Why hasn’t workflow automation worked for Corporate IT teams?

Jay Srinivasan

The promise of automation

Automation in IT work has been a long-sought-after goal, with endeavors stretching back decades.  The concept is inherently attractive – imagine  a world where tedious, repetitive tasks are handled automatically, where workflows glide smoothly without human intervention. The appeal is obvious, and making a business case based on ROI seems almost too easy. Increasing adoption of automation tools by IT teams is a universally accepted conclusion by experts.

At Stitchflow, we primarily serve Cloud Native Corporate IT teams, and their preferred approach to Corporate IT automation is through iPaaS (Integration platform as a service) tools like Okta Workflows, BetterCloud, Workato and Dell Boomi.  Despite these tools being expensive (price points ranging from $5-20/employee/month), every IT team has at least one of these. Automation, efficiency, clear ROI, what’s not to like?

The reality

The problem is that the reality of IT automation falls well short of the promise.

The Stitchflow team was previously the team behind atSpoke, an ML enabled IT Service Management tool, and we had the opportunity to see aggregated automation data across tens of millions of IT tickets. The average automation rate for IT teams that used atSpoke was only 5-10% of their work! Less than 10%!

The atSpoke data isn’t the only data set that’s painting a picture of ineffective automation. We interviewed over 100 IT managers over the last year about the efficacy of their automation, and the vast majority said automation delivered at best a 10% reduction in their work.

The consensus is that automation at best handles the "low hanging fruit" —tasks that are easiest to automate but often not the most impactful, thus offering limited actual time savings.

Of course, there are exceptions. One of the IT leaders the Stitchflow team works with has nearly 1000 workflows set up in Okta, and is able to manage IT operations for a 1500 person company with an IT staff of 3 people. But such examples are more the exception than the rule. It’s far more common to have zero automation workflows versus thousands.

So why is there such a large gap between the promise of IT automation and the reality?

What makes automation hard

We’ve identified five reasons for the ineffectiveness of existing IT workflow automation solutions:


Factoring in all of these points is why automation has been limited and primarily focused on unchanging, low hanging fruit.

Visibility as a route to more effective automation

At Stitchflow, we’ve been thinking hard about how to make automation more effective, and we have a different point of view as to how to approach the problem. We think the best way to get more effective at automation is to actually start somewhere else - visibility. First, have a clear picture of everything about your IT environment and identify everything that needs to be fixed. Once you know that, you can more easily plan what needs to be automated, the nuances of the business processes involved as well as any exceptions you need to account for. Starting visibility first will make automation easier and more effective.

And that’s exactly what Stitchflow does. Stitchflow is purpose built to give IT teams 360 visibility across their entire environment.

Stitchflow connects to over 50 IT tools and automatically applies over 100 checks across user access, drift in enrollment between groups, apps and channels, device health, compliance checks, and unused apps. Stitchflow identifies exactly what needs to be fixed, enables remediation in bulk, and then automates maintenance so gaps are addressed as soon as they are found.

20+ IT teams from incredible companies have been using Stitchflow since May and are seeing daily value—hours saved every week in spreadsheets, quick identification of gaps in their environments, and the ability to rectify painful issues in bulk.

Stitchflow’s free trial is commitment-light, requiring no set-up; All you have to do is authenticate into your tools and Stitchflow generates a gap analysis. You can instantly address issues and have confidence in the continuous correctness of your IT environment going forward. You can get a demo or try out Stitchflow by signing up below!