Automation Predictions for 2021

By Darrell Maronde, Product Marketing Manager (RunMyJobs®), Redwood Software

What do your peers see in the year ahead in the world of process automation and orchestration? From conversations with IT leaders and decades of experience, Redwood shares its outlook for 2021.

Cost-reduction remains a priority

Regardless of the increasing demands to deliver more reliable, better customer experiences, and investment needed for digital transformation, cost-reduction will remain a significant driver of IT initiatives.

Budgets will not be increased and may even decrease in 2021.

Redwood’s guidance: Look to consolidate disparate automation tools in favor of a modern automation platform with wide integration support for applications and web services, hybrid cloud support, and cost-and-effort-reducing SaaS delivery model.

Refocus of processes to leverage skills

With increased needs to support and drive strategic goals for transformation and customer experience, staff must spend less time “firefighting” and more time on innovation.

Automation will be leveraged to free up the “best and brightest” from tedious manual tasks and reduce the overall need for human intervention.

In support of technical transformation, the workforce will be similarly be transformed, with skills and knowledge around automation extended throughout the IT organization.

Redwood’s guidance: Automate manual runbook exception-handling within your processes. Ensure your automation platform offers “low-code” development features that empower your less-experienced staff, such as drag-and-drop process editing, pre-built templates and wizards.

A risk of returning to “business as usual”

As workers shifted from the office to their homes, existing processes that were inefficient or siloed and depend on human intervention for continuity were exposed. In many cases these inefficiencies and outright broken processes had negative impact on customer experience.

There’s a risk that as conditions improve and vaccines allow more return to in-office work that those lessons will be set aside. If that happens, those workflows will remain in place and the issues will reveal themselves again in the future. Organizations that don’t take advantage of what they discovered miss opportunities for efficiencies and improved customer experience.

Redwood’s guidance: Resolve to address the inefficiencies and breakdowns in processes to improve your ability to adapt in the future and improve your day-to-day operations. If your current automation tools aren’t up to the challenge, start looking: migrating is less effort, risk and time than you think.

Digital transformation: accelerated urgency, wider scope

The priority and timelines for digital transformation will both increase significantly. Going remote revealed how much can be done and gained through distributed and cloud platforms.

There is now a heightened ambition, and a better understanding that the potential efficiencies and payback from the transformation can be much greater. However, this will likely widen the scope of initiatives.

We expect the “start date” for transformation projects to move up, and the “end date” to extend.  Early adoption of automation systems and processes to support the transformation and future state will be key to success and meeting milestones.

Redwood’s guidance: Begin planning for automation early , and ensure that IT teams have access to a modern automation platform that supports hybrid environments to ensure a seamless, lower-risk transformation.

Resilience, reliability and security become core values

Business continuity, reliability and security of the systems and processes will be essential areas of focus, and will be considered non-negotiable, fundamental “table stakes” for operation and delivery of services.

Automation will be a critical consideration, especially across what have traditionally been operational silos, and will be planned earlier in the development cycle.

Redwood’s guidance: Engage with automation teams early and incorporate process orchestration in a DevOps approach. Identify and close process gaps so they are automated and monitored through one system and one “pane of glass.” Take advantage of the reliability and scalability of SaaS for your automation platform.

IT will begin a real focus on customer experience

The business environment has undergone significant changes as customers have had increased opportunity to re-evaluate what, where and how they buy. Customers have also been exposed to operational and process flaws of their vendors.

IT will begin monitoring customer value metrics in addition to operational KPIs to understand impacts on service delivery and customer experience.

Automation will connect processes and systems to remove dependencies on manual intervention and handover for services.

Redwood’s guidance: Orchestrate processes end-to-end within a single automation system — especially those that impact customers — and leverage predictive SLA to head off problems before they occur.

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