"As we continue down the path of automation, virtually every city will have 24-hour convenience stores, 24-hour libraries, 24-hour banks, 24-hour churches, 24-hour schools, 24-hour movie theaters, 24-hour bars and restaurants, and even 24-hour shopping centers” – Thomas Frey.
Automation is one of the latest buzzwords in the workplace, but what exactly is it? Simply speaking, automation is a way of more smoothly doing the work we do by handing over mundane, run-of-the-mill tasks to computers and machines. This helps not only increase efficiency and save time but frees up employees for other tasks as well. Automation involves many steps, including the creation of the technology followed by its approval and application to do various tasks from simple monitoring duties to even controlling certain steps in a process. It helps save reduce paperwork and cuts down on operational costs significantly.
Almost every industry is seeing major revolutions due to automation – be it self-driving cars from Uber and TESLA in the transport sector, Missile Dome Technologies in the Defense sector, or even process automation in manufacturing industries. Recently, IT has been the biggest new industry to be driven towards automation.
Before we get into how the IT industry has been revolutionized by automation, we must look at the three types of automation:
Fixed Automation – It is used for simple processes and the assembly is pre-fixed and not changed at any point. It requires a sizable investment as the system needs to be custom-made, but usually produces the product at a very high rate due to its simplicity.
Programmable Automation – Various parts of the overall system can be altered in this kind of automation. This is typically done using a master program that allows us to control the whole process, allowing us to modify specifications or even use the same system to build new products. These have a lower rate of production than Fixed Systems but are more suitable for products that need to be altered between batches of production.
Flexible Automation – This is a Programmable system, but with enhancements in key areas. Reprogramming the system causes no loss in production time, and no time is lost between these changes as well. This increases the rate of production without compromising on the customization of the product.
In the IT industry, there is a real and urgent need to address the rapidly growing consumer base seen on online platforms and various IT services. IT automation, also called infrastructure automation, helps us create repeated processes to replace manual work done by humans. It is the IT Operations team of any company that brings about these changes, as they must now focus heavily on quickly bringing out changes in the IT environments, work with new developments and technologies and work hand-in-hand with other business organizations to bring about the best results. Automation can find use in anything from infrastructure and cloud provisioning to application deployment and configuration management.
As of today, there are various issues that plague the IT industry. These are issues such as unconnected management tools, difficulty in scaling of software and other IT solutions, and lack of consistency in certain policy requirements. It is not so easy to automate even at a company level, however. Skill gaps, department-level rules and procedures, inadequate or inappropriate tools and speed of innovation are all challenges. In many cases, automation has appeared in standalone parts of a system without being a company or industry level application.
There are various ways in which the IT industry is already using automation to reduce workload from humans – be it, employees or users!
Customer Support – Chatbots and automated email have revolutionized the industry and helped customers get the support they need even in the dead of night! A recent survey found that almost 46% of people prefer contacting businesses via email compared to a phone call.
Facility Management – Facilities in an office, such as meeting rooms, can often be difficult to manage efficiently. In today’s world, this is done using automation to allow clean and efficient ways of booking rooms, scheduling meetings and taking attendance, to name a few.
Form Autofill – A facility almost all of us are familiar with, this technology remembers what you usually fill in on online forms. When you are faced with yet another form to fill, it then recommends options to fill in all the fields with your usual entries. In some cases, even passwords are saved and need not be entered every time!
Employee Analytics – Companies like Johnson & Johnson, Hulu, and Roche are using tools to gain insights into the performance levels of their global teams. The AI used looks through various employee metrics that are gathered over a time frame and then generates results.
Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC) – This is a form of virtual networking, where the network is completely separated from the hardware that it is working on. To do so, the components of a network are emulated within certain software applications. By doing so, we allow provisioning of the network so that it can be managed independent of hardware. Such a system can be deployed on a public, private or hybrid cloud.
As per the list from G2, the following are the top-ranked IT Automation software that can help your company get into automation!
1. Microsoft System Center
4. vRealise Orchestrator
5. Caprivi IT Change Management
6. CA Process Automation
As of today, automation is a massive industry. It was worth $207.7 billion in 2017 and is expected to be worth a whopping $321.93 billion by 2024! To obtain this growth, we can expect things such as:
Automation isn’t just a buzzword floating around. It is a very real and massive industry. IT Automation is something to look forward to, as it entails streamlining of not just a few tasks, but of the industry as a whole! The future of automation is something we should be excited about as technologies such as advancements in AI and IoT are only going to make automated systems that much better for all to use!