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April 29, 2016
The Case for Automation

There has been substantial buzz around the “outcome economy”—businesses becoming results-oriented to meet evolving customer demand and gain greater market share. To be sure, today’s marketplace is connected, always on and increasingly competitive. As a result, companies are adopting an “as-a-Service” approach to achieve their goals faster, consuming and leveraging leading-edge technologies such as cloud and automation.

As the IT world evolves, non-automated, manual systems are increasingly becoming a major business liability. Today’s systems are too complex and cumbersome to run completely manually, and many enterprises are discovering that working without automation is largely unsustainable.

Automation delivers a specific set of tools, processes and insights that equips IT systems to self-modify and adjust. In fact, some enterprises have started using intelligent automation to drive a new, more productive relationship between people and machines. By its very nature, automation enables the ability to adapt and improve the service experience without manual intervention. At the same time, while these tools offer new strengths and capabilities, they are meant to complement and enhance human skills. Ideally, they should free people to do more cerebral work that generates a higher impact on business results.

High resiliency and experimentation
Efficient automation should spawn at least two common business outcomes—highly resilient systems and experimentation platforms.

Highly resilient systems include automation that can detect, avoid, heal and remediate any deviations from a normal, healthy business function. To detect such abnormalities, automation capabilities need to understand what the steady state of the system is and what constitutes the health of the system under various conditions. Each detected deviation from an established steady state triggers a specific automation that attempts to return the system back to its steady state.

Additionally, automation can provide a higher degree of experimentation and increase agility, two key attributes of the as-a-Service economy. Automatically provisioning a component such as a virtual machine, for example, is only a piece of the puzzle, since automation is most valuable when it contributes to improving a customer experience or delivering a business outcome.

A platform that’s constantly testing, experimenting and developing allows companies to try new ideas in production quickly without fear of failure or outage. When a business has a high degree of confidence in system resiliency, it allows more breathing room for leaders to test new ideas directly in production.

A fast, efficient experimentation platform enables businesses to react faster to failures (and successes)—and pivot accordingly without wasting resources. For example, a retail company might change a shopping basket feature for 1 percent of its customers. With constant measurement and instrumentation, the company can automatically derive insights, determine if the change is effective and create a chain of automated reactions.

Every modern enterprise should start thinking about an automation strategy. Companies that aren’t experimenting with automation are going to be outpaced quickly by their competitors. The most forward-looking enterprises are utilizing automation to analyze data and harvest insights to make their processes more agile and unchain their infrastructure from age-old complexities.


Authors:

Marshall Wells, Managing Director, Hybrid Cloud

Miha Kralj, Managing Director, IT Strategy and Cloud Computing Transformation

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