This article was published in 2022 at a time when the pandemic was accelerating digital transformation for many organizations. Now in 2024, business process automation has come a long way as enterprises continue to evolve cloud strategies and incorporate emerging technologies such as AI. See what automation expert and Redwood Chief Product Officer Abhijit Kakhandiki is predicting for this year in his post Automation ROI, Hyperautomation, Generative AI for Automation — What’s Coming in 2024.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations to rapidly implement digital-first services, operations and business models. Within months, traditional in-person industries including education, retail, healthcare and banking had to go almost completely virtual.
These accelerated transformations had a profound impact on consumers. E-commerce sales increased over 80% from 2019, with 70% of consumers now using hybrid or omnichannel shopping. As McKinsey puts it, COVID-19 has “accelerated the digitization of customer interactions by several years.”
This increased use of digital-first services has caused consumer expectations to evolve as well, as consumers become more accustomed to — and knowledgeable of — the digital experiences available to them. Organizations will need to build innovative, engaging, digital-first experiences that can attract and retain customers, while distinguishing the brand from competitors.
This, however, poses a considerable challenge. IT teams are already dealing with anemic budgets and short staffing, spending too much time just keeping the lights on. A survey by Mulesoft found that 51% of business partners are frustrated with the time it takes IT to deliver on digital projects. Any increase in digital requirements will only compound these problems.
As organizations move into 2022 and beyond, they will be forced to rely on digital innovations in order to stay ahead of market demands. This accelerated transformation will require new processes and applications, with cloud-native, heterogeneous environments and data-heavy technologies such as AI.
But how will IT meet these challenges?
Automation will need to play a major role in both alleviating overworked IT teams and managing cross-platform processes at scale. Without reductions in manual processes, IT teams will not be able to meet the organization’s customer experience goals.
How IT Automation Can Simplify Digital Initiatives
Many organizations successfully transitioned to digital-first services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years into the crisis, those organizations are leveraging a host of new technologies to differentiate themselves from competitors. This includes the use of cloud-native platforms, edge computing and big data to support AI across a variety of departments and business functions.
Automation is going to be critical in bringing these new, digital-first services to scale. As the volume of processes and workloads continues to increase, IT teams find themselves unable to manually manage day-to-day operations. Over 60% of CIOs reported that the complexity of their cloud environments have surpassed the human ability to manage.
Managing Complex Cloud Environments
2022 will see the trend toward cloud-native services continue. Budgets for on-premises hardware have declined sharply in recent years as expenditures shift to meet demands for hosted and cloud-based services.
However, those cloud-based services are, in many cases, not designed for extensibility. As organizations bring in more cloud-native platforms, IT teams are increasingly hampered by integration challenges, managing complex workloads across disparate systems.
IT teams do not have the resources to manually manage complex cloud environments. This makes automation a key factor in providing 24/7, real-time services in support of customer experience initiatives. Spiceworks Ziff Davis found that 71% of enterprises plan to leverage IT automation technologies in 2022, compared to just 61% in 2021.
The right IT automation platform can make it simple to manage cross-platform workloads without the need for human intervention. This enables IT professionals to spend less time on day-to-day tasks and more time on innovative projects. At the same time, IT automation platforms can be used to improve availability by deploying cloud-based resources to meet demand in real-time.
Seamless Integrations For Rapid Change
As organizations prepare for a post-pandemic world, CEOs are gearing up for acquisitions and new partnerships, seeking to create ecosystems that can provide new value to customers. At the same time, Gartner expects a bevy of emerging technologies to radically transform organizations over the next five years. These technologies include:
- Data fabric deployments
- Generative AI
- Edge networks
- Composable, API-only SaaS
In order to stay ahead of consumer expectations and other unforeseen circumstances, organizations will need to rapidly implement new tools and technologies. However, a study by Mulesoft found that integration challenges were hampering digital initiatives in 85% of organizations.
IT automation platforms are designed as orchestration engines, providing programmatic integrations that make it easy to reliably connect disparate endpoints. This includes the use of web services such as REST or SOAP, which can be assembled in minutes using simple API wizards.
By integrating disparate technologies through a single orchestration tool, such as an IT automation platform, organizations are able to manage and monitor a wide variety of processes and applications from a single point of control.
More importantly, as organizations become more reliant on cloud-native platforms, having a cloud-native IT automation solution can facilitate digital initiatives by simplifying hybrid- and multi-cloud workloads.
Meeting New Regulatory Requirements
Governance and security are set to become even bigger challenges in 2022 and beyond. Organizations rely on a variety of security tools and are increasingly collecting — and processing — data at the edge as concepts such as the distributed enterprise, composability and democratized architectures become commonplace. These changes will make it increasingly difficult to maintain compliance across the enterprise.
At the same time, external regulations surrounding data and AI continue to evolve as new threats emerge. Organizations must be prepared to quickly cascade changes across environments in order to adapt to fluid security situations. Having multiple automation solutions deployed in silos hampers the organization’s ability to quickly adapt. But, by bringing cross-platform processes under a single pane of control, those changes can be pushed across environments, regardless of the underlying technology, operating system or even geographic location.
Setting A Foundation For Digital Transformation
Gartner explains in its report, “Top Strategic Technology Trends For 2022” that “increased focuses on growth, digitalization and operational excellence have highlighted a need for better, more widespread automation.”
However, most organizations continue to rely on a myriad of automation tools, including custom scripts and in-house applications, deploying job scheduling software and task automation tools in silos. This makes it difficult to manage processes across silos, hampering transformation efforts.
Extensible IT automation platforms can make it possible for organizations to rapidly integrate new tools and to centralize control over key business and IT processes. This gives organizations a reliable foundation for quickly meeting new challenges.
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About The Author
Darrell Maronde is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Redwood’s workload automation solutions. He has more than 15 years of product marketing experience with on-prem and SaaS software, including solutions for IT and operations.