Why IT automation is key to digital transformation
February 2020: remember the date because this was when the world finally agreed that the only way to survive was by adopting technology whole-heartedly. Collaboration for designing and delivering the vaccine needed to quell COVID19, or for family time, or to ensure your business was sustainable. Welcome to the 4th Humanity Revolution with technology as the engine and attitude and behavior changes as drivers of the innovation culture. In this article, I will explain the actions you can do today to get started and the benefits of using technology to automate your IT services.
Every poll taken shows that digital transformation is the imperative of every organization, regardless of size and scope. But what does the phrase “digital transformation” mean?
- Digital: Relating to or being a device that can generate, record, process, receive, transmit, or display information represented in discrete numerical form over devices connected to the internet.
- Transformation: A marked change, as in appearance, behavior, character, or way of achieving something, usually for the better.
Digital Transformation are the alterations that you make to the way you work, collaborate, obtain and build products or services and improve them continuously. It is fast, experimentative, and needs the focus of leaders, staff, and vendor-partners working together to keep the business in business. It is mostly based on an integrated set of technology tools: cloud, data storage, mining, engagement, recording, problem-solving, measurement and report, and governance. It implies that you have changed the way you work such that the result is better than whatever you were doing beforehand.
Moved your staff to Zoom or your applications to the cloud? Fantastic! But neither of these are digital transformations unless you can prove that the impact is a better and safer way of working while also satisfying customers.
Actions to Automation
The first step is for leadership to take a holistic view of what they want to achieve, why they want to accomplish this, how they will know, and what has to occur to make the vision happen. Every process within the organization is mapped as a chain of tasks, with each action reviewed for effort, time, quality, and value outcome.
This amount of data requires IT automation tools (technology) to derive the possible options and enable employees to begin to work differently. The cloud can help by acting as your inexpensive sandpit to try various tools and process changes to affirm the desired results.
Opportunities for IT automation:
- Removal manual and repetitive tasks
- Gathering intelligence on customer issues and demand
- Monitor time and quality of work along the value chain
- Alert on issues to allow teams to swarm solutions
- Obtain feedback and deliver this information to teams to support decisions on products and services: new, pivot, or stop
- Escalation to leadership for direction and support
Leaving IT process automation in IT delivers little value. Only when business processes are improved by technology can you wholly derive the transformation required to perform digitally. For example, service desks are typically reactive, which annoys customers who can move to a new service with a couple of clicks. What if the Service Desk could send a message informing the customer of possible weather-related delays or requested their input on proposed changes to services by adding them to the design sandpit? Now the Service Desk is viewed as the face of that business that encourages customer attraction and retention. This would be impossible if the processes were not linked and automated.
What actions do you need to take to begin automating IT processes?
We suggest asking the following questions:
- How do we do things today?
- What problems do we see, or what areas have we not yet provided a reasonable solution?
- What data do you need, where is it generated, what resources are required, time of actions, continuity needs, security, and compliance?
- How long does each action take and what do we have to ensure that it is of quality?
- And our favorite question: What if? What if we used artificial intelligence to sort through the data and, based on criteria, allow the process to occur without human intervention?
Digital transformation has engaged your employees to change their practices as required to ensure normal operations are efficient. But what about future growth? Can your organization take the feedback gathered by IT automation and use it to change the business model quickly? For example, customers want to order pizzas not from a menu but a list of ingredients, or if you have a warehouse, what data do you use to keep inventory (costs) at the right level? Think about how the Post Office is digitizing stamps. Plus, online signatures are now legal, reducing the time of contract handling. Businesses dream of new services that capture customers globally or help their communities daily by automating processes and moving them to the digital economy.
You know you are on your way to digital transformation when processes align across the organization, and you can scale decisions based on data.
You have to be able to take the business to the customer. For example, a UK online bank works closely with customers to design the future: new ways of lending money or paying for services or obtaining insurance are current examples of future thinking with minimum human interaction.
IT process automation is aiding adaptivity by humans and for humans. So the people that used to perform manual chores are now upskilled to create and service digital services. Some IT automation can reduce the employee cost factor, but most organizations discover that the knowledge lost is not always worth the financial gain. Your people know what happens, so digital leaders allow them to use the process automation practices to their benefit.
A personal example is to consider that your car is software. You start and warm up your vehicle while finishing your coffee inside your house. Your vehicle syncs to your calendar, trip directions, fuel requirements, provides warnings due to route congestion, perhaps even sends a message to the next appointment. All you need to do is drive! The list of possibilities is almost endless.
7 Tips for automating IT processes
- Use value stream mapping to visualize your processes
- Automate manual and repetitive tasks
- Use automation to break down the organisational silos by building new engagement practices
- Benefit from your vendor’s experience
- Use the cloud as your ultimate playground and technology destination
- Make sure that whatever business process you automate does not compromise continuity, compliance, security, or safety
- Upskill everyone: technical, cognitive, problem-solving, tools in use
Final Thoughts on IT service automation
The World Economic Forum feels that by 2022 60% of global GDP will be digitised, and the new value will only occur when enabled by digital platforms.
Digital transformation is not a fancy use of tools but processes intelligently automated to create outcomes for staff, customers, and the communities you serve.
CIOs and senior IT stakeholders must change from “We want technology, so now go make it happen” management to “We understand how technology can help us, and we need your help to achieve our vision.” IT process automation will enable any value chain, but it can also make a business obsolete in a matter of minutes if introduced incorrectly. Look at the news stories of data leaks or service outages that have outraged customers. You do not want to be one of these stories! Work with your vendors to upskill your business with the knowledge required to be a digital business.
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