Jarrod Johnston has held several roles in software development, automated QA testing, IT operations, IT management, and cloud and automation. He is the principal architect at Technologent, a system integrator with customers across the globe. Johnston helps organizations find the best way to use cloud and automation technologies to enable growth. He is a graduate of DeVry Institute of Technology, and he is certified in AWS and Azure cloud and ITIL.
Automation has been used widely in manufacturing for decades and now has been well established in IT.
Tools used in automation have come a long way in the past few years. Now just about any IT administrator can start automating their work with little to no programming experience or specialized skills.
It has been commonplace for the IT industry to tout the mantra of automating everything for some time. The cloud has accelerated that imperative for automation more than ever before. Yet, many organizations still have no strategy for how they will use automation within the business.
Machine learning (ML)/artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities are two of the top trends that many businesses are focusing on. These tools are used to understand how the business is operating at various levels, such as sales, end-to-end order flows, customer interactions, internal business processes, and IT operational processes executed in the business. This gives us knowledge that we can then act upon to improve our business, our products, and the experience of our customers. Using that knowledge, actions can be automated or predicted based off patterns of the past.
Hyperautomation is the automation of everything. This is no small feat though. What does it even mean to automate everything? Manufacturing figured it out. IT has begun to figure it out. What about sales? HR? Could accounting be automated? If we look at what automation does, it has a couple of important goals:
- Speed up the execution of tasks and reduce toil
- Reduce or eliminate errors in tasks that are done repetitively
- Ensure long series of tasks are done the same way every time
The outcome of these goals is that the people who were doing the same thing over and over, often with lots of discrepancies, now can use their creativity to improve the lives of their customers and businesses. Computers can’t think outside the boxes we put them in. With that in mind, every organization should be making automation a critical piece of their business strategy.
Creating New Business Opportunities
Over the past year and a half, we have gone through one of the most trying times in our generation. Yet, more new businesses have been started than ever before. The next Amazon or Microsoft may be in incubation stages right now. To keep up with small, nimble businesses that started out using cloud services, businesses of all sizes must learn to be responsive and flexible to customer demand. IT must be responsive and flexible. Sales, accounting, and even HR have to be responsive and flexible.
When companies make hyperautomation part of their business strategy, it will enable them to supercharge their ability to create and plan for future opportunities. Every department of an organization can contribute to the goal of automating everything. Automation doesn’t eliminate or reduce the need for employees. In fact, it will put them in the even-more-important role of value creators.
Incorporating ML/AI into an automation strategy will help in tracking and seeing areas of potential improvement in processes across the business — or even to drive the path to automation itself. Looking at these principals in atypical business units, such as sales, opens the door to many potential opportunities. As an example, by using data from social media ad clicks, search engine trends, and e-commerce sales, hyperautomation could send pre-order requests to manufacturing lines, which will ensure they are scaling up in advance of heavy demand. The same can be said about drawing down as demand decreases.
Building models based off consumer interactions and the relationship to direct sales would be next to impossible without hyperautomation tying the data together and providing prediction-based information into systems. Fundamentally, this changes how businesses operate as incoming real-time data may justify operational changes that have to happen quickly. Businesses will have to be more flexible to manage the ebbs and flows of those demands.
Drive Business Value Through Team Activities
Evaluating the latest business trends such as ML/AI can be difficult to squeeze in. Every organization wants to take advantage of any differentiator that might let them get ahead of their competitors but struggle with prioritizing day-to-day work and customer demands. Busy work won’t bring value back to the business. Tasks such as inputting data in spreadsheets for financial analysis, posting social media ads, scheduling inventory moves, or creating user accounts are all critical tasks for the business that support operations.
Instead of assigning those tasks to staff, implement hyperautomation to perform the activities based on business indicators. Creative work is the realm of your staff, and it is something only they can do. The impact a team has on solving problems or creating innovation could change your business forever. When they bring these innovations to market based on customer demands, they will drive continued business growth.
Hyperautomation is a multiplier allowing businesses to augment their staff to do more with less effort on more important activities. The return on investment for staff who build new lines of business, improve sales in current lines, or reduce operational burden by improving processes will far exceed the benefits they can provide performing operational or administrative tasks. With a strong hyperautomation strategy, companies can focus on creating business value instead of filling traditional job roles.