Get your organization ready to embrace the next big thing across your enterprise
The primary objective of automation is to eliminate routine no-brainer tasks and improve employee productivity. Enterprises will also continue to embrace automation technologies to improve corporate financial performance while simultaneously accelerating business growth. As digitization and automation conquer the world, there will be significant needs for new breed of workforce – “the digital labor” – that combines broad operational knowhow with deep business domain. As enterprises define, hire, train, and depute this new breed of digital labor, care must be taken to ensure enterprise-wide adoption of automation doesn’t disrupt business continuity, by properly planning and executing the necessary organization-wide changes.
Enterprises that have embarked on the automation journey successfully have put in place strong HR best practices that focus on:
- Workforce motivation: Use automation to relieve employees to perform higher value activities. This enables key employees to stay motivated – in turn increase their productivity and retention.
- Reduction in Training: Use of RPA minimizes training needs to enable new employees to be quickly productive.
- Skill development: As business understanding becomes more important than operational know-how, employees are motivated to learn business skills.
- Flexibility: With the reduction of labor intensive, non-value add manual tasks, employees get to better flexibility and work life balance.
- Mobility: With integration of automation in day-to-day activities, work location of employees will become increasingly less important, increasing the mobility of workforce.
Additionally, as automation becomes widely adopted inside an enterprise, there will be an increased need for crisis management skills. With increasing expectations on business performance driven by automation, tolerance for failures will be virtually non-existent.
Last, but certainly not least, enterprise security considerations have become increasingly critical as automation takes center stage. With billions of security incidents occurring on a daily basis, automation could be vulnerable to cyber threats and attacks. Building capabilities to provide threat protection will be critical for institutional adoption of automation technologies.
Let us now explore other avenues for automation-
Automating IT operations: Automating IT operations is another main area of priority for many CIOs. With wide- spread adoption of digitization and cloud computing, automated infrastructure management has become a critical need for enterprises.
Automation in IT is typically carried out based on a maturity model with continuous evolution of capabilities, to deliver ongoing benefits. Automation can dramatically reduce the need to manually perform high-volume IT support, workflow management and routine infrastructure maintenance.
The eventual goal is to harness machine learning and AI technologies using algorithms to make behavioral predictions and make decisions on which actions will lead to optimal results.
The success of automating IT lies in self-healing capabilities triggering basic runbook automation processes based on simple pre-established logics. There are several 3rd party tools available already that provide varying levels of capabilities to automate IT operations. The tools themselves may not be sufficient, however powerful they may be. Automating inefficient operational processes will still deliver suboptimal results. Hence, it is critical to define an automation roadmap that takes into account the enterprise IT architecture holistically to determine the most appropriate automation sequence.
One of the most exciting areas of IT automation is the integration of release and deployment processes with development lifecycle. An integrated and automated DevOps environment leads to business agility and reduces the operational frictions in deploying new business functionalities. For instance, Virtusa has delivered up to 50% improvements in capacity utilization, service levels and provisioning times by simply automating DevOps for a large enterprise client.
Automating quality assurance: This is another key focus area for several enterprises. With hybrid-agile and agile software development gaining importance in building applications on a rapid timescale, automated quality assurance has become a de-facto need in reducing deployment timelines and improving production failure recovery times. Several enterprises have seen their cost of QA reduce by 40-50% through automation of processes across test environment setup, test-script generation, cross-channel test case execution (web, mobile, SOA) etc., combined with reuse of test automation investments for future deployments, testing costs per deployment could be brought down as much as 70%. Industry studies also show that in 2014, 70% of server provisioning were virtual leading to significant reductions in setup time and costs.
In a recent leading industry analyst survey, 85% of the respondents believe ITO-improved staff productivity renders businesses more competitive. Industry advisors forecast 30 to 45% cost reduction in IT services and up to 60% in managed services as a result of automation in IT operations.
In this series of blogs, we have seen the importance of RPA and how to strategize its implementation. However, Compliance, security, reliability and scale will be key challenges for the adoption of automation. Organizational change management will be another key consideration for large scale deployment of automation capabilities. A recommended starting point is to leverage expert solution providers, who have invested in establishing methodology for institutionalizing RPA, for example, through a Center of Excellence framework that clearly defines the necessary steps to help enterprises initiate their automation journeys in the right direction.