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Evolving business and customer demands have long been a challenge for IT, and navigating them remains top of mind. The pulse of innovation never stops, and neither does the pressure to cater to employees and customers. In fact, 84% of IT leaders share the need for IT to step up its game and better address shifting customer expectations. 

To increase internal collaboration and efficiency, IT leaders are leaning into automation and AI – but these initiatives are not here to replace the human touch, rather to liberate human potential. These technologies free up IT experts to dive into the more “human” aspects of their roles, think innovation, communication, and collaboration. Picture it as IT superheroes, if you will, donning capes of automation. 

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Imagine this scenario: a data-driven approach to automation that infuses the power of customer insights to overcome any challenge. The result? Lightning-fast, cost-effective solutions that culminate in unforgettable employee and customer experiences.

Merging data and dreams: The imperative of IT automation

Implementing automation is not without its challenges. Although 91% of organizations recognize the need for automation technology, only 23% have managed to implement it across all business functions. This gap highlights the untapped potential for organizations to harness the full power of automation.

And the hunger for automation has only intensified in recent years. Despite 62% of IT organizations finding it tough to keep pace with the rising demand of automation from business teams, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Seventy-four percent of IT leaders anticipate a surge in demand over the next 18 months. What’s more, a significant 58% of these leaders are already preoccupied with keeping the lights on.

But here’s a silver lining: 69% of IT leaders expect budget increases over the upcoming 18 months, with 57% expecting additional headcount. Teams are also focused on maximizing their current resources, with 89% increasingly focused on operational efficiency.

It’s safe to say that automation isn’t just knocking on IT’s door; it’s setting up shop. With tools like Flow, RPA and Slack’s Workflow Builder, teams are waving goodbye to manual drudgery and welcoming efficiency like an old friend. Led by increased operational efficiency and employee productivity, IT departments are reported seeing the greatest benefits from automation.

Unlocking the revenue vault

How does automation align with boosting the bottom line? Turns out, quite remarkably. Businesses that embrace automation can optimize pricing strategies, wield inventory and service offerings like a pro, and pull off data-driven decisions that trigger revenue growth. For instance, 80% of companies rode the real-time data wave to revenue success.

On average, automation saves 13.5% from operational costs. In the same survey, a tool and household hardware manufacturer discovered that their operational costs were reduced by 30-40% with automation leading the charge. 

Powering productivity into overdrive

Here comes the dynamo: automation boots productivity by liberating teams of repetitive tasks. What’s more, 90% of customer service employees reported increased productivity thanks to data-driven automation initiatives. 

It’s important to note that more than one-third of organizations struggle with elusive skilled resources needed to automate business processes. The silver bullet? Unleashing automation on key IT operations, services, and data management workflows. The result? A well-oiled efficiency machine that releases IT’s potential to elevate business functions.

Further, technical leaders who implemented automation also report a strong ROI. Almost 75% of these leaders witnessed time savings of at least four hours per 40-hour workweek. Manual processes took a backseat, job satisfaction went through the roof, and stress levels took a dive.

Increasing collaboration

Automation is the ultimate matchmaker, fostering collaboration across diverse business units. The outcome? Seamlessly integrated customer data and a customer experience that flows like a symphony. 

Currently, nearly half of companies use automation to choreograph activities across various units. And a whopping 90% of IT users are raising their glasses, toasting automation for the newfound satisfaction derived from collaborating smoothly across departments.

The overture to your automation symphony

AI is IT’s rising star, but the real showstopper is a well-crafted automation strategy. Brace yourself for the crescendo of this four-step masterpiece.

Step 1: Fine-tuning your focus

To kickstart your automation journey, it’s essential to thoroughly analyze existing processes within your organization. This involves identifying areas where automation can bring the most impact in terms of efficiency, cost savings, employee retention, and customer experience. 

Here’s where the magic happens: start by mapping out your current processes, involving all stakeholders and process owners from both IT and the business side. This all-hands-on-deck approach lays the foundation for a holistic understanding of the workflow – a crystal-clear view of inefficiencies, data dependencies, and potential pain points.

At this point, you’ll have a clear picture of your business processes, ready to determine what isn’t working optimally, and where there might be redundancies or bottlenecks. Ask yourself: Where is repetitive manual effort required? Where are the performance issues? What steps are prone to human error? 

By now, processes that span multiple teams and those that take a frequent lap around the organization are prime candidates. Think software provisioning, data cleansing, systems monitoring, and more.

Step 2: Choosing the right tools for the job

Once you’ve identified the areas for automation, it’s time to choose the right tools or platforms that align with your organization’s needs and goals. Several factors come into play when choosing the right tools:

  • Ease of use: Look for low- or no-code automation tools that enable business users to create and modify workflows without extensive coding knowledge. These tools empower business teams to participate actively in the automation process, reducing the burden on IT and accelerating implementation.
  • Integration: Consider how smoothly your chosen tools tango with your existing tech stack. Seamless integration ensures that automation can work harmoniously with your current systems, avoiding data silos and facilitating the smooth flow of information.
  • Scalability: Make sure selected automation tools can scale with your organization’s growth. As you grow, your tools should keep pace without skipping a beat.
  • Security: Data security and compliance are critical aspects of any automation strategy. Pick tools that adhere with the highest security standards and comply with regulations.

Look for automation platforms that offer a range of capabilities, such as low-code automation for quick and straightforward processes, decision assistance powered by AI for data-driven insights, or seamless integration capabilities to connect data from various sources.

Step 3: Designing, developing, and testing workflows

With the right automation tools in place, work with process owners and stakeholders to craft choreography that breaks down processes into smaller, manageable tasks. Clearly outline the sequence of decision points and data dependencies that will guide the automation. It’s all about that logical flow.

Work closely with the teams involved in the process to ensure that the automated workflows align with their needs and expectations. Taking their feedback into account will result in more effective automation that fits seamlessly into their day-to-day operations.

During the development phase, ensure that the automated workflows can handle various scenarios, including exceptions and edge cases. Rigorous testing is important to validate that the automation delivers the desired results and shines under various spotlights.

To mitigate risks and build confidence, start small and have a pilot performance with less critical processes. This approach allows you to identify any potential issues and iron out any bumps before scaling it across the organization.

Step 4: Monitoring, optimizing, and expanding

Lights, camera, automation! As you roll out your automated processes, keep a close eye on its performance. Remember, the show’s just begun. Fine-tuning, iteration, monitoring – these are the encore-worthy acts that make the magic last.

Don’t be deceived; the curtain doesn’t fall after the last implementation. Automation thrives on continuous monitoring, optimization, and potential adjustments to match the evolving business landscape. 

Keep seeking feedback from users and stakeholders to understand how automation impacts their work and the overall customer experience. Use this feedback to make informed decisions about optimizing the automated workflows for better results.

As you gain confidence and success with automation in one area, consider expanding its application to other parts of the business. This iterative approach allows you to build on previous successes and extend the benefits of automation across the organization.

And as the applause swells, consider this: the journey’s just starting.

Your journey starts now

Automation, when embraced with a customer-first mindset, enables IT to support an organization’s overall strategy for success. As businesses seek to build meaningful and long-lasting relationships with customers, automation becomes a critical enabler for meeting and exceeding customer expectations at every touchpoint.

Additionally, a well-considered automation strategy, underpinned by the right tools and platforms, will set the stage for organizations and their employees to innovate at scale. As technology continues to evolve, the synergy between automation and AI will play a vital role in shaping the future of IT and customer-centric businesses alike.