From Complex Code to Low-Code: The Benefits of a Data Automation Platform

For insurance organizations with legacy transactional and in-house systems operating largely in silos, a data automation platform can deliver all the capabilities typically found in ESBs, data integration tools, B2B gateways, managed file transfer products, and API management platforms.

(Image credit: Joshua Sortino/Unsplach.)

Until about ten years ago, the common approach to integrating and automating applications was creating complex code understandable by only the most experienced developers. Thus, even deployment of the simplest application required development time and the creation of new code. To further complicate the issue, it was typical for each integration to require point-to-point development. The term “spaghetti integration” describes the results of this situation perfectly.

Perhaps needless to say, but spaghetti integration and the tangles of integration code left behind made automation difficult. Then, in 2011, Gartner research exposed a new concept for how solutions could work together, integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS). iPaaS provided a new approach to solving the industry’s automation challenge by allowing organizations to reduce the clutter of complex integration code and integrate with a growing number of cloud solutions, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

The insurance industry’s evolution from complex code to low-code has been a long time coming. As insurance organizations figured out ways to move past legacy integration approaches to new architectures and low-code solutions, data integration and automation worked behind the scenes to make it all possible.

Legacy Integration Approaches

Batch file updates and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) were the initial integration tactics, but multiple application environments made such approaches unwieldy. Soon, batch and FTP were replaced by message-oriented middleware (MOM) which was used for sending and receiving messages between distributed systems. The disadvantage with MOM was that it added an additional service, the message broker, which made maintaining the system more complex. Also, message-based communication is essentially asynchronous whereas many applications require synchronous communications. As a result, the enterprise service bus (ESB) became popular because its hub-and-spoke architecture supported synchronous communications. However, only larger businesses could afford the costs and infrastructure to operate it.

‍Then came service-oriented architecture (SOA) which enabled systems to be architected so that integration was independent of product, technology, or vendor. The problem was it required skills in coding, such as learning .NET, and could become difficult to manage as the number of services increased. With the growth of cloud applications after 2000, and the advent of APIs that came with it, the integration of new platforms and legacy applications continued to be a very complex undertaking. This lead to new integration solutions that could straddle the multiplicity of on-premise, cloud, data storage and API frameworks, and reduce the burden of integration coding.

Growth of Low Code

Insurance IT professionals today are likely faced with an internal environment that utilizes many of the above mentioned “solutions.” The challenge lies in integrating all of the previous efforts under one “umbrella,” so to speak. An integration platform is a low-code solution that enables ease of use and fast implementation at a lower cost. These platforms allow organizations to create applications through a graphical user interface (UI), instead of traditional programming, and so reduces hand-coding to a minimum, standardizes practices, and improves governance.

Low-code platforms are quickly becoming the standard for both automation and integration. As impacts of the global pandemic and a hardening economy persist, businesses will continue to look for low-code applications to address data challenges and support remote work across multiple systems and workflows. The focus on customer-centric experiences will also help drive the growth of integration and improved time to value, made easier with low-code solutions.

Low-Code Data Integration and Automation

The pandemic, and the proliferation of remote work, demonstrated the importance of getting data to people who need it at the time and place where it can have the most positive impact. A low-code automation platform offers an agile approach to integration and automation, allowing developers to consolidate and synchronize various data sources much more quickly than legacy integration solutions.‍

Automation is often an after-thought of a development project. But research by Gartner pointed out  that integration and automation work often account for 50 percent of the time and cost of building a digital platform; therefore, greater investments should be made into data automation today to save time and money in the future.

By opting for an automation platform that has low-code capabilities, instead of traditional coding, businesses get several benefits, including the ability to focus on the outcome and get from idea to solution faster. Additionally, it most often results in a simplification of the company’s IT architecture, decreases the integration workload of the IT department, lowers the skills barrier for developers, and reduces maintenance on integration through standardization of connections and APIs. Further, the implementation of a low-code automation platform allows insurance organizations to establish and maintain integration standards while also improving governance.

Data Automation Enables Low-Code in Insurance

For insurance organizations with legacy transactional and in-house systems operating largely in silos, a data automation platform can deliver all the capabilities typically found in ESBs, data integration tools, B2B gateways, managed file transfer products, and API management platforms. And, using pre-built connectors, data mappings, and transformation rules, data automation platforms put drag-and-drop functionality in the hands of IT staff in critical need of faster integration flow development approaches. Ultimately, with a data automation platform in place, the automated connection of applications across different environments encourages the re-use of common integration patterns and provides a platform on which integration teams can collaborate.

Demystifying Integration Complexity

Jamie Peers // Jamie Peers is Vice President, Business Development and Alliances at Synatic, which offers an all-in-one Data Integration Hub (DIH) that includes ETL, Integration, Data Warehousing, API Management, and a wide range of pre-built Connectors and Solutions that allow organizations to consolidate, manipulate and orchestrate data. Peers has 20 years’ experience in the SaaS industry domestically and internationally. He can be reached for further information or comment at jpeers@synatic.com.

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