IT Management: Resolutions for business and IT
Enterprise technology in 2013 will help businesses of all sizes achieve levels of automation and efficiency previously only found in larger organizations.
You often mark the New Year with resolutions such as losing weight, learning a new skill or doing something you’ve put off for too long. Likewise, organizations often start the year with a renewed and practical look at what drives their businesses and how they can improve. The need to contend in a faster, bigger and more competitive market is now a reality for every organization of every size.
The traditional barriers to enterprise-level automation have been broken, even for smaller organizations. This is the year that companies need to make “resolutions” to get their enterprise processes in order and start to get more from their IT and business process investments. It’s a critical ingredient for success.
Spending on the rise
Gartner Inc. predicts that worldwide IT spending in 2013 will be $3.7 trillion. That’s a 4.2 percent increase over 2012. It also predicts the fastest-growing segment of the IT industry will be enterprise software (according to Gartner data reported at Information-Age.com). All of this enterprise software is designed to increase productivity and enable business results, but it goes nowhere without automation. And that automation has to exist on an enterprise level.
Even when using enterprise software, many organizations still spend considerable time on manual tasks. These tasks are in place to bridge processes that span across numerous departments, business units, platforms, applications or geographic locations. While this might work as a sort of “process patch,” it really means these companies don’t get the most out of their enterprise-wide investments. It also means there are risky, error-prone manual processes in operation that can slow progress and limit the organization’s competitive edge.
In 2013, companies have to shake this old and fractured view of automation. They need to target their time-consuming, imprecise processes in a holistic way. They must find innovative ways to automate, connect and improve these processes across traditional operational silos.
Once they see the big picture of how their critical processes should work together, business and IT leadership will work together in a much more productive and efficient manner. Enterprises will succeed in using IT resources on a company-wide scale to realize measurable and significant value. They’ll connect every process they can—from data gathering and analytics to mobile applications and security—for faster, more-accurate and more-predictable results. This year, more companies need to take advantage of new opportunities for strategic improvement through enterprise-level automation.
Remote control from the cloud
Many companies are already using cloud-based solutions to share applications, information and to provide collaborative resources. That’s because cloud solutions offer tremendous advantages in cost, scalability and availability. This year, companies will demand even more from cloud-based services—including automation.
Large-scale automation used to mean large-scale implementations with hardware, software and other major capital expenses. That’s simply not the case anymore. Companies can now use cloud-based Automation as a Service for faster and better results than before. Using these cloud-based automation services, subscribers can both apply and control process automation anywhere, anytime. It’s less expensive and requires less effort.
Business and IT professionals can build automated processes that are easier to implement, change and expand. Because cloud-based automation can now be provided as a service without having to install and maintain a large hardware or software footprint, it makes process automation much simpler to manage and use. Cloud-based automation will quickly become a secure “remote control” for key activities, as it can accelerate and connect business-critical tasks for strategic advantage.
Success in the app zone
The IT market is evolving to be driven by a consumer-based mindset. Just as individual IT users want apps for their mobile phones, business and IT people want packaged solutions that address their specific problems. They also demand that these solutions work in concert with the rest of their enterprise software stack. The solutions must be quick to implement and cost-effective. Business consumers refuse to purchase “shelfware” they might not use. This is yet another challenge for automation.
As cloud-based automation services gain in popularity, business customers won’t have to pay for hardware, software or licences that they might not use. Modular-process Automation as a Service gives companies the control to connect and improve processes end-to-end on an as-needed basis. Like an app for a phone, innovative providers now offer prepackaged, pay-as-you-go automation solutions for rapid results.
With packaged and targeted process automation, companies can quickly implement standardized, world-class automated and connected processes. They can apply this to everything from shipping notification and billing to supply chain and auditing. The old hurdles to efficient full automation are fading and the era of enterprise process automation has begun.
New year, new approach
The second decade of the 21st century has an urgency that’s altogether new. Companies of every size are aggressively working to speed market response times, expand business and provide better service. It’s a race for customers, information and results.
Consumer product vendors such as Amazon.com Inc. have made next-day service the expectation. Manufacturers have tightened the reins on supply chain and logistics activities, reducing downtime and saving big money. Services providers are reaching out to their customer base like never before, using detailed data to track their targets.
What’s driving all of this? It’s all based on new technology, but automation is at the core of this move to increase process efficiency. Throughout this year, smarter and more-focused automation will be the most significant game changer for companies everywhere.
Tijl Vuyk is the founder and chief executive officer of Redwood Software Inc. He has more than 24 years of experience making IT and business processes support measurable and practical success. Under his leadership, Redwood has become one of the leaders in enterprise business and IT process automation.