IT Automation is good for business, and good for people
Automation, whether it’s digital, mechanical, or otherwise, has long been met with suspicion—that it’s a moneymaker for the owner but a job-killer for everyone else. In reality, IT automation merely takes on the routine, tedious functions in the management of complex systems, allowing the human brain to concentrate on more abstract, far-reaching, and (hopefully) profitable activities. An automated IT environment, in fact, is only useful if it allows humans to become more productive, and therefore more valuable to the enterprise.
Aiding (not eliminating) the workforce
This is particularly true for data and data infrastructure. As Dr. Sean Blanchflower, head of HPE Research and Development in the UK, pointed out to Dataconomy recently that automatically converting data into forms that are most usable to humans makes the knowledge workforce more efficient and effective. This, in fact, is one of the primary reasons so many organizations are investing in Big Data: to transform the value that lies within data into knowledge people can then convert into greater productivity, and profitability, for the organization. This added value can manifest itself in myriad ways across the enterprise, from transportation and logistics to product development and new market penetration.
Naturally, labor-intensive industries like manufacturing and retail (and their employees) stand to benefit greatly from a more automated data ecosystem. New software releases are starting to target these and other industry verticals as a means to enhance labor as a critical asset by improving their access to knowledge and their decision-making capabilities. Kronos Inc. and Axsium Group, for instance, have launched a retail-store performance plugin based on the Kronos Workforce Analytics application. The intent is to discover hidden barriers to both employee and customer satisfaction by optimizing schedules, balancing working hours, and driving better coordination between employee availability and customer demand. The plugin provides an intuitive, role-based dashboard that presents key metrics and other data to highlight strengths and weaknesses in retail environments.
Enhancing (not diminishing) worker value
Leveraging advanced IT automation in the data center is also one of the best ways for IT to support knowledge workers and enhance their value to the enterprise they work for. According to McKinsey, automation results in “the potential to provide more timely access to information and raise the quality and pace of decision making and, consequently, performance.” Line-of-business managers get the resources they need quicker and more to their needs, while techs in the data center can focus on higher-order strategic and architectural pursuits. For many, this is the difference between being a cost-center for the enterprise, ripe for outsourcing, and a value-adder who contributes directly to the bottom line.
Already highly valued, functions like data security and resource availability are benefiting from a more automated data environment. According to a recent study by Dimensional Research on behalf of cloud management firm xMatters, two thirds of IT executives say they routinely exceed their target resolution times following an outage, while less than half utilize basic tools like automated notification, opting instead for manual processes. This is becoming increasingly problematic as more and more critical enterprise infrastructure is exposed to HTTP and other internet protocols as a result of increased cloud computing and reliance on colocation facilities.
In each of these examples, it’s clear that automation allows workers to shed their support roles and become active contributors to their company’s core business models. Most employees who are stuck performing repetitive, mind-numbing tasks don’t remain long in those jobs by choice, opting instead to improve their skill sets or seek opportunity elsewhere. In this way, an automated enterprise needs thousands of data management workers like a transport company needs teams of oxen to move freight across the country.
As new automation capabilities makes its way into the enterprise, IT will find ways to relieve the boredom of the workday and allows them to pursue more relevant, creative activities—and it also makes it easier to turn ideas into valuable business endeavors.
To learn more about how automation enables IT, read “Traditional meets innovation, Unleash your IT potential.”