Technology makes everything faster and easier by automating human behavior and experience. People don’t grab dictionaries, life is defined by Google searches. Automating the things we do every day simplifies our hectic lives. Imagine a digital experience that could automate your daily workload, reducing the amount of time and effort necessary to get your job done! A world where you, not static legacy software, could be in charge of your workplace systems experience. What if you could interact with all of the systems you use daily from a single user interface, again making your job easier. Calgon take me away!
Automating software development makes software development faster and easier too. However, the true benefit of software automation can be felt across the entire enterprise. From IT departments escaping legacy debt and backlog, to lines of business getting the apps they need, to CEOs & stakeholders celebrating ROI, to happy satisfied customers. The power to automate development lies in the land of functional components known as microservices. Microservices are a software architecture using small, decoupled processes that communicate through different application programming interfaces or APIs. There are many advantages to using microservices in software architecture, including increased agility and scalability. Enterprises have a greater ability to meet the rapid and evolving business line and market demands by leveraging a microservice architecture. Microservices enable additional enterprise agility by capturing both common and business specific functions. They allow enterprise to move from rigid legacy solutions to a series of nimble services. They typically function independently from one another, as discrete processes, and through their combination, allow the rapid creation of tailored solutions to meet exacting business needs.
Using microservices, enterprises can create a library of reusable capability. It is important to be able to distinguish between what is common across the business, and what is specific to an operational need. The more common the functionality, the greater the re-use. This reduces the number of microservices required and managed. The most important step in creating the microservice library is in the analysis of the business requirements within the overall business strategy. Devoting time to this analysis will reduce the burden of maintenance, and increase the return on investment made in delivering an agile enterprise. The library creation of microservices can be done in an iterative – or repetitive manner.
Let’s take a look at how the microservice architecture can successfully provide an immediate, enterprise-grade, scalable solution for a large insurance company where multiple business line users are demanding IT create an efficient yet tailored system for auditing and monitoring insurance claims. The system needs to have common and specific functions, needs to be equipped with artificial intelligence, and have the ability to rapidly scale as the insurance company opens its new global offices.
The process is quick and easy. Using the microservices architecture as a guide, the IT department creates integrated sets of smart services to construct a library of components that have different functionality, utilize data from different sources, and explore, manage and visualize different fields of data. The microservices can be extensions of the systems used today like SAP, Salesforce or Oracle, or they can consist of new functionality to meet an immediate need. There is literally no limit to what type of microservice that can be created. Ideally, for our example, the microservices should connect with multiple sources of legacy and disparate data, have both inputs and outputs, and be “aware” of each other and the hierarchy between them. IT creates and governs these smart services to ensure compliance with corporate solutions, data and security policies. If a business is made up of numerous systems and processes, it can take a great deal of time to create a comprehensive set of microservices to meet the enterprise’s complete set of needs. If, however, the IT department uses a no-code development environment, such as Crowd Machine’s Crowd App Studio, the functional components can be created significantly faster. To achieve true agility, the enterprise needs to empower those microservices that are closest to the business line requirements, while at the same time, ensure the integrity of data and the robustness of solutions. As further discussed below, the line of business users at the insurance company will self-serve upon the microservices by snapping together the units of function, automatically creating the exact solution required.
Enter our insurance company’s library of microservices – which can be as vast as desired and perform any function required. For purposes of the claims audit and monitoring example, our library will include the following microservices, conveniently labelled M1 to M8.
- M1: the “audit management” component with functionality to create new audits, as well as search for and edit existing audits. The component has data fields that include, but are not limited to: auditor name, audit ID number, audit date, and audit status, all drawn from an external data source.
- M2: the “update audit” component with the functionality to update audit information including audit outcome, reason for the result, date closed, audit notes; uses data that is stored locally and externally.
- M3: the “chart” component whose function is to visually produce and display colorful data related to the audit.
- M4: the “document repository” component that pulls externally stored documents for the audit, downloads, and displays the documents with the document name, type, date uploaded and by whom. This component is context aware and can go back to the search field if M1 did not find the audit.
- M5: the “add or edit” claim information function that can link to the original claims information in the system, and includes data fields such as claim number, group, type of claim, amount charged, paid and provider.
- M6: the “audit finding” component whose function is to add or edit the audit findings, with multiple fields of data.
- M7: the “discussion board” component whose function is to create a visual dialogue board for line of business users to communicate regarding the claim, to add and respond to notes, and to send email notifications to other team members.
- M8: the “smart component” – an API to call AI into the audit for fraud detection.
Next, it’s time to play Legos – the business line users quickly and easily assemble custom flexible solutions by snapping together the intelligent and compliant microservices. Recall, the smart services allow the users to view, input and manage data across multiple systems. There are many different types of microservices in an application and each type performs a specific task. Claims manager Sarah needs to visualize and manage all data related to the entire claims process and can immediately create a sophisticated application meeting her needs by snapping together function. Sarah snaps together M1 to search for claims, M3 to produce a colorful chart to visually manage data, M4 to upload needed documents, M6 to gather audit finding detail, M7 to engage the visual dialogue board to communicate with other team members. Rami, Sarah’s assistant only needs to create new audits, update and edit them, so he snaps together M1, M2 and M5 rendering a compliant app for his needs. Cory in claims payment needs to search for audits, access findings, and access the document repository, so he will snap together M1, M6 and M4. James in the fraud department uses an AI claims chatbot to review the claim, verify policy details and pass it through a fraud detection algorithm before sending wire instructions to the bank to pay for the claim settlement. Whomever needs to communicate with Sarah will snap on M7 discussion board.
This digital experience automates Sarah, Rami, Cory & James’ daily workload and reduces the amount of time and effort necessary to get their jobs done, in this case, the insurance claims audit. The line of business is completely in charge of his or her workplace systems experience and can interact with and pull data from all of the systems used on a daily basis, including disparate sources of data, all from a single user interface. An open flexible software development architecture is vital to future-proof your business as market demands exert constant pressure to stay ahead of the competition. Crowd Machine’s no-code platform is specifically designed to deliver upon the need for rapid continuous digital transformation. Embracing a “microservices architecture,” Crowd Machine empowers enterprise to deliver sophisticated mission-critical solutions with meaningful outcomes, at unprecedented speed.