History will look back on this period of the 21st century as a pioneering, resilient, and excitingly disruptive time. We’re deep into a dynamic era as the cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI), IT automation, and digital transformation converge to drive challenges and dazzling opportunities. The sheer force and potential of AI—coupled with unprecedented security risks and ongoing infrastructure advances will shape enterprises for years to come. Creative, courageous, and timely responses from business leaders amidst the pressures of a stubborn pandemic have preserved prosperity and momentum, keeping global economies buoyant despite multiple threats.
What an ideal time to launch a comparative survey of major trends and directions. Resolve commissioned Gatepoint Research to conduct surveys in 2021 and 2022, inviting IT leaders to respond to questions about the state of IT Automation, future predictions, priorities, and concerns. The end result of the surveys is the newly published report, The State of IT Automation.
The purpose of the report is to provide a compass for those who are making decisions on these very issues. Technology-driven transformation demands accurate analysis of market trends and smart allocation of often limited resources. And this decision making has very human consequences in terms of how and where work gets done, impacts on revenue, and the viability of companies themselves.
There is no question that all organizations must now fast-track new technologies or get left behind. Our respondents are acutely aware of these pressures, and they reflect that in their responses. The path to digital maturity now leads through IT automation, with its ability to deliver at scale, reduce complexity, and lower costs.
Automation Raises the Stature of Enterprise IT
There was a time when IT could have complained it “got no respect,” as Rodney Dangerfield famously put it. Often perceived as a reactive function charged with “keeping the lights on,” IT has now emerged as a strategic driver of change, the key to cracking tough automation challenges and keeping the momentum moving toward digital transformation.
The State of IT Automation report provides insights from IT leadership about the latest automation trends. Hundreds of leaders, ranging from C-level through EVPs, directors,
and senior managers contributed their perceptions of urgent priorities and the current status of their own automation goals.
To see the direction of trends, Resolve compared 2022 survey results with those of a similar 2021 survey, and the results showed changes—some surprising, some predictable. Wherever one sits in IT, whether Operations, Service Management, Network Operations, or Cloud Operations, automation provides a lever for change. It raises efficiency and productivity, reduces human error, eliminates redundancies, lowers costs, and liberates staff from tedious, manual processes.
Talent and Staffing Migraines
Over three-quarters of executives identify talent and staffing shortages as a primary headache—exacerbated by repetitive tasks that affect morale, productivity, and retention. They are pulling out the stops to automate, simplify, and orchestrate business processes, while reducing mean time to resolution (MTTR).
Their adversaries in this mission include persistent organizational silos and the conflict between security and speed in delivering software. Another enemy of efficiency is ongoing complexity. Rapid changes in the digital landscape have introduced new sets of tools from DevOps, cloud, and AIOps, extending across the IT ecosystem. As this tool sprawl increases, solutions providing incremental or piecemeal progress will yield only short-term benefits. Winning with automation requires leaders to think and plan holistically and strategically—and IT has grown into the challenge.
IT is now leading the charge in automated infrastructure provisioning, testing, proactive maintenance, and other key activities. They are focused on fueling innovation and orchestration, implementing greater efficiency, and reducing arduous manual demands. To deal with increasing complexity, leaders seek the convenience of a single pane of glass with full-stack visibility to help streamline operations, boost performance, and reduce MTTR.
For example, automating the orchestration of scripts through a centralized hub increases IT visibility and agility, enabling quick adaptation, bringing the best of both worlds together. In fact, 66% of IT leaders now rely on automation of scripting to cut costs, troubleshoot, and speed service delivery. Companies are also reaching out for the ease and speed of building automation workflows with no code—creating with drag-and-drop ease and no need for complex APIs or development from scratch. Whether automating repetitive manual tasks and day-to-day runbooks, or orchestrating complex processes, leaders want purpose-built intelligent automation to solve common challenges. Fortunately, automation has reached the stage where it can easily connect with existing systems and enterprise applications, with pre-built integrations and connectors at one’s fingertips. With the right platform, IT can execute millions of automations every day on the most complex IT endpoints; this not only saves time but also enables vital scalability.
IT Operations Management, for example, can automate infrastructure provisioning, testing, incident resolution, proactive maintenance, and more. In 2022, IT Operations Management is the most likely functional area to have launched automation initiatives, followed by IT Service Management. Nearly half (47%) of respondents say their cloud operations have active automation projects underway.
Choosing the Right Automation Platform
This decision can make a vast difference in whether change is piecemeal or all-encompassing and transformational. Not surprisingly, many changes brought about under Covid pressures have become a permanent part of the enterprise. Tickets, incidents, problems, and service requests initially swamped many service desks, making automation priority one for both enterprises and SMBs, whose smaller teams must often wear many hats.
Automating the service desk is now critical. Manual and inefficient processes are a drag that companies can no longer afford in a post-pandemic remote or hybrid workplace.
That means accelerating incident management, enabling self-service options, speeding cloud migration, and gaining the ability to deploy and provision systems while keeping costs down. Nearly all respondents are engaged with automation projects. In 2021, 73% of respondents listed their organization at the intermediate or advanced stage of automation. 83% mentioned time savings and improved efficiency as the most notable benefits they sought.
The report delivers statistics on why automation is now such a crucial building block for growth. It offers enriched detail on the connection between adopting disruptive new technologies and growing the business. As new technologies continually evolve, IT is needed to unite systems and ensure scalability and visibility while maintaining productivity. More and more, enterprises seek pre-built IT automation to implement out-of-the-box integrations. A unified platform that requires no coding accelerates and simplifies provisioning, patching, proactive updating, and incident resolution across the hybrid compute environment. Leaders realize that the right platform can make it all work—from simple tasks to complex processes across servers, VMs, databases, storage, and apps, whether on-prem or in the cloud.