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Automation, and the Challenge of Variety

Automation is definitely in fashion. IT leaders are wise to the opportunity to save time and resource, but need to deal with the variety of automation projects, how to showcase their value to the rest of the business but also, fully reap the benefits of this latest technology for their own department.

Every automation project is different, varying by person, process, department, and organization – particularly when it comes to the exact mix of automation and human work. Preparing for this variety is critical, especially as more deployments are requested from across the business, so categorization is vital.

Categorising Automation

We asked analyst and advisor Neil Ward-Dutton about automation projects, and he suggested three types of work that can use automation, to differing degrees:

  • Prescriptive – routine work, that’s rules-based. This includes simple customer enquiries or basic supplier interactions.
  • Transactional – work based on a definable process, but that still requires human involvement to make it happen (eg. customer on-boarding).
  • Exploratory –when you know what you’re trying to achieve, but not what will need to be done in advance. In other words, more investigative work, usually reliant on people with specific training – such as complaints management.

With any project fitting into one of these three general types, any company can create a template architecture for each. These could then be used as a first-step basis for any automation projects, across any department, helping to deploy faster and efficiently.

Selling it in

More automation means more data. This may seem obvious, but perhaps only to IT teams and those used to working with data every day. With automated processes creating data as they go, the door is opened to real time insights across the whole business – from invoicing patterns to online product trends to fraud detection.

Making this clear to lines of business can help them appreciate the true value of automation, and understand the requirements of the project. After all, real time data could be fed through analysis or data visualization tools to create the kind of ‘live insights’ that just weren’t available before. And that means faster, better decisions that help teams take their work to the next level.

Reaping the immediate benefits

The benefits may be most exciting in the IT team, as we’ll soon see automation and AI technologies embedded in the actual tools used for architecture and development. For developers it could mean an ‘AI Assistant’ that suggests ways to connect databases, or automatic predictions of possible issues, based on current versions of products or dev tools. Either way, productivity will be boosted, allowing resources to focus on more value – add tasks.

If you want to find out more about how new technologies are resonating with business decision makers, please read our latest report.