How smart companies use automation without job-killing robots

November 29, 20163 Minute Read

Throughout the past five years, we’ve seen a surge of advancements in analytics, mobility, and cloud—leaving IT drowning in buzzwords and the fear of job-killing robots. And while IT is jumping on board and investing in the new tools, many of these tools will be rendered useless without IT automation.

Microservices, according to Beth Pariseau at TechTarget, is one recent advancement in app development that “can’t be supported well using traditional IT ops practices.” Unlike a monolithic application that is built in one piece, a microservice application is built in composable pieces. As systems and networks have become more complex, it’s impossible to effectively handle manual provisioning and dependencies. Instead, today’s IT teams need “elegant and automated” management tools.

Automation in 2016 isn’t necessarily about robots or algorithms that are smarter than humans. And you don’t need to be a software company using complex architecture like microservices to use automation. It’s about smarter workflows and reduction of time-wasting manual work that makes IT feel more like an assembly line than an innovation factory. Let’s take a closer look at the kinds of automation tools IT should look out for in 2016, and how they save time and money on the manual work that is better left to the machines.

Security automation

The 24/7 cycle of information security risks and the hackers who run it have made automation crucial in network monitoring. According to Network Computing, companies are buying into intrusion detection tools and governance features to battle intrusions and stay compliant, including security information and event management software, and file integrity monitoring solutions. “Manual work is risk,” says Stephanie Tayengco, “and manual security work is a disaster waiting to happen.” Additionally, printers and other networked devices are offering built-in security features and other security measures to mitigate risks to the network, including elements that have the ability to detect compromises to critical system files and reset upon startup. “Within five years,” Tayengco says, “as data balloons and hybrid environments become more common, the manual security approach will be impossible to maintain.”

Automated workflows

IT professionals as well as leaders in other areas of enterprises and SMBs have long struggled to control their processes to the degree they need while remaining flexible and efficient. Collaboration and approvals are still critical, and they’re not getting any easier in an age when organizations are adapting to a mobile workforce. With the help of business process automation tools like drag-and-drop advanced process modelling, analytics for advanced oversight, and advanced systems integration, IT leaders can improve oversight and streamline processes for end users. More efficiency with sharing and accessing data can allow employees to work better, and automating workflows helps optimize business outcomes and decrease costs.

Real-life opportunities for automation

While IT automation tools are everywhere, IT pros have to weigh their immediate needs against pragmatic considerations. As ZDNet reports, your processes and tasks may be automation-ready if they involve a high degree of manual work or risk for human error. Nighttime data centre operations and batch processing are prime for automation, says ZDNet, along with status software updates and decision-making that is “machine addressable.” It’s crucial to balance the efficacy of human effort against the ease of technology-aided intervention. After all, machines aren’t always better.

The benefits of automating document management and printing workflows can improve the way employees work organization-wide. From email to voice mail and beyond, unstructured data is making its way into everyday workflows. With tools that are smart enough to capture and securely store a variety of intelligence, employees can seamlessly share and access information in ways that fit with their increasingly mobile workflows.

While IT experts continue to predict a future where humans will work alongside robots and algorithms, the average company is looking to invest in smart tools, not impossibly intelligent robots. Today’s IT automation tools are more about helping people work more quickly and intelligently with optimized tools. From security event monitoring to document management and printing, automation is all about helping companies manage the complexity required for true innovation.

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