Psst, automating these 3 parts of your job is the best you can do right now

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Thanks to the convergence of various trends and changes in different markets and industries, automation is becoming a critical factor in the success of businesses and products. Advances in artificial intelligence are creating many opportunities to automate operations, reduce waste and increase efficiency, in parallel with the rapid digitization of all aspects of business.

From managing your Information Technology (IT) bill to finding bottlenecks in your business processes and taking control of your own network operations, here are three areas companies can profit from implementing automation.

1. IT automation

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Practically every large organization has IT. Even small companies without on-site IT staff can pay for another company to do it for them. Increasing demand for IT can put more strain on professionals who have to deal with the ever-expanding and changing landscape of application and computing platforms.

“I’ve never met an IT professional or CIO who said they had enough time and budget to do whatever the business wanted and more. “There is always a skill gap to run projects through IT,” says Bill Lobig, IBM VP of Automation Product Management.

The talent gap highlights the need to provide IT staff with automation tools so they can manage application uptime and keep IT operations stable.

Fortunately, advances in artificial intelligence are helping companies move towards intelligent automation by collecting and processing all kinds of structured and unstructured data.

“We’re seeing companies have more confidence in applying AI to a wider set of data, including log files and metrics and information originating from the systems running in your business (databases, application servers, Kubernetes, VMs), Lobig says.

Previously, IT professionals may have optimized their infrastructure by making informed decisions and overprovisioning their resources. They can now take the guesswork out of their decisions by using AI to analyze IT infrastructure data, find patterns, predict usage, and optimize their resources.

For example, JB Hunt, a logistics and shipping company, uses IBM Turbonomic software to automate the scaling of its cloud and on-premises resources. For on-premises environments, JB Hunt automates all non-disruptive actions 24/7 and scales non-production actions during an overnight maintenance window.

“Workloads scale and rise; it is not static. No matter how much performance testing and capacity you put into sizing an application deployment, it’s an educated guess. You really don’t know how your customers’ workloads will change at different times,” says Lobig.

In public cloud environments, the JB Hunt team uses a combination of recommendations and automated actions to manage their resources. Over 12 months, Turbonomic performed approximately 2,000 resize actions, assuming manual intervention required 20 minutes per action, freeing the team over 650 hours to focus on strategic initiatives.

2. Business processes

Business processes is another area that can benefit from advances in artificial intelligence and automation. The previous wave of automation in business processes was mostly driven by robotic process automation (RPA). While RPA has a tremendous impact on productivity, like other solutions, it has its limits.

RPA only handles tasks that you think need automation. It can automate but not optimize a poorly designed process. It also cannot perform tasks that cannot be defined by deterministic rules. This is where “process and task mining” comes into play. According to Lobig:

RPA executes scripts to automate what you tell it to do. It is very specific and strict in what it can do, automating highly repeatable tasks. Process and task mining finds inefficiencies you can’t see.

Process and task mining, is your business really going the way you think? Does everyone complete transactions the same way? What should you optimize first? It helps you overcome the low hanging fruit and find hidden inefficiencies of your business that can also be addressed with automation.

3. Network

In the past, networking was a specialized hardware-based discipline largely controlled by large telecommunications companies. Today, the networking ecosystem is more complex as businesses now require off-the-shelf application deployment in a hybrid multicloud environment, from customer-led to edge to private and public clouds.

The challenge is to deploy and connect all application endpoints at scale. To sustain application performance, availability, security, and user experience, networks must be agile and dynamic. But today’s networks face unprecedented challenges that can make them unresponsive and unable to adapt to change. Enterprise and service providers can meet these needs by offering private enterprise network value with self-service enterprise control.

Organizations can now own and manage networking functions and end-to-end connectivity without being proficient in switches, routers, radio access networks, and other hardware.

“Networking has become another part of the application supply chain (like databases, VMs, and containers) that companies already run. Why not have your network part of your full IT environment so you can apply AI to optimize?” Lobby says.

For example, consider a large multinational bank that allows its customers to access their accounts abroad through ATM machines. The company had previously outsourced the network connection to a large telecom company. When telecommunications service was interrupted in a country where the bank served, customers were unable to access their funds. Although the bank did not have control over the network service, it was fined for the outage.

Now, with software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and automation and orchestration tools such as IBM’s AIOps solutions and IBM SevOne Network Performance Management, the bank can take control of its own software-defined network instead of replacing such a network. significant liability to another company. New application-centric networking can enhance these capabilities. This can provide enhanced security, smart observability, and service assurance while providing a common way to manage networks across a variety of infrastructure, tools, and security fabrics.

Another area of ​​networking that will provide new opportunities for automation is 5G.

“Many people think of 5G as a faster network technology. But 5G will transform and disrupt B2B use cases. It can really bring edge computing to the fore,” Lobig says.

For organizations, there is an opportunity to leverage software-defined networking and 5G to unlock new business models where high bandwidth, low latency, and local connectivity are paramount.

An example is DISH Wireless, a company that has teamed up with IBM to automate the first ground-breaking cloud-based 5G network in the US. DISH Wireless uses IBM’s network orchestration software and services to bring 5G network orchestration to business and operations platforms. An application they’re working on allows logistics companies to track package locations down to the centimeter, thanks to edge connectivity, RFID tags, and network management software.

“We help them do this with our telecom and network computing automation, edge computing automation, and enable them to set up state-of-the-art orchestration for their customers. These unexpected industries could use 5G to truly transform how business is run in different domains,” Lobig says.

Where is the industry headed?

Automation is evolving rapidly and we will see many new applications in the coming months and years. For companies that are at the beginning of their automation journey, Lobig has a few tips.

In the business automation field, look at process and task mining. Do you really know where time is spent in your business? Do you know how things are done? If you use this technology, you will be able to identify the patterns and sequence of events that lead to good outcomes and bad outcomes. Armed with these insights, you can redesign and automate the processes that have the greatest impact on your business.

Lobig also believes that IT automation will be a bigger theme in 2023 as the world faces an energy crisis and electricity costs become a potentially escalating problem. IT automation can help organizations use the capacity they need, which can translate into savings.

IT automation could also be important in tackling the climate change crisis.

“These days, you can tell if your organization’s data center or workload is powered by a renewable energy source,” Lobig says. “With this data, IT automation has the potential to automatically move workloads from the cloud to on-premises and back to hyperscalers to optimize costs and efficiency.”

As for the future, Lobig believes low-code/no-code application platforms will play an important role in automation by enabling more workers to create automations that can increase productivity.

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