FAQ

Intwixt turns messaging apps like Slack into business process engines. It’s no-fuss, no-install software delivered from the cloud.

What is a “Conversational Automation Platform”?

Intwixt's Conversational Automation Platform (CAP) is a unique, people-first approach to Business Process Automation. While existing platforms typically focus on automating systems, Intwixt’s hybrid approach is able to interleave people and systems into realistic solutions that reflect real-word business processes.

Automating people is difficult, especially given human unpredictability. They interrupt the process, change its course, and sometimes fail to respond at all. People need something more akin to conversation. Instead of treating unexpected human behavior as an error, Intwixt elegantly resolves the change of flow like a change of conversation.

Conversational platforms are easily distinguished from traditional automation platforms in their ability to manage state. Without the ability to know what was, is, and might be said, it is difficult to engage a person on their terms. Legacy automation platforms are easily identified by their stateless interactions. They might be able to send an alert (perhaps through email or messaging channels like Slack). But it is cumbersome and expensive to await the answer, react to a change of dialog, and truly engage the recipient.

Are "workflows" different from "business processes"?

At Intwixt, we define workflows as short-running, system-to-system automations. The workflow might conclude by sending an email or Slack message, but the hallmark of a workflow is that it never waits for the person to respond.

Workflows are stateless. There is no sense of time or timeouts. Instead, they represent a straight-through process that concludes once the message is sent to a person. It’s easy to spot a workflow--even those that involve people--because the step-by-step sequence of activities will always stop or end once the message is sent.

Business processes are different in that they model the entire process, including the human interaction (what we call a “conversation”). This allows a business process to model an entirely different class of application, where people can be asked questions, and different (even unexpected) answers can be handled--even the non-answer (a timeout) can be addressed. While business processes are stateful, workflows are stateless.

Why is the distinction between stateful and stateless so important?

Stateless processes underlie the majority of automation platforms including iPaaS and RPA solutions. They are intended to support business scenarios that involve short-running logic and have high-performance requirements.

Stateful processes are intended to support business scenarios that involve people and therefore have different demands, requiring complex, long-running logic. Stateful processes often have specific reliability and recovery requirements that simply can’t be modeled by stateless solutions. For example, a process that sends a question to a person and awaits a response must be stateful, because the act of waiting and being able to recover and continue execution will always take an indeterminate amount of time.

We believe that intelligent automation, including AI-decision making and supporting technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP) require stateful deployment. Further, in order to take full advantage of modern communication platforms like Slack, it’s necessary to support stateful interactions. A critical component of messaging platforms (and what makes them vastly superior to email) is the concept of "channels"--shared inboxes where like-minded groups can conduct business. However, without state, channels are soon cluttered with interactive messages that never go away. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to clean up once a message times out or the process takes a different turn, leaving the team confused as to which messages have been viewed and claimed.

Whether you’re deploying stateless workflows or stateful business processes, the Intwixt CAP has you covered. Our novel approach to unifying human and system interaction, means you can model long-running human conversations as easily as short-running, system-to-system integrations.

What data does Intwixt collect through its platform service?

Intwixt collects your Slack contact information when you choose to sign up using your Slack account. This includes your Slack ID, Slack Team ID, email address and name. If you do not wish to sign up with Slack, please contact us directly. We’ll request your email and optionally collect your phone number if you wish to enable two-factor authentication.

Because our process engine is fully stateful, we temporarily store all data as it travels through our system. However, once a flow completes its execution, all information is fully scrubbed from our servers within 30 minutes of completion.

How do you compare to Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) seeks to automate manual, mundane, and repetitive tasks. It’s often touted as a way “to take the robot out of the human” by factoring out predictable, linear business processes. This focus makes it easy to apply RPA to linear tasks, but challenging when addressing complex decision-making activities.

RPA tools and strategies aren’t designed to automate human decision-making. They shine as long as the process remains linear and predictable. But armed with Intwixt’s conversation modeling tools, developers can design hybrid solutions that take RPA to the next level--towards Intelligent Business Process Automation, with a strong focus on human interaction, stateful conversations, and AI.

How do you compare to traditional iPaaS vendors?

An Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) is primarily focused on automating data sharing between systems. They leverage APIs to predictably orchestrate the targeted systems.

Intwixt's Conversational Automation Platform (CAP) supports the same patterns provided by traditional iPaaS vendors but is also backed by a stateful process engine, capable of conversational, cognitive, and long-running business processes.

Our conversation platform combines people and systems in unified workflows, delivering advanced business process capabilities like timeouts and exception handling. People can be unpredictable, sending unanticipated phrases (or nothing at all). We react and learn to keep the conversation going. Our ability to turn any messaging app into a business process engine means no more switching between applications. Slack, Alexa, Messenger, SMS and more...we keep you productive, all in one place.
Cognitive computing uses artificial intelligence (AI) to simulate advanced human decision-making capabilities. We seamlessly integrate AI to sense, respond, predict, and learn. AI enhances our rule-based workflows and business processes, making end-user interactions more fluid and flexible. The insights don't replace human interaction; they make it better.
Long-running business processes span systems, people, and time, requiring state in order to orchestrate and perform efficiently. While stateless systems offer limited and simple workflows, statefulness opens up advanced interactions that reflect the complex interactions between people and systems they use.

Does Intwixt support other messaging services beyond Slack?

Yes. In fact, some of Intwixt’s customers are using Facebook Messenger and Alexa as well as traditional channels like email and SMS. We’ve chosen to focus on Slack given its broad adoption and robust messaging APIs. With Slack, it’s finally possible to fully replace mobile and Web applications given the completeness of their platform. As other platforms evolve and improve, we hope to leverage them as well to reach users where they work.

How do I get started?

Intwixt provides a hosted community edition of the platform at https://my.intwixt.com. We offer each user a free trial instance with a limited number of flows and activity calls. If you need additional resources beyond what the Free tier offers, you can upgrade to our Pro tier. If you require further customizations ask us about our Enterprise deployments.

Can I connect my private APIs?

Our development tools are cloud-hosted and available through modern browsers like Chrome, Safari and Firefox. We offer a growing list of more than 30 connectors. Importantly, you can add your own connectors and orchestrate your private APIs as well.

If you have an API spec document (Open API/Swagger), we can import its operations in just a few seconds. You can then use our no-code design tools to orchestrate your APIs directly within the messaging platform of your choice. If you do not have a spec document, we can also use sample JSON messages to get you started.

Can I monitor real-time events?

In addition to providing a fully stateful process engine, we publish a detailed set of life-cycle events to CloudWatch when your application is activated and run, allowing you to set custom triggers or forward the events to an analytics engine of your choosing. If you choose to deploy mission-critical solutions to Slack (or any messaging platform we support), this event stream is critical to isolating and tracking issues the second they arise. These include:

App Start | Credential in Use | App Stop
Flow Activate | Activity Initialize | Trigger Initialize | Trigger Destroy | Flow Deactivate
Job Start | Job Stop | Job Stop With Error
Activity Start | Activity in Waiting | Activity Retry | Activity Stop | Activity Stop With Error

What kind of support does Intwixt offer?

We provide community forums, user guides, and API documentation. These are available to both Free and Pro accounts. We offer ELAs for enterprises with more-specific needs in order to help you stay productive, particularly when modeling complex business scenarios. While our tooling is easy to learn, it can be challenging to learn how to deliver the same functionality over a messaging channel like Slack as is typically offered by Web and mobile applications.

Want to learn more?

Run conversational business processes backed by our AI-enabled process engine.

Efficient
Efficiency
Transparent
Transparency
Usable
Usability
Extensible
Extensibility