Many organizations have embarked on a digital transformation journey, and are looking to reduce costs, provide additional services to business users, and reduce time to get tasks done. One simple action to help with this is to provide self-service capabilities to business users and let them do the work themselves. That, however, introduces a whole new set of challenges.
What is Self-Service?
A number of years ago I worked for a company that implemented a "Rapid Purchase Program" for IT. The process was simple: employees purchased what they needed, paid with their credit card, then expensed it. It was a simple and effective self-service solution.
Since then, many organizations have wised up that they need some kind of corporate oversight, in order to allow business users to carry out tasks themselves, yet ensure that corporate security is adhered to, regulatory compliance is met, and that there is a full audit and analytics capabilities for the tasks occurring within the company.
The bottom line is don't confuse self-service with shadow IT, or with a "do what you want" culture. Self-service is really about the company providing employees with the tools and services they need in order to be able to do their job effectively.
Why is Self-Service Important?
There are several trends we are seeing in the market, which are helping shape the approach that organizations are taking.
The first trend is a significant increase in the volume of data that organizations want to transfer. The analyst firm IDC estimates that 43 zettabytes (ZB) of data were created in 2019, and only 12% of that volume was original data. This means that 38ZB of data was created through replication and distribution. The enterprise accounts for 52% of the total datasphere, so we estimate that about 20ZB of enterprise data are being replicated, exchanged, and distributed annually.
A second trend is evolving user expectations. Business users often want to innovate and are looking for a secure, compliant and quick to implement a way of sharing data with 3rd parties, including intellectual property (IP), personally identifiable information (PII) or protected health information (PHI). And end consumers interacting with organizations fully expect their data to be consistent and accessible in real-time across multiple touchpoints.
A third trend is the continued squeeze on IT budgets and resources. IT organizations are constantly being asked to do more with less and are looking for ways to optimize their operations.
All of this can result in friction between IT and business users, which sometimes appear to have diverging goals. Providing self-service capabilities will provide additional autonomy to business users in order to do their job effectively, while at the same time reduce the pressure put on IT.
Self-Service in the World of MFT
Managed File Transfer is all about transferring files from one location to another and making the data in the file accessible to applications, business users or consumers, both inside and outside the organizations.
Business users have a need to define what data is to be transferred, how and when it will be transferred, and who is allowed to access it. Self-service capabilities will allow them to do this themselves, rapidly, simply, and with a low risk of error. It will also allow them to view the status of transfers and take appropriate action in case of issues. If they have service level agreements to meet they will be able to get automatic notifications, and view reports on how well those SLAs are met.
By providing a self-service solution, end-users have nothing to install and configure. They simply have access to the service and depending on their rights can create and configure the transfers they need. All of the complexity and risks have been removed.
The benefit to the organization is that they retain overall control of the transfers, can ensure corporate security policies are applied, and can run the necessary reports for regulatory and analytics needs.
To understand this a little better, let's take a real-world consumer example, and look at how bank transfers work. A few years ago, consumers needed to go to a branch of their bank, fill out a form with the transfer details, and give it to a teller who would make the transfer. Today things are very different. Consumers can use their online banking solution to select a template (internal transfer, international transfer, etc.), specify some information (recipient, transfer date and time, amount, regular or one-off transfer, etc..) and make the transfer. There is no need for the consumer to understand how the transfer will be done, nor any of the additional security parameters. And consumers can manage transfer errors, view past transfers, get alerts, and run reports. This is exactly the type of service business users want for their corporate file transfers.
Using AMPLIFY Flow Manager to Meet Self-Service Needs
AMPLIFY Flow Manager was created to address the self-service MFT needs of the organization. IT can preconfigure flow templates, specifying all of the security and configuration information to be used behind the scene. Business users can then create the necessary flows, by selecting the appropriate template and providing the necessary information. The benefit is a standardization of the transfers, rapid implementation by business users, and reduced risk, without the business user needing to know how the transfer will be done. Information used and consumed (for example the list of external partners) can be stored centrally, and re-used across other corporate solutions.
AMPLIFY Flow Manager will also provide self-service capabilities to IT and to integration managers. IT can easily create and publish the necessary templates based on supplied patterns, and integration managers can provide the necessary approvals, and ensure standardization of the different transfers.
AMPLIFY Flow Manager also has a comprehensive API, allowing all of the features and functionality to be reused within other applications, either custom applications for employees or consumers or IT Service Management solutions for the centralized management of all IT components.
Some customers wanting to implement these self-service capabilities are currently on some older file transfer solutions, such as Transfer Interpel or XFB Gateway. These solutions have their own way of configuring the transfers, in a very different way from AMPLIFY Flow Manager. Customers wanting to modernize their MFT infrastructure and move to AMPLIFY Managed File Transfer in order to leverage self-service capabilities can do so, using Transition Portal. Our Transition Portal offering includes everything required to take the existing transfers from the legacy solution, enrich them, convert them to a standard format by applying a template, and create them in AMPLIFY Flow Manager.
Self-service capabilities are a key cornerstone of an enterprise MFT solution, allowing organizations to reduce IT costs while addressing the growing business needs. It ensures business users are autonomous and can work quickly and effectively while reducing the friction between them and IT, and ensuring corporate policies are respected. All of this will help organizations meet their goal of having a performant, secure, and easy to use file transfer solution.