How Humans Can (& Should) Transform Event Driven Architecture

Adding a Human Engagement Layer to EDA Can Empower More People to be More Productive

Before I joined the Slack team in 2020, I was a serial entrepreneur in the low-code BPM space. In the early days of my last startup, the most important part of my day was converting new leads into permanent customers, so it’s safe to say that I paid close attention to the stats.

What I found was eye-opening, if not altogether surprising: If we acted on a new lead within one hour, we were able to close the business 80% of the time. On the other hand, if we didn’t act within the hour or if a competitor engaged with the lead first, we only closed 30–40% of the time.

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. The way that your team engages with day-to-day events can have a massive impact on your bottom line. As our world becomes more and more real-time, it’s necessary to embrace a model of event-driven architecture that is better equipped to work with human-level engagement.

That means empowering your people to take control of the events that are coming their way, reclaiming their productivity and driving alignment in the process.

From ‘Best of Suite’ to ‘Best of Breed’: Integrating Nuance, Purpose, and Speed

In the last few years, we’ve seen a complete shift in the way people work. For many of us, there are more events vying for our attention than ever before, and a greater urgency to handle them as soon as possible.

It could be that a case has been escalated, or a purchase order received, or a new employee change that needs approval. Maybe one of your servers has crashed. These are the kind of fast-data events that need your attention now, where the value of a simple notification decreases exponentially with time. In other words, speed counts.

But the old guard of data-centric software models simply weren’t designed for the event-driven world that we now inhabit. Real-time problems need real-time solutions, and if human engagement isn’t purpose-built into the system, the resulting delays could translate to millions in lost revenue over time.

The value of a collaborative platform like Slack is its ability to re-mix all the ‘best of breed’ apps into one contiguous workspace. The result is not just a proliferation of data, but a proliferation of events, where employees are empowered to make the real-time decisions that need to be made.

Scaling Human Interaction: Getting the Right Event to the Right Person, at the Right Moment

When Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano erupted in March of 2021, the commercial airline industry was thrust into disarray as volcanic ash clouded the skies, blanketed runways, and diverted aircrafts across the globe. In terms of ‘events’ that need real-time solutions, this was kind of a big one.

But United Airlines, which already used Slack to coordinate systems and staff, was able to use Platform to code and implement a tailor-made response workflow. This made it possible for pilots, airport personnel, and even corporate partners to collaborate on a global, real-time response.

In short, United was able to extend Slack to meet their immediate critical needs. Developers can choose from an existing ecosystem of 2,450 integrations, or design a custom app for workflows that require a more specialized approach.

Noise into Productivity: Turning Critical Events into Critical Conversations

In the past, BPM systems have been designed for the singular goal of capturing a human being’s attention. E-mail, SMS, and push notifications are used to remind us of what we need to be doing, and ideally, when it needs to be done. But the reminder alone is no longer enough to help the actual human being manage these events.

As an example, let’s pretend that I’m a customer success person. I could get multiple notifications that we’ve closed a new customer opportunity. That’s great. But from that point on, the follow through is all on me. And when you think of how many other notifications I’m getting on a regular basis, there’s a pretty good chance that this notification is going to be neglected, or worse yet, ignored completely.

With EDA that is crafted for a higher level of human engagement, notifications and events are paired with tools that empower me to take the next step. New customer opportunity? Let’s make sure that we make the right introductions, or get the service team involved.

Or maybe I have a ticket that went past SLA. That’s an ‘oops’ that is bound to happen, and bound to result in a notification. So let’s take the next step and proactively reach out to that customer to find a solution.

That’s not just a level of transparency that the customer will appreciate, but a mechanism that will drive productivity with every event that comes in.

Final Thoughts

Not every event in our workday is going to have the same impact as the eruption of a central American volcano. But chaos is chaos, and when it comes to event-driven enterprises, execution is key. That’s why it’s important to give the user as much power as possible to not only respond to events, but also to be proactive about automating future responses to that same event.

For me, Slack is a good example of a human engagement layer that can make any EDA more effective. By organizing, prioritizing, and facilitating all of our critical lightweight processes, it drives employee productivity in a way that has never been possible before.

Steve Wood (@stevewoodwho) is VP Developer Platform at Slack and drives its continued success: 920k+ developers, 2,450+ integrations, 800k+ custom apps