It used to be that IT was a completely separate, almost stand-alone function in business. Each component existed in its own silo, working independently of others. Today, successful businesses realize that this fragmented, isolated approach to IT is not only dated, but it’s something that can ultimately damage the business in the long run. These forward thinking organizations realize that IT is the lifeblood of any business and IT automation is the glue that holds everything together.
The Rise of the Back Office
When it comes to automation, the back office is where most businesses start off. The reason is simple. Placing humans in charge of repetitive, manual tasks leaves a lot of room for error. Those errors can not only damage a company’s reputation but cost them profits as well. The simplest solution? Let technology do the heavy lifting, reducing error and freeing up personnel to focus on more business critical tasks.
Back office automation is here to stay. In fact, it’s expected to continue to grow as we push further into 2014 and beyond. This is because more and more organizations are recognizing how manual labor is not cost-effective, nor is it scalable. As your business grows, the need for these daily, repetitive tasks will likely increase accordingly. The question then becomes, do we hire more people or find a better solution? The answer to that question is increasingly becoming automation – across just about every industry.
Embracing Collaborative IT Automation
In years past, critical business functions like accounting were left to human workers. The idea was that having living, thinking beings with skills and analytical minds checking the numbers was the wisest choice. It’s becoming increasingly evident that this is not the case. In fact, when you factor in time, resources and human error, you’ve got a recipe for disaster. But we can’t simply turn over all of the important financial functions of a business to a computer, right?
That’s where the concept of collaborative automation comes into play. This combines the power, accuracy and efficiency of process automation with the importance of human input when needed. As part of this strategy, the automation process will run until the point at which a human decision is required. At that point, the appropriate parties are notified. They perform whatever task is required and then automation takes over again.
Cloud = Cohesiveness
Years ago, it would have been nearly impossible to imagine that there could be instant and cohesive consistency across all business functions. This is why we had the silo effect. Nowadays, IT automation has torn down the barriers that kept departments segregated, and allowed for the execution and coordination of every single business process, regardless of department, systems and applications being used and even geographic location. This is due to the rise of cloud technology and the way it goes hand in hand with automation.
This isn’t some fly-by-night concept, either. In fact, Gartner has predicted that by as early as the year 2017, more than half of enterprises in existence will have migrated to the hybrid cloud model. As this begins to transpire, the need for automation solutions will also begin to increase, since this is needed to most effectively connect cloud services, in-house applications and virtual activities. The result will be a completely unified approach to the entire business process, regardless of where or how they happen to be managed.
Self-Service Will Be King
Another trend we’re seeing is that of the increasing push to do more with less. Our society – both personal and professional – is becoming more and more used to getting whatever we want, whenever we want it and it’s something that people have come to expect. This on-demand attitude is making it difficult for IT professionals to keep up with the increasing demands. As a solution, businesses will begin to leverage more self-service options and more comprehensive IT automation tools, thus shifting ownership either to the end-user or to technology.
From a Business Standpoint
As automation begins to become more of an integral part of not just the back office, but all business functions across entire enterprises, the result will be greater standards of accuracy, accountability and speed. Costs will come down even as output and efficiency increase, and entire organizations will run more smoothly because all applications, systems, platforms and technologies will be working together cohesively. This will all lead to increased competitive advantage and ongoing success as we navigate the remainder of 2014, and well into the future.
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