2020 has been a year of disruption. From lockdowns to economic upheavals, organizations are scrambling to adapt and, increasingly, are turning to automation as barriers to buy-in dissolve.
Automation and Orchestration Drive Adaptability
The novel coronavirus has placed unexpected pressures on businesses. Many locations still require employees to work remotely. Manufacturers and fulfillment centers are rethinking processes to ensure social distancing, while schools implement virtual learning and retailers manage a surge in online traffic.
Few (if any) expected the migration to cloud in 2008-2009 to lead to new, market-disrupting business models. Likewise, it is difficult for business leaders to predict how necessary adaptations to the current crisis will impact markets in the long-term.
- Gartner surveys suggest only 12% of business leaders have high confidence in their ability to navigate COVID-19-related disruptions
- IDC analysts expect digital transformation spending to increase 20%
- Bain & Company analysts expect the number of companies scaling their automation to double in the next two years
- Ernst & Young analysts expect 41% of businesses to accelerate their automation
To meet these challenges, organizations are automating processes and consolidating tools to reduce operating costs, implementing new technologies, and looking for innovative ways to adapt.
Response to the current crisis ultimately requires new processes, tools, and technologies for both the business and IT. But during an economic downturn, most organizations are reluctant to implement new tools across the business, citing cost concerns. Instead, the knee-jerk reaction is to consolidate tools, leaving IT in a bind as it navigates both pandemic- and economic-related circumstances.
Automating for Efficiency
Most IT departments use multiple job schedulers to automate and manage processes and workloads. This includes native schedulers for disparate platforms, with custom scripts managing data and dependencies between these platforms.
Many of these processes and schedulers can be consolidated into a single solution. Modern workload automation solutions, for example, enable IT to manage dependencies across diverse tools and technologies, reducing the need for custom scripts and multiple automation tools.
Instead of jumping from scheduler to scheduler, IT can manage end-to-end processes from a single location.
Several case studies show the efficiencies that can be gained through consolidation:
- PrimeSource reduced ETL process times by 90%
- The Retail Equation consolidated a 131-step workflow into 5 steps
- ASM International turned a 26-hour process into a 25-minute process
Integration Drives Innovation
Organizations are cutting spending while focusing on efficiencies derived from process automation. This provides a good argument for consolidating schedulers and processes. But in order to consolidate into a single solution, that solution needs to be capable of integrating disparate tools. This can be accomplished through several methods:
- Prebuilt, platform-agnostic actions
- Native integrations
- Low-code API accessibility
Modern workload automation solutions and enterprise job schedulers often provide multiple methods of integration, enabling IT to integrate and coordinate a limitless variety of tools and technologies.
These methods of integration, as opposed to custom scripts, make it possible for IT to quickly incorporate data from new sources, supporting the business as it implements new applications, IoT platforms, and systems.
Aside from the benefits given to innovation, the ability to seamlessly integrate disparate tools makes it possible for IT to manage automated processes across the enterprise from a single pane of glass.
Business needs are rapidly evolving.
Stay ahead of new business trends and demands with unified workload automation.
Meeting Demand in Real-Time
IT departments in multiple industries, from retail and finance to healthcare and education, are seeing a dramatic increase in data. The same can be said of industries relying heavily on manual work, such as manufacturing, as these industries are seeing a push to implement more IoT solutions.
Consumers, unwilling or in many cases unable to visit brick-and-mortar stores, are completing more of their shopping online, causing web traffic to spike for many online retailers. In order to meet these unexpected spikes in demand, businesses must be prepared to bring new servers on in real-time.
Workload automation and enterprise job schedulers, monitoring demand in real-time and applying machine learning to anticipate trends, can be used to provision and deprovision machines as needed. Using drag-and-drop workflow designers, IT can quickly develop end-to-end processes that connect applications and online services to the necessary resources on-demand, regardless of the cloud platforms involved.
Additionally, building end-to-end processes makes it possible to streamline data pipelines, moving data between systems, employees, and customers without waiting for manual handoffs or relying on custom scripts.
Orchestration Improves Services
Unified automation platforms enable IT to automate, monitor, and maintain processes from a single pane of glass. If a job fails, IT does not have to pull reports from multiple locations in order to identify the issue.
Workload automation and enterprise job schedulers provide a single location for IT to access log files, real-time views, and system reports. Additionally, these schedulers can be used to deliver alerts to IT personnel via a variety of methods, such as SMS, email, or push notifications. Auto-remediation workflows can also be configured to create self-healing processes that do not require manual intervention when a job fails or delays.
As businesses increase the use of automation and other digital transformation initiatives, automated processes will play an increasingly important role in the day-to-day functions of business personnel.
Self-service portals make it possible for business users (and help desk teams) to monitor and manage automated processes that are critical to their roles. For example, users can trigger file transfers, provision servers, or more complex processes for onboarding or creating customer accounts.
Access to critical processes is an important step in building efficiencies into work-from-home practices -with the additional benefit of reducing IT’s workload.
Automation 24/7, from Anywhere
Business personnel are not the only employees working from home. Many IT personnel find themselves remoting in as well. In order to give IT more control over their automated systems, IT can implement mobile applications and web consoles designed to give users fast access to the critical systems the business relies on, regardless of location or time of day.
Preparing for Future Change
Gartner analysts expect that almost 50% of employees will work remotely at least part of the week after COVID-19-related crises come to an end. By then, industries from retail to financial services, education to healthcare and manufacturing will have implemented significant changes to their practices and processes, changes that make the organization more resilient, efficient, and virtual.
2020 is a formative year for businesses and IT organizations. It is an opportunity to build flexible environments and adaptive processes, and to prepare for a future of change.
Business is changing. Technology is changing. IT is changing.
Integrate, automate, and orchestrate faster with a unified workload automation platform for the enterprise.
Brian is a staff writer for the IT Automation without Boundaries blog, where he covers IT news, events, and thought leadership. He has written for several publications around the New York City-metro area, both in print and online, and received his B.A. in journalism from Rowan University. When he’s not writing about IT orchestration and modernization, he’s nose-deep in a good book or building Lego spaceships with his kids.