Automation: The Next Great Digital Business Hope

Posted by Mike Vizard on Oct 16, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Automation of everything from IT operations to entire business processes is clearly the next big thing as organizations increasingly come to understand that they need to evolve into digital businesses. But a new survey of 304 IT professionals in North America finds that there isn’t a whole lot of consensus on where and when to automate specific functions or, for that matter, who is actually in charge of applying it.

Automation_gearsHistorically, IT staffs in particular have been wary of automation. Many of them recognized that to one degree or another IT automation was a threat to their jobs. But the study conducted by PMG, a provider of enterprise service catalog and business process automation software, finds that given the complexity of managing modern IT environments there is now a lot less resistance to automation.

For example, a full 78 percent say their IT staffs are overloaded. In fact, 81 percent say automation is likely to or most definitely will change the way virtual and cloud computing environments are managed. In addition, 68 percent say IT automation is likely to or most definitely will reduce IT operation costs.

A big driver of all the increased interest in automation is a desire to make IT more of a self-service endeavor. The ultimate goal is to allow end users and customers to service their own requirements with as little intervention from IT staffs and employees as possible. In fact, the PMG survey finds that 71 percent believe self-service capabilities will be applied across their entire organizations.

Of course, all that is a lot easier said than done. A full 50 percent concede their organization does not have a holistic approach to automation and 48 percent also admit that their organizations are currently in creating silos of automation that are likely to be incompatible with one another. Unfortunately, just about half the respondents admit their business processes are too immature to actually automate.

For IT service providers the need to automate IT operations and business processes creates a significant opportunity. Many IT service providers have already learned to automate IT operations at scale, which puts them in a better position to automate IT functions than the internal IT organization. The real opportunity, however, may be the automation of business processes. Service providers that are capable of automating an entire business process are likely to be viewed as adding a lot more value to the business than those that simply make IT easier to manage.

Naturally, that creates a challenge for IT service providers. While there’s more interest in automating IT, the simple fact is that competition in this space will drive the margins generated by delivering those service inexorably downwards. Automating business processes, on the other hand, allow service providers to embed themselves much more deeply into the operations of their customers.

The first order of business, of course, would be to figure out what business processes lend themselves to higher levels of automation. After all, if the respondents in the PMG survey made anything clear, the thing they are wrestling with most when it comes to automation is figuring out just where to get started.


Topics: Growing Your MSP Business

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