Automating the enterprise to thrive in your digital transformation journey

Wednesday 31 March 2021 16:33
Today's businesses are challenged with moving faster than ever before and often with less resources, both in terms of budget and personnel. This is especially true since mid-2020, with workforces moving remotely during the COVID pandemic, which has further led many IT departments to reevaluate how they can continue to support their customers and grow their business in uncertain times. Automation may be the solution and the underutilized tool in their technological toolbox.
Automating the enterprise to thrive in your digital transformation journey

Business automation: begin with a definition
The definition of business automation is changing as organizations redefine their priorities to transform and go digital. Previously, it was more focused on automating business processes, such as record-keeping, to make them faster and easier to monitor. Today businesses are having to deal with digital disruption and need to adopt automation strategies that help them digitally transform. Instead of the previous era of automation which largely focused on automating tasks, business and technology leaders can consider business automation to align modern approaches to application development with business processes—then codify these models to allow for easy maintenance and distribution.

Traditionally, technologies such as business process management (BPM), decision management and complex event processing (CEP) were used to drive greater efficiencies and control costs across the organization; however, these technologies are now finding their place as a key enabler for digital transformation. By aligning these technologies with modern, cloud-native application development tools and practices, organizations are able to bring new applications to market faster. Ultimately, it's about enabling business users and application developers to work together more seamlessly, and as a result of their collaboration, the organization is able to respond to changes in the world around them with greater agility and effectiveness.

Automation's role in digital transformation
Although the need for digital transformation may vary widely based on an organization's specific challenges and demands, it's clear that it is the key strategy for thriving in today's market environment, and it requires both business and IT leaders to partner together. In an IDC study sponsored by Red Hat, 86% of IT professionals said, "automation is very important or mission-critical to my future cloud strategy." An enterprise-wide approach to automation should include strategies to transform the way people, processes, and platforms work together. This enables organizations to manage complex environments more easily, gain visibility into your operations, and integrate new technology and processes more effectively.

A good example showcasing the value of automation is Thailand's own Ascend Money. As Asia's largest financial technology company, they serve more than 40 million people in 6 countries. Rapid growth through acquisitions meant that teams in each country had different approaches to developing and deploying digital applications, preventing efficient collaboration. The company wanted to gain efficiency by building a central application development and deployment platform. Ascend Money standardized application delivery and processes on Red Hat's OpenShift Container Platform, based on Kubernetes container orchestration technology. With the help of Ansible automation, Ascend Money can now more easily expand business products and services to quickly meet customer demand.

Another automation example from ASEAN's public sector would be Malaysia's social security organization, PERKESO. They are using Red Hat Process Automation to reduce operational costs and extend the availability of its services. With the help of process automation, more than 400,000 employers can now perform transactions, such as contribution submissions and payments, via PERKESO's new digital channels, instead of having to visit a physical branch. This not only helps PERKESO to better serve existing customers, it also means that employees in new sectors, such as drivers working for e-hailing services, are now protected under federal regulations.

Automation to drive business innovation
Expanding automation for an activity or set of tasks means less time spent manually performing those tasks. IT teams can implement new processes - create DevOps and DevSecOps, and enable them to make new applications and update at speed and at scale.
Automation also enables self-service and delegation. As people work in new configurations - like we do now with vast swathes of employees remote working - we're all under resource and time pressures. Delegation and self-service are vital to address these new challenges. Microsoft leveraged automation to transform how they manage networks and network automation within their partner ecosystem: comprising hardware vendors, different technologies and multi-vendor requirements. Working with Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform's community, Microsoft drove network advancements for their enterprise clients.

Teams also cannot write code and create products without governance. Without the adequate layers of review and oversight, organizations run the risk of leaving open security vulnerabilities and configurations. This can pull valuable resources, time and money to solve problems that do not need to be there in the first place. Governance about "who's allowed to do what", especially in economies and businesses in ASEAN that are leapfrogging technology, is important when considering automation.

Up next: AI-driven automation
Automation has become an essential element of an organization's modernization and digital transformation strategy, more so than ever before. Today, it is the answer to IT talent shortage and the constant pressure for agile innovation. The benefits are compelling. It improves accountability, efficiency and predictability, while reducing cost, variability and risk. As a result, more and more enterprises are taking advantage of automation, making it a key business enabler for today's fast-paced digital economy.

The technologies and use cases surrounding business automation continue to evolve, driven by macro-level trends such as the confluence of automation and application intelligence, the rise of the citizen developer, the impact of new cloud-native development and deployment paradigms like microservices and containers, and more.

As technology leaders evaluate the best route for driving business agility they should also look for solutions that allow users to manage policy, enforcement and processes at the domain level. Solving problems at the same time and in one place allows for easy scalability, while freeing up bandwidth to focus on more strategic initiatives. If adaptation was a goal for 2020, then organizations should consider business automation in their 2021 digital transformation roadmaps in order to level-up.

Source: PC and Associates Consulting