Companies Must Re-Build and Re-Design Their Businesses to Automate

I’m continuing my blog series on enterprise IT being too slow for business today. There are no half measures when it comes to automating a company’s technology. This post explains why.

Automation is a prerequisite for success today. There is simply no way of getting around it.  Those who master automated delivery of IT services are going to win.

But to automate properly, companies must re-build and re-design their businesses; that way, they can make the countless daily technology changes needed to keep up with customers. And this is only possible through the continuous delivery of code.

In a world where traditional everything is under attack – Amazon’s continued onslaught against brick and mortar retail and Uber’s competition with taxi cab services are two notable examples – businesses must make the change to continuous delivery of code now, or risk a slow death over the long-run.

Automation is an obvious solution to today’s speed challenge. This lesson goes as far back as the Industrial Revolution. Technology can perform some work at a rate that is impossible for humans.

And yet, according to Forrester data, nearly half the typical enterprise IT budget (47%) is spent on people. And almost 3/4 of that (72%) is spent on ongoing operations – work that is now overwhelmingly manual in most organizations. This means that approximately 1/3 (33.8%) of IT budgets now go to functions that are probably too slow.

Keeping that in mind, let’s look at three key categories for automation tools.

A task execution tool automatically performs a task that would otherwise require manual action; a process flow tool codifies processes; and a decision trigger tool helps determine when to take action, as opposed to the first two tools, which focus on how to act.

Task execution tools aren’t everywhere yet, but they’re getting close. This is good news for the evolution of IT automation because task execution is the foundation for broader automation. Task execution tools will be implemented and then unified with process flow technologies and, eventually, decision triggers to bring more intelligence to an organization’s overall automation tool chain.

Unfortunately, roadblocks to broader adoption of automation technologies and the whole concept of automation remain.

The top resistance force is cost. Many automation solutions are expensive, but more economical options are now available (Chef, for example)

The concerns about technology shortcomings are also valid, to an extent. Comprehensive automation is still out of reach for many enterprises, but plenty of reliable task execution utilities are already available.

The bottom line with every barrier to automation, though, is the issue of trust. And the whole automation field is now more an evolution of trust than it is an evolution of technology.

Getting technology people to work well together is a major part of the answer, as my next post will demonstrate.

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Barry Crist

Barry Crist has more than 20 years of experience in driving enterprise customer success with open source and DevOps software solutions and is a recognized leader in driving a culture of innovation. Barry joined Chef as CEO in 2013 and has been a leading force behind the company’s business operations, culture and technology innovation.