Successfully Marrying IT Process Automation Tools with Cloud Technology

IT Process Automation in the Cloud AgeAs technology evolves, more and more businesses of every shape, size and industry are turning to the cloud for enhanced flexibility, improved efficiency and the opportunity for global advancement. Coincidentally, IT process automation also offers many of the same benefits, which makes the two a very attractive combination. Let’s take a look at how ITPA tools are currently work within the cloud and how to best choose the ones that will most benefit your business.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that if you’re in the market for an automation product that you’d like to leverage along with cloud technology, you must clearly outline what your goals and strategies are ahead of time. There are plenty of options to choose from, and quite frankly, it can be downright mind boggling to figure out which option makes the most sense for your particular business. You must start by clearly defining what you want to accomplish and then compare your options to find the product that is most closely aligned with your needs.

The next thing to consider is how it will integrate with your current system. There’s no point in implementing a new IT process automation tool if it’s going to function as just another fragmented program in and of itself. You’ll only be creating more work and a bigger headache, and it’s very unlikely you’ll accomplish that set of goals you’ve laid out. You need to find a product that not only works in the cloud, but also provides easy integration with legacy systems. The goal is to make the transition as seamless as possible and to enhance, not hinder, the functionality of your IT operation and the organization as a whole.

Another important factor to consider when marrying cloud with IT process automation is security. These days, it’s absolutely critical that businesses do their due diligence when managing sensitive, proprietary and confidential data to avoid a potential security breach. The nature of the cloud makes it inherently riskier than systems that are completely housed on premises. Provided that the IT process automation product that you choose is of good quality and integrates well with your existing systems, the security issue can be resolved, since it allows you to achieve the best of both worlds – keeping confidential information safely in-house while still leveraging the benefits of cloud technology.

Finally, if you’re going to be successful at leveraging both cloud and IT process automation, you must find a way to adjust your thinking (and that of your entire team) from the older, more opportunistic approach to one that is much more holistic. The old system of thought was that each department or function could use its own automation tool to make their job more efficient. The problem is, not only do you end up with way too many tools, but the end result is fragmented and inherently inefficient, ultimately defeating the purpose of automating altogether.

The only way to really bring the two pieces together successfully is to look at automation as a “big picture” solution – a tool that can and should become an interdepartmental bridge that creates a more systematic approach to operational efficiency. Rather than many individually beneficial tools, automation can be the one big problem solver that brings everything together and improves the business as a whole. As such, the IT process automation tool you select should be designed to work across all systems.

Cloud technology is most certainly the future of business success. So is IT process automation. Combining the two can provide your organization with the best of both worlds, but you have to first know what to look for if you’re going to piece together a system that will truly boost your business to the next level. By following the guidelines provided here, you’ll be poised to create an environment in which cloud and automation will help streamline your operations and catapult your business into success, both now and well into the future.

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IT Process Automation Survival Guide

IT Automation Trends: What to Expect in 2014 and Beyond

IT-automation-trends-2014It 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.

Still not on the automation bandwagon? What are you waiting for? Don’t get left behind. Click here to start your free trial today. 

How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes

Be Careful – What’s Software Free Out there May Cost You in the End!

Free_SoftwareWho doesn’t love getting something for nothing – especially when you’re working with a limited budget and have to find creative ways to keep your business running efficiently, such as with IT automation tools, without breaking the bank? While some of the products out there that are being offered for free are great, and can serve a purpose for your business, some of aren’t quite so beneficial after all. In fact, turning to the wrong type of “freebie” can actually end up costing you more money in the long run. Here’s how:

First of all, free products typically focus on providing a single-use solution. In other words, they’re designed to address one or maybe two problems that you or your team may be facing, but they aren’t all-encompassing. This is all fine and good until you step back and realize you’ve got a dozen different tools running at the same time, and none of them are actually working together. In some cases, they may even be working against each other. The result of this fragmented approach is decreased efficiency and increased chance of human error, both of which can be costly to your business.

Secondly, free products are not usually designed to support a long term strategy, but rather to fix a present need. Any successful business person knows that in order to continue to be profitable, there must be a strategy in place that will account for both the present and the future. Without an effective long term plan, you’ll only be able to realize short term goals, and you may find your tools falling short over time. IT automation tools that you purchase, on the other hand, are much more robust and can be figured into the big picture and help you achieve long term goals.

Another way that free products may end up costing you in the end is that they typically lack real substance. When they’re built to be free, they’re usually missing several key components that could really take your business to the next level. This means your automation won’t be running on all cylinders and the results will ultimately fall short. Some are even temporary, so you may find yourself with no other choice but to purchase the full product in the end just to avoid having to start over again. If the full version isn’t much better than the free one, you’ve wasted valuable money that could have been spent on a better product.

Finally, there’s the age old theory that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re going to place your trust in a free product, you’d better make sure you understand the motive behind the giveaway. These businesses are in it to make money too, and giving everything away isn’t going to do them any good….unless they can somehow rope you in via their free product to have to pay for other things, such as ongoing support or add-ons. Before you know it, that “free” tool has suddenly cost you more than it would have to simply purchase a quality product outright.

In short, while availing yourself of free products may seem to make smart business sense upfront, in the long run it may end up costing you more. Do you really want to take chances on a half-rate product that could end up doing the exact opposite of what it was designed for by actually costing money and hindering productivity and efficiency? The wisest choice, at least when it comes to automation, is to do your homework and select a quality tool that isn’t free, but will produce the benefits your business needs over the long haul.

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