With many large enterprises’ IT environments increasing in complexity, the idea of clinging to manual static processes that require constant human intervention and maintenance is not a viable solution for the future. Next-generation automation tools essentially make it simpler to maintain and evolve the organisation’s IT estate via sophisticated self-learning and self-healing systems.
The trend of recent years towards Cloud-centric and on-demand models of IT provisioning, helps to pave the way for more efficient and more automated integration between systems. It is against this backdrop that the benefits of widespread automation start to become possible.
Intelligent automation – in other words, the combination of artificial intelligence and automation— allows entire systems and processes to work flawlessly without the need for human intervention. This is truly a paradigm shift from remedial, manual infrastructure management to a proactive, automated management via predictive analytics and self-healing mechanisms. But perhaps, most valuably, as core functions start working autonomously, human capital resources are freed up to focus on higher-value, more strategic IT initiatives. Greater levels of automation help in getting rid of redundant tasks to make this possible.
This re-deployment of skills and resources often means energy can be diverted to other areas of the business – such as research and development, innovation, or new ventures. The result is often greater levels of agility and enhanced delivery of products and services to customers.
Widespread automation across the IT estate also enables the organisation to more easily connect new systems to the core enterprise architecture. These could be within the enterprise and also between the partner companies, broader ecosystems and industry value chains. Extending this concept further, automation can allow organisations tap into even more extensible innovation networks by easily connecting to partners, customers and ideators across multiple platforms. For example, a Canadian mining company exposed certain of its geological surveys, and invited innovations to develop modelling software that would identify the best areas to mine. This open-innovation, crowdsourcing initiative yielded profitable results for both the mining company and its innovation partner.
In fact, as the concept of “the Internet of Things” gains momentum, automation will assist companies in seamlessly connecting any number of connected devices and sensors – with the potential to generate new business models and innovation opportunities. In this new era, we will start to see everything from self-driving cars, to virtual customer assistants, to advanced robotics featuring self-learning abilities – all entering the commercial space and starting to impact business and create new innovation opportunities. According to the forecasts of research giant Gartner, this era of smart machines is likely to be the most disruptive in the history of IT.
IT automation also brings greater efficiency. Clients realise huge cost savings on maintenance when shifting to automated managed services models. These savings in the back-end allow funds to be re-diverted to innovation efforts at the front-end. Furthermore, automated and software-defined environments give organisations the flexibility they need to succeed in a digitised world. The Agile programming of the applications and infrastructure is essential in creating a dynamic models where new ideas can be quickly tested – either to be discarded or further explored and potentially commercialised.
As organisations gain awareness of the benefits of automation in the early stage of the automation maturity cycle, the focus starts to shift to new innovations that allow the company to reach higher levels of automation maturity. In many different ways, IT automation is the key that unlocks a company’s innovation strategy – allowing them to be more competitive while improving productivity, efficiency, and the delivery of products/services.
* Shailendra Singh, Business Director, Africa, Wipro.