Neil Kinson, Chief of Staff, Redwood Software, explores what the true cost of outdated automation is and explains how businesses can discover the root cause of the automation gap in order to find a solution
The WLA (WLA) landscape at many organisations has built up over time in disconnected silos and layers. Recent analyst research even proves that only 8% of IT leaders believe that they have a unified approach and toolset for automation. Core IT processes that support the business are automated using a combination of multiple legacy WLA and scheduling tools that are on average 24 years old.
Workload automation and scheduling are the workhorses of digital business can support multiple business applications and workflows within an organisation. It is, in many ways, a successor to job scheduling as it tries to cover the automation of entire systems within heterogeneous server infrastructure. With the increasing digital demands being placed on business IT, these kinds of ageing tools operating in isolation present a huge problem.
The ultimate goal of automation is to relieve people of manual work. If the automation tools themselves actually create more work and complexity for people who must watch and shepherd tasks, then they are letting their people down. So how can businesses find the root cause of automation woes and solve them? And what is the true cost of outdated automation?
Most businesses operate in a world where data is governed by static and rigid rules, we call them accounting standards, internal controls, policies and procedures and much more. Artificial Intelligence and cognitive computing have created this perception that the reason we have not addressed the automation needs of businesses today, is that the technology is not smart enough.
If one looks at the reality of day-to-day work in many organisations, the value that people can deliver is not constrained by their lack of intellectual capacity, is it that they are drowning in mundane tasks that prevent them from being their best selves.
The focus should be on freeing the people from the things that automation can to better, so they are able to do the things people do best. AI and associated technologies play a part in this, but the ultimate goal should be equipping employees with the best information and analysis such that they can make the best-informed business decisions.
Modern IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) are foundational support for digital business. They deliver the best possible customer experiences and the right information for organisational leadership. While automation is at the core of I&O, the landscape of workload automation and scheduling tools on which it’s built is often a rugged terrain of isolated applications that have been in place for more than a decade.
What may appear to be a fully automated enterprise, typically has many hidden gaps that are filled by costly and risky manual human effort. An increasingly competitive global market functioning during an ongoing health crisis underscores the need to transform the IT enterprise as quickly as possible. Technology that supports business must be faster and more resilient without the manual effort that sustains legacy automation in many enterprises. Top-performing organisations have already calculated the benefits and eliminated their automation gap. With the right approach and modern automation solutions, any organisation can eliminate the risks and cost of outdated tools.
Mind the (automation) gap
The automation gap faced by businesses today shows up whenever silos must be crossed for processes to complete or exceptions occur. People have to step in and bridge the gap between automated tasks – at all hours of the night and day. Many times, these people create and use checklists and spreadsheets to help them manually shepherd processes through the IT and business landscape. They also add in workarounds in the form of layers of code combined with further manual steps.
Recent events have made it clear that this kind of manual effort doesn’t work in times of stress. Direct human intervention cannot be the single fail-safe for the core automation that powers the business. It’s risky because human beings simply can’t scale at the speed of the changing, modern IT enterprise. Manual effort is also expensive.
The cost of the automation gap isn’t always obvious. Outdated WLA delivers results — the work gets done – but too often with significant, recurring operational costs. Worse, running and maintaining these outdated systems also inflicts real opportunity costs. Time and resources that should be invested in delivering automation and innovation to serve the business are instead consumed by the effort to host and operate them.
Outdated WLA tools running at the heart of an enterprise exposes organisations to spiralling costs and prevents innovation. They trap IT ops teams in seemingly endless cycles of maintenance, patching and quick fixes. They hide the ability of infrastructure leaders to join in more strategic corporate discussions.
Organisations that update to modern workload automation solutions are often surprised by the amount of time, effort, and money they can save – and how quickly they can outpace competitors with new agility and strategic advantage. But the real need to modernise WLA isn’t just a cost issue. It’s not about removing or replacing people at all. It’s about using technology to realise the best possible transformational strategy — enabling people to escape the mundane and participate in digital business.