTT is a simple and extremely user-friendly idea that revolutionized how people, not just power users, customize their interactions with technology and benefit from how it can intersect with their everyday life.
Interestingly, enterprise software companies are beginning to recognize the potential of platforms like IFTTT and are working on similar technology that’s relevant to the corporate environment. However, the IFTTT concept is focused on the consumer market and the technology is somewhat limited in what “then” can accomplish with the data.
In one of the early attempts, Microsoft launched a product called Flow for managing workflows. Enterprise users can create connectors and automate workflows between apps and services to receive notifications, synchronize files and such. For example, get a push notification when you receive an email from your boss or email new files in Dropbox to a mailing list in Google Sheets.
It’s a good start, but there are many opportunities ahead for the enterprise.
Let us take simple examples that would be great in any enterprise. For example, an enterprise knows an internal rogue employee is the source for some security issues. From the firewall logs, the security team knows an external server downloaded data, but the rogue employee has hidden their tracks well. The only way to find out who did it is by searching each endpoint’s events log across the enterprise to search for the inbound connection, and find the person who was logged in at that time on the endpoint. But what if one could write a quick recipe that will search through each endpoint’s event log and inbound connection from the IP address of the external server? IF a record is found, THEN find the person who was logged in at that time.
Here is another one. One of the challenges in any company is that each salesperson is different – some are diligent in updating CRM with every interaction with a customer, but unfortunately many are not. I’d love to have a plug-in into the enterprise VoIP system or the salesperson’s smartphone that will notify when a call is made. IF the called phone number matches a customer’s phone number, THEN send a notification to the salesperson and the salesperson can respond with a voice message as an update. IF the voice message is received, THEN the system automatically updates the CRM record. Doing this today will require writing a complex application.
These are two examples I came up with in a few minutes. Programmability of such interactions in the hands of an enterprise will open doors for numerous other productivity tools on-demand. But these are early days in this field and not much thought has gone into solving such problems. Today’s simple IFTTT concepts need to be married with programmable agents across several enterprise endpoints that expose a variety of APIs. We will also need a simple human interaction interface that can be used to capture inputs from people. And, we will need some level of storage across complex interactions.
At Accelerite, we are beginning to build such customizable, yet easy to use systems. Sentient is evolving to enable enterprises to secure their endpoints, servers and connected devices in extremely customizable fashion by finding almost anything, analyzing results and taking custom corrective or follow-up actions. We are building it so that Sentient can be the enterprise’s go-to tool for any security issue for years to come.
While we are focusing on security and the industry continues evolving to provide extreme programmability to other aspects of an enterprise, we look forward to being part of this next exciting phase of enterprise software.