Automation minimizes human input and interaction. From an IT perspective, there are repeatable processes, tedious tasks, and a slew of logical steps that we know we will do over and over again, and Automation executes such tasks more safely, quickly, and consistently by removing manual touchpoints from operations. From ITSM notification systems to RPA software, Automation moves through networks and systems, accomplishing the same job as a human, and can be utilized in a very powerful way for the appropriate verticals, completing day- or week-long processes in minutes.
With Automation, the goal is to get back time. Instead of manually working tickets, or dealing with day-to-day firefights, the goal is understanding what’s being accomplished most of the time, removing those repetitive, monotonous tasks off your plate, and focusing on new products and strategies more pertinent to the organization. Whether provisioning, reproducing virtual machines, or handling critical infrastructure data, Automation follows the logical path to complete the task, streamlining processes and ensuring quality assurance.
As people, when we’re interfacing with computers, we’re traditionally looking at graphical user interfaces (GUI). With GUIs, manual approaches to documentation, interaction, and support are inefficient in comparison to what is expected going forward: software talking to software. By taking advantage of these new technological advancements, Automation can be used to zero in on the logical steps in a faster, more efficient, and more consistent manner.
In today’s application development, code is rarely developed from scratch. Normally, pre-written pieces of software are going to expedite the product delivery. Within IT systems, software is set up like the layers of an onion. When an operating system communicates with hardware, a wrapper is created to make operations run more efficiently. For example, a .NET framework is wrapped within Windows, allowing shortcuts, and a GUI on top of PowerShell gives more shortcuts, making it easier for administrators to write code. It’s like a big onion with layers of interacting shortcuts: a GUI calls PowerShell commands that call .NET commands that call C commands. The closer to the hardware the more code there is.
Looking ahead at trends in the future, there will be low code and no code. With low code, the parameters are more lenient. Using a heavily GUI-driven interface, engineers must connect the dots between the onion layers with strong integrations to perform basic Automation. Using low code, it’s necessary to step back, review the organization’s technology capabilities, and decide if there are Automation integrations with the organization’s current software. With no code, Devs are still going to have to do the majority of the labor, but its drag-and-drop design can be accomplished with less skill. Importantly, if there are limitations in the software, or if an error occurs during the integration, there’s no way to get around it without the organization fixing it as a feature enhancement or future update.
From an application perspective, organizations are becoming Automation savvy, and software developers are aware that organizations are looking for Automation opportunities. With each new software iteration, products are built with Automation in mind, and these new tools make it easier to find those logical processes when implementing Automation throughout multiple IT environments. Often, products come with workflow options, or they only require a strong external API to interface with a piece of software. This has set a precedent. It is becoming standard. No one wants to be behind the technology curve. Applications utilizing Automation and backend APIs are more consistent, precise, and versatile than a GUI.
In the last decades, automated processes have become flexible, practical tools within IT environments, and artificial intelligence and machine learning seem to be the next step toward machines making human decisions. Such an idea might conjure dystopian images of SkyNet and terminators, yet currently, on social media platforms, AI and machine learning are used to track facial features, overlay graphics seamlessly, and create deepfake videos instantly without the need of experienced digital artists or extra hardware. Realistically, within the IT landscape, the true fear of AI and machine learning is far less cinematic. Imagine a hacker using AI tools to teach machines to locate security holes in a system, and on the other side, another set of machine learning tools searches for, blocks, and fixes such types of suspicious activities.
From the point of view of Automation costs, complexity and volume are key variables. Consider onboarding tens of thousands of people. In this instance, it’s easy to demonstrate short-term value because Automation significantly reduces the time it takes to accomplish the task from days to minutes. When thinking about long-term Automation, the decision-making needs to revolve around care and feeding. Organizations must continually innovate their processes and systems, investigating different tools to move forward. If an organization identifies Automation opportunities and implements them successfully, the superior accuracy, speed, and security of automated processes can offer a high return on a long-term investment.
Whether or not Automation will eliminate or create positions within the IT world is a common concern. When it comes to data entry and manual processes, it will be rare to see these kinds of positions in the future since Automation will carry out that type of work. Keeping this in mind, roles will evolve as Automation matures within an organization. It’s a misnomer that Automation is a set-it-and-forget-it component, that once the integration is over everything operates without the need of diligent maintenance. It’s unrealistic to believe Automation itself will run without requiring further adjustments and updates. It doesn’t work like that. Operational processes modify. Business systems change. Tools get better. Flycast Partners views Automation as a dynamic element of IT technologies that will mature and provide critical support alongside the people that help develop the most successful innovations.