VMware, the Dell Technologies-owned virtualisation and software provider, defines IT automation as:
“The process of creating software and systems to replace repeatable processes and reduce manual intervention.”
With IT automation, software is applied to set up, facilitate and repeat instructions and processes that save time and free up your IT employees to do more creative and strategic work. In a nutshell, your manual business processes – those previously carried out by humans – become automated through an accelerated delivery of IT infrastructure and applications. From a slightly more technical perspective, you could describe IT automation as a series of operations that enable the integration of tools, people and processes through automated workflows.
AREN’T THEY THE SAME?
In the Do It Yourself post last week, you saw how Business Process Automation (BPA) can magnify your efficiency and productivity. Both BPA and IT automation aka Digital Process Automation (DPA) rely heavily on digital transformation so aren’t they one and the same thing? Not quite. BPA is a much broader strategy going beyond the realms of IT automation or DPA. In essence, DPA focuses on using technology to transform individual segments of a business operation. BPA encompasses your business as a whole and aims to streamline processes across all departments. Gartner provides us with a succinct definition of BPA:
“The automation of complex business processes and functions beyond conventional data manipulation and record-keeping activities, usually through the use of advanced technologies. It focuses on “run the business” as opposed to “count the business” types of automation efforts and often deals with event-driven, mission-critical, core processes.”
Some say that BPA is more employee-focused whereas IT automation is driven by rationalising processes.
The possibilities of IT automation for your business are bountiful. The most common areas that IT departments address include cloud automation, security automation, network management, resource provisioning and configuration. The long and the short is that once your IT is automated, your IT staff and by extension other employees have more time for strategic activities. Take, for example, a new hire on their first day. With IT automation in place, they can hit the ground running with access to the apps they need and with the right permission levels in place. Employees are productive from Day 1 plus DPA shows that you’re organised and committed to the success of your team players.
WHAT YOU GAIN
Just as the possibilities of IT automation are almost unlimited, so are its benefits for your business. These include lowering costs, reducing errors, improving systems and data reliability, increasing productivity, being able to adapt and make changes faster and providing a bigger window for scalability. In addition to the value IT automation will add today and in the short term, broader prospects include
- your employees becoming increasingly self-reliant
- your employees having higher expectations of your SME
- a marked improvement in customer experiences and satisfaction
And if any of your employees remain skeptical about IT automation for fear of losing their jobs, show them what’s in it for them. For example, removing mundane tasks could help them take the next step in their career. Vipul Nagrath, CIO of Automatic Data Processing, the U.S. HR management software provider, advises:
“Convey what’s in it for them, and how it will benefit clients and the whole company. Compare the current state to a brighter future state, where the company enjoys greater stability, agility, efficiency, and security. You want to paint a picture of the current state that people can relate to. Present what’s working, but also highlight what’s causing teams to be less than agile. Then explain how automating certain processes will improve that current state.”
THE ADIDAS SUCCESS STORY
The success stories tied to IT automation are as abundant as its possibilities and benefits. Adidas, Europe’s largest sportswear manufacturer and the second largest globally after Nike, is a case in point. In 2010, the German retail giant decided to automate its IT across 400 factories. Adidas adopted a start small, think big, scale fast approach. The results were astonishing with a 60% reduction in operational supply chain costs, a 50% reduction in factory onboarding time, and an 87% faster contract approval cycle. As you can see, the results speak for themselves. A case study on IT automation further exemplified Adidas’ success:
“An agile methodology meant less development, more efficiency, and cost reduction. Adidas standardized processes and made them reusable to deliver automation across various departments including supply chain, marketing, finance, retail and eCommerce. The highly successful initiative reduced the time to market by two-thirds when compared with the traditional in-house development.”
LET’S STRATEGIZE TOGETHER
I believe that your IT should speed things up, not slow things down. Becoming automated is one step in the right direction to achieve this. With over 20+ years of experience in professional IT provision for SMEs, I can make sure that automating your IT works for you. Like Vipul Nagrath, I believe that IT automation will be beneficial not only to your company as a whole but also your employees and clients. Call me today and let’s strategize your route to IT automation.