Giovanni Stone, vice president of advanced automation with Daifuku, explains the concept of citizen automation, and how it benefits the development of applications for promoting supply chain collaboration and digitization.
Citizen automation is another term for low code and no code development platforms. It allows for the dispersal of development tasks across multiple individuals within an organization performing supply chain roles. They can create apps for the collection of large amounts of data, rather than going through traditional I.T. channels. In the process, they can build frameworks and collect data more quickly. “What we’ve learned this year,” says Stone, “is that the faster we can do things, the better.”
The use of citizen automation could potentially rankle I.T. departments that fear the loss of control over tech implementations. There’s a risk of creating “shadow I.T.,” Stone acknowledges, while stressing that the concept doesn’t involve replacement of full business applications. Instead, it’s used for automating basic manual processes like spreadsheets.
Citizen automation requires minimal expertise in app development. All that’s needed is an understanding of the basic principles of a database, says Stone. “It’s all about setting up relationships, making sure the data flows back and forth.” Most importantly, it promotes the creation of one consolidated database from which all functions can draw. “Everyone’s using the same process to do something,” he says, “and making sure they all have the same data.”
The technique promotes the digitization of supply chains by speeding up the automation of manual processes and promoting collaboration, not just among the individuals of an organization, but with outside supply chain partners as well. “We extend it to our customers — allow them to see the real-time status of projects,” Stone says. At the same time, the setup involves tight security controls.
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