Automated systems continue to increase in popularity, especially for the purpose of automating IT operations. According to Accenture, 70% of IT executives are investing in artificial intelligence technology than just a few years ago. Furthermore, an astounding 55% of corporate executives claim that they plan on implementing machine learning and embedded AI solutions to further their business ventures. It just goes to show that automation is the future of IT management.
Automation is becoming so important that titles such as the Chief Automation Officer (CAO) are becoming a reality. In a sense, the CAO works alongside the CIO to manage an organization’s technological assets. The CIO focuses on developing new processes and strategies for managing technology, while the CAO uses automation tools to make the transition to the new processes as painless and efficient as possible. The most notable trend is that automation is happening sooner rather than later; a significant development that allows businesses to better manage time and resources in the long run.
Some of the most notable shifts in the use of IT automation include:
- Help desk automation: One of the most common ways that automation has invaded the business environment is through machine-learning automated help desk solutions. These systems look at the current needs of the user and feed them possible resolutions, allowing for a self-serve type of help desk. In some cases, the help desk is monitored by a real employee who addresses issues that the automation system cannot. This is helpful if your enterprise’s IT staff is too busy to respond to urgent requests.
- Connectivity: By taking advantage of API technology, applications can communicate with the cloud to perform various tasks or retrieve data. However, most APIs require custom scripting for organizations to take full advantage of them. It’s thought that in the near future there will be end-to-end connectivity with universal APIs that don’t require the intensive scripting procedure.
- Workload automation: Organizations that once relied on batch processing to schedule and execute IT commands can now take advantage of a workload automation solution. Where batch scheduling is often independent to an application or operating system, workload automation seeks to break down these barriers and offer a solution designed to work in a more complicated and connected environment, thus saving both time and money.
IT Automation Pitfalls
If you plan on implementing new automation solutions, be sure to watch out for Gartner’s top IT automation pitfalls. Keep in mind that these need to be addressed before the implementation of automation solutions:
- Shortage of IT Automation People and Skills: Do you have the time and resources necessary to begin the IT automation process? If you want to ensure that your implementation goes off without a hitch, you need to consult with your in-house or outsourced experts to guarantee that your automation project is feasible.
- Lack of Documentation for Existing Processes: It’s important that your IT department knows the details before you begin the automation process, and that every process be recorded and documented for future use.
- Cultural Resistance: At first, your in-house employees might oppose the idea of implementing automated solutions because they feel that their jobs are on the line. Instead of this “machine vs human” mindset, you should propagate a “machine and human” mindset, where automated solutions are augmented by human involvement.
- Lack of Standards and Process Expertise: Since automation is still a relatively new concept, there’s a lack of standards that your business needs to make up for by reinforcing your own. Put standards into place for your automation solutions, and stick to them. Everyone in your organization should have an understanding of why you’re implementing automation, and what it accomplishes.
- Loss of Focus and Traction: If your organization is implementing automation, you should be focused on that goal. If your team gets distracted with other critical business functions, you could put the entire project in jeopardy. The last thing you want is for a project to be rushed in order to meet a deadline, as it could lead to features not being implemented properly and other cut corners.
Before Implementing IT Automation…
If you’re considering the implementation of automated systems with your organization’s IT infrastructure, you should consider these questions. Doing so can help you get the best return on your investment.
- What is the business value? Your organization should be able to identify a clear return on investment for automation solutions. It’s up to you to determine whether the automation you want is the automation you need.
- Does automation simplify processes? There’s no point to your automation initiative if it’s not going to simplify your organization’s operations. The last thing you want is to further complicate operations through automation; after all, it’s meant to improve operations, not hold them back.
- Is automation enhancing quality? Automating processes might make things easier to manage, but you shouldn’t be compromising on quality or security. If automation comes at the cost of decreased product quality or more complicated workflows, it might be time to address your approach to automation.
Furthermore, consider these pros and cons:
- Cost vs ROI: Are you going to save money on this investment?
- Procedural/Operational Benefits: Does your enterprise save time and effort through automation?
- Employee Effect: Will automation make your employees’ jobs easier?
- Overall Impact: How much will automation help your business moving forward?
- Long-term effects of adoption: Will automation help your enterprise grow, and will the automation be able to grow alongside it?