I spoke with Katherine Kostereva four years ago during her company’s user conference. Back then the company she founded was named bpm’online, but today the company is called Creatio and has recently raised $68 million to further build out their no-code low-code platform aimed at helping non-IT people use easy interfaces to automate business processes on their own.
Four years ago we spoke about how 80% of companies had not fully automated their important business processes and the impact that was having on productivity and efficiency. So I was eager to circle back around during a recent LinkedIn Live conversation with Katherine to see where things stand now and how the pandemic might have impacted things.
Below is an edited transcript from a portion of our conversation. Click on the embedded SoundCloud player to hear the full discussion.
A Whole New Automation World
Katherine Kostereva: What I see today on the market, and honestly, I didn’t see a lot of it four years ago when we talked last time is low-code and no-code disruption that is happening on the market. You love talking numbers, I love talking numbers, let’s talk in numbers. 1.7 billion knowledge workers in the world, all of them use at least one piece of software. For example, in the banking industry, one knowledge worker would use at least 10 pieces of software. So the demand for software apps is huge. And now the number is 500 million apps to be built within the coming few years.
The question is, how can we satisfy this demand? And low-code, no-code is the answer to this question because in Creatio and many other of our peers in the industry, we believe that low-code, no-code will reshape the market and actually give tools to knowledge workers rather than to IT experts to automate their processes. So thanks to this technology, the penetration of business process automation and software apps is going to be a much, much higher within the coming years. We’re all going to see that.
Small Business Trends: So the answer to the lack of process automation is having these low-code platforms help regular folks be able to do it without having to go get help from IT folks?
Katherine Kostereva: That’s what we see every day. That’s what we see with our Creatio customers, marketeers, sales reps, operations, they automate their processes using low-code, no-code tools without IT help, without IT experts. And why that? Because there’s a huge shortage of IT experts in the world. So altogether, they are how many? 100 million IT experts in the world with 25 million coders or software developers. So that’s the number, and 1.7 billion knowledge workers that need actually their work to be automated.
How is it possible? The answer is there is no other way, but to give those tools to those knowledge workers who are going to do the automation, that’s a challenge. The market is being reshaped and the market is being disrupted by the way low-code, no-code technology because there is no other way to satisfy the demand. And the demand is huge because everyone needs those apps to automate their business processes.
The rapidly changing automation landscape
Small Business Trends: One of the things that people talk about a lot, and it’s getting a lot of attention, and rightfully so I think, is RPA (Robotic Process Automation). You talk about low-code, no-code, you talk about RPA, and then you have intelligent process automation (IPA) because sometimes it gets confused a little bit with certain folks. How does all of this work together? How does low-code, no-code and RPA and IPA, how does that all work together to actually help regular business folks, for instance?
Katherine Kostereva: So let’s talk about the low-code, no-code market in general and then about RPA as a part of it, okay?
Small Business Trends: Okay.
Katherine Kostereva: The market in general today is like $20 billion, maybe the global low-code, no-code market with the prediction to get to $200 billion in eight years from today. So the growth rate is unbelievable, like one of the highest growth rates on the software market, actually. The market currently is fragmented. Although segments are starting to be shaped. So different segments are appearing right now. RPA is one of those segments. Spreadsheet applications like Smartsheet, for example, Airtable would be another segment of low-code, no-code apps. Another segment would be API integrations, like Zapier, for example. Another example would be BPM (Business Process Management) low-code, no-code like Creatio, for example.
So all the different types of low-code, no-code apps are emerging. And they come from different use cases. For example, this RPA example that you gave would be a very different use case than Smartsheet use cases, or than Creatio use cases when we automate business processes on the front office operations and middle office operations. So very different use cases, but all of them do one big thing, let knowledge workers automate their business processes on the fly and change them at an accelerated speed.
Low-code no-code and Customer Experience
Small Business Trends: So how do you see those folks being able to leverage this low-code environment in customer experience and customer engagement, things of that nature?
Katherine Kostereva: I would love to talk about that. So what are the standard use cases for Creatio? Our customer can choose Creatio just for one single small business process with, I don’t know, 20 people involved into this process. They build this, let’s say customer onboarding. Customer onboarding is a great example. So they build customer onboarding process on our platform, and then they start expanding it inside their organization.
So those knowledge workers, who we call citizen developers, they take our app and they start using it for multiple different processes, lead management, lending. If it’s financial services, debt collection, customer retention, contact center automation, you name it. So the list goes on and on and on.
Let’s take for example, Salesforce automation. There are so many different types of sales processes; direct sales, enterprise sales, transactional sales, channel sales, field sales, like all these new types of processes. And then when we take one of them, let’s say channel sales, channel sales would be a reference agency sales or integrator sales. All are different types of business processes that need to be automated somehow.
And this is not a rare situation, Brent. That’s actually what I meant when we talked four years ago, when we’d come to their organization and they have one, or two, or three, or even five processes automated, but they have other five processes that haven’t been touched yet and they need to be automated. So that’s what I’m talking about like to… Let me put it this way, Brent, every company today is becoming a software company. Especially with the pandemic, especially with acceleration that we’ve seen, every company is becoming a software company, and every company wants to own their technology.
When I say own, I mean being able to change and adapt and do whatever they need with this technology. So, to give those tools to our customers, that’s the biggest privilege that we see here at Creatio, and the same to our peers.
No-code Low-code is the new black for automation
I want to circle back to this number, 500 million apps that need to be built within a few years and 25 million software developers. There is no way that this demand can be satisfied only by software developers. It’s just impossible. No way that it will be done in a traditional way.
Low-code, no-code is a new way of automation. And that is why, what I strongly believe, and actually that there was another interesting analytics from Gartner, 65% of enterprise software by 2024 will be built on top of the low-code, no-code platform, and will use the elements of low-code, no-code. So that’s definitely the enterprise market disruption that we’re seeing, and Creatio is very excited to be a big part of this disruption and market change.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.