CIOs with ambitious strategies for integration of processes are focusing on automation efforts, starting with automating repetitive IT tasks, according to Forrester Research.
But rather than adopting a series of solutions to automate specific functions, IT leaders and practitioners advise that focusing efforts with an end-to-end automated IT service platform is the better route to take. Here they explain the advantages.
Minimizing the impact of human error
“Overall, automation is meant to eliminate or at least minimize errors, increase productivity, and provide for a more unified view into data, reporting, and analytics,” says Milos Topic (@topicm), vice president and CIO, Saint Peter’s University.
An automated IT service platform helps avoid these mistakes, while providing alignment toward that unified view.
“Using an automated IT service platform takes human error out of the equation,” says senior technical writer, Will Kelly (@willkelly). “Workflow automation enforces the standardization of auditable and documented processes. It also helps prevent ‘ITSM empires,’ where a team member tries to build processes and workflows on their own that don’t align with operational reality.”
Furthermore, IT teams tend to be notoriously overburdened and often struggle to keep pace with the demand for seamless experiences and keeping data secure. Here, automation has big benefits.
“IT teams are tasked to wear many hats and often install, build, and test hardware, as well as software on sophisticated complex computer systems,” says Scott Schober (@ScottBVS), CEO of Berkeley Varitronics Systems.
“In addition to upkeep and maintenance,” he continues, “IT professionals have ‘inherited’ the additional task of keeping their computer networks secure. To accomplish all this effectively, they have turned to automated IT service platforms. These automated service models remove the human element as much as possible to increase efficiencies in speed, reliability, and performance of big data analytics.”
Another efficiency: By automating mundane service requests and tasks, enterprises can make best use of scarce human resources.
“The more we can free up people from transactional activities in organizations, the more we can utilize their full potential to move the needle,” says Arasalan Khan (@ArsalanAKhan), a speaker and advisor on strategy, politics, innovation, culture, and execution. “An automated IT services platform not only centralizes the management of common IT services, such as account creation, cloud management, security patching, etc., but it also provides the ability to spot trends and address them proactively.”
Specifically, Khan says that such a platform enables IT professionals to strategically engage in future planning and governance; tactically improve systems management and business processes; and operationally do more with less.
Fulfilling the need for speed
In terms of increasing technology spend while decreasing cost of ownership, the pace of business never slows and yet IT must keep up. That’s where an automated IT service platform can help.
“IT teams are under pressure to provide faster and better service on new platforms deployed through digital transformation programs, as well as mission-critical business processes running on legacy platforms,” explains Isaac Sacolick (@nyike), president of StarCIO and author of Driving Digital.
“Successful IT teams must focus on exceeding service level objectives,” he adds, “and integrating a mix of collaboration, monitoring, automation, analytics, and other capabilities to drive end-user satisfaction, quality, and productivity. That’s a tall order, and many IT teams can get farther faster by utilizing an IT service platform rather than piecemealing together different solutions.”
David Geer (@geercom), owner of Geer Communications, agrees: “Automated IT services platforms use seamless integrations and intelligent automation to accelerate IT jobs and resolve trouble tickets across the enterprise’s IT landscape, saving time, money, errors, and person-hours. Piecemeal solutions are far too disconnected and manually orchestrated to keep up.”
Toward a more secure enterprise
Another area where an automated IT services platform can have significant impact is data security. Considering the sophistication of hacks and expansion of the attack surface, automation can help companies move from reactive to proactive.
“Using systems thinking and looking at users and data holistically can help business and security leaders to deploy better strategies that stop preventable breaches,” says Steve Tout (@stevetout), senior advisor at Optiv Security. “In the next industrial revolution, automation and integration can unite platforms and services to enhance privacy and security, deliver unprecedented visibility and speed to detect and mitigate security incidents.”
Accelerated detection and remediation are the results of incorporating emerging technologies into the automated platform, says Brian Thomas (@DivergentCIO), CIO of Coruzant Technologies.
“Cybersecurity products have been and are increasingly incorporating more AI technology into their platforms and appliances, due to the sheer number of daily attacks on company networks,” he says. “Utilizing AI technology, these tools not only can learn over time, but they have the ability to immediately detect, alert, and disable threats on the spot — even if it is something that it is not familiar with or has ever seen.”
Chaos averted, synergy achieved
Overall, IT leaders believe a streamlined, automated service platform helps avoid the risks that disconnected solutions generate.
“Piecemeal IT service management solutions promote fragmented processes and workflows, often requiring lots of human intervention,” Kelly says. “Such processes and workflows can also be challenging to replicate and audit.”
Also, a single, automation platform offers critical integration, adds Tom Henderson (@extremelabs), principal researcher at ExtremeLabs: “Most product groupings are designed to work well together, even after adding acquisitions. Cobbled infrastructure doesn’t have that slight advantage.”
Another way of saying it is “synergy,” says Michael Overly, partner, Foley & Lardner LLP.
“Instead of various individual systems operating or trying to operate together, you have an overarching automated solution bringing order to, all too frequently, chaos. As with anything, there are pros and cons. Overall, in my experience, automated platforms provide the synergistic value that justifies the risk.”
For more information on the benefits of an automated IT service platform, check out BMC Helix ITSM, which uses cognitive automation technologies to transform service management.