Automation the biggest productivity catalyst in the new digital economy

You only have to look through the headlines of late to see that the rise of robotics and automation is provoking mainstream debate. Will automation really steal our jobs or spell the end of manual labour as we know it? Or, will it open up a new host of exciting opportunities for UK IT teams to redefine their job roles and add new strategic value to the business? The latter is the idea that needs to be championed louder in our Fourth Industrial Revolution.

With each industrial revolution, there have been seismic shifts between generations. Those economies that embrace the changes, adapt to new technologies, new skills and new ways of working to constantly evolve are indeed the ones that thrive.

Whether business decision makers like it or not, businesses today are increasingly becoming shaped by new technologies, with back office processes impacting the ‘front end’.

Investment into automation, for example, should therefore not be seen as a burdensome cost, but as a worthy investment that can transform business processes and eliminate headaches for IT teams.

More importantly – automation can cater to the changing needs of IT staff, who will be looking to provide a seamless digital service to keep UK workers as productive as possible and to thrive in their roles with new skillsets.

Automate to innovate

Automation is certainly nothing new. However, it has recently been depicted as this hugely disruptive force that, coupled with a rise in robotics, will reshape the labour market. This isn’t necessarily the case.

> See also: Rise of the machines: automation in the digital economy

When implemented strategically, automation is barely visible and can deliver significant business value, reduce security and compliance risks and free up staff time to focus on more valuable tasks and new ways of working.

According to a survey by Security Week, over 700 million data records worldwide were compromised in 2015. IT compliance is integral to preventing breaches but often miss the mark due to a lack of coordination between security and operations teams.

Automating IT compliance and security processes fundamentally helps IT teams to discover, audit and govern security strategies whilst also reducing response times to known vulnerabilities.

It’s not just a matter of security. Using traditional scheduling and out dated processing tools can often overwhelm service/help desks, extending resolution times, increasing the cost of batch processing and weighing down staff.

Workload automation is another efficient and cost – effective solution that businesses are now using instead of batch processing, alleviating the headaches of juggling multiple job schedulers.

Another area going through transformation is user self – service, for example. By introducing more automated, digital tools, enterprise IT teams are enabling improved employee productivity and satisfaction. This will fundamentally reduce complexity for those that have to manage service and support requests for helpdesks.

Finally, the case for greater investment into workload automation tools becomes even more compelling as businesses look to harness data for actionable insights and to improve the customer experience.

Automation tools can certainly play a part here, effectively managing big data and extracting value from it that will truly enable companies to leverage existing enterprise skills, best practices and processes to manage this new digital environment. Automation fundamentally enables the faster deployment of applications and improved performance which results in an overall enhanced user experience.

Automation as enabler

The technical and strategic benefits of automation are clear for all to see. But what of the human element, and the broader yet integral context at play here?

Much has been discussed in the mainstream media as to the UK’s productivity shortfall. The government are all too aware of this, with business secretary, Sajid Javid calling productivity ‘the greatest economic challenge of our age’.

> See also: The rise of intelligent automation in the workplace

Furthermore, earlier this year the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that productivity among UK workers at the end of 2015 fell at the fastest pace since 2008. It is clear that more needs to be done to create and foster the most productive and efficient workforce, to contribute to the booming digital economy, and to ensure that this generation has the necessary skills to grow and progress in their careers.

It’s not just up to the government to address this, however. All areas of industry must play their part in fostering productivity and the IT industry should certainly not be exempt. This is why greater investment into processes such as automation are vital – not just for increased competitiveness, but to keep employees working to their absolute full potential, safe in the knowledge that they can rely on a robust and modern IT infrastructure that is fit for purpose.

IT decision makers and business leaders cannot ignore the Fourth Industrial Revolution or the potential of the digital economy. Those businesses that thrive will be those who are not constrained by past practices, and look to invest in new technologies to truly enable staff.

Automation needn’t be shrouded in doubt, or evoke images of widespread job loss. Rather, it should be celebrated as a key technological process that can reduce IT staffs’ workloads while enhancing overall employee productivity.

Each generation, each passing industrial revolution requires new technologies, new skills and new ways of working. Its time to enable employees throughout the UK to re imagine their job roles unlike ever before.

Sourced from Paul Appleby, EVP of digital transformation, BMC Software 

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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