6 ways automation will impact the enterprise in 2018

What tangible outcomes will automation deliver? An enhanced customer experience, for starters
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In 2018, “automation should be treated as an opportunity, not a boogeyman,” as we recently noted. 2018 promises to be an exciting year for realizing tangible outcomes from automation. Why, you ask? Well, this may very well be that single overarching term that brings the business and the technology mindset under the same umbrella with the common goal of enriching the experience of the end customer – both external and internal.

Join me as I walk through six ways in which business and IT can pair up to automate forward-thinking enterprises of the 21st century.

1. Customer

Customer experience is not just about the external consumer but also about the internal employee. An enriched customer experience can very well begin by starting with your employees. IT can inject healthy doses of automation to empower employees with timely availability of information and technology solutions. Ultimately, this equips employees with innovative ways to service external customers.

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2. Process

 Automation is an effective trigger to revisit existing processes and determine their applicability in today’s market. While it is true that repeatable processes warrant automation, it is important to make sure they’re being executed the right way. Automating the wrong processes proliferates chaos. Red Hat Enterprise Architect Tarek Abdelsalam advises that process automation covers the spectrum all the way from customer-facing business processes, the internal back-office processes, as well as IT processes which entail the elastic provisioning of resources for software applications.

3. Infrastructure

Restaurant chains like Panera Bread have changed the consumer experience with digital, self-service kiosks – voila! That’s infrastructure that matters to the business of customer service. Automate to innovate says David Egts, Red Hat Chief Technologist for Public Sector. I say anything routine in IT must be automated. And, if you think about it, there is always something routine in IT. Traditionally, automation has been focused on the applications domain, but technologies are now available that can automate virtual and physical environments in a seamless manner with common models and templates, says Azhar Sayeed, Red Hat’s Chief Architect for Telecommunications.

4. Applications

 If every company is a technology company, every consumer is a digital consumer. Software on your mobile phone is the new brand of the enterprise – thus, apps are that sweet spot where business meets the digital consumer. “Is there an app for it?” has replaced the “Can you hear me now?” question in the mind of the consumer. Continuous and automated deployments of the right applications with value-added, integrated feature sets is vital to the customer service of tomorrow. And, to service the external consumer, the internal developer must have the resources provisioned in a timely manner in environments that are conducive to rapid fail-fast iterations – hello containers – at scale. When single becomes plural, management and orchestration of containers warrants automation, as we recently reported.

5. Workforce

 Automation may not lead to significant job loss in 2018; in fact, it may even enhance the workforce. There are interesting stats about automation actually having resulted in more jobs in related domains. Take the case of Panera bread where they need more total workers to fulfill customer demand. Also, Germany has way more robots than the United States without incurring job losses. Next year will see increased adoption of the digital employees who not only augment the workforce but also collaborate with each other. Angela Schoelig at the University of Toronto has developed learning algorithms that allow robots to learn together and from each other. My colleague, Red Hat Chief Architect for Financial Services Anthony Golia, a champion of diversity and inclusion, asserts that automated algorithms can be used to effectively pair up mentors and mentees based upon interests, skill sets and career development goals. Automating the revitalization of the workforce – how about that!

6. Security

 “Adversaries-R-Us” effectively leverage automation to penetrate the enterprise through their continued ventures into different vulnerable entry points. They employ automated techniques to decrypt password algorithms and zero in on code vulnerabilities. Security violations are getting boardroom attention from a risk management perspective. Proactive patching is needed to combat these measures. Many of the recent security breaches could have been avoided with a secure platform and automated patching. Automated, proactive remediation is a good example of technology pairing up with business to address security, a key boardroom concern that isn’t going away anytime soon.

There you have it: Automation is a trend that will manifest itself with great gusto across the business of the enterprise and the business of IT. Here is to wishing automation a Happy New 2018!

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E.G. Nadhan is the Chief Architect and Strategist for North America at Red Hat. He provides thought leadership on various concepts including Cloud, Blockchain, Analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) through multiple channels including industry conferences, executive roundtables as well as customer-specific executive briefing sessions.