One of the most popular business applications of artificial intelligence (AI) is automation of processes, typically but not exclusively within information technology (IT). Like every other significant business and IT initiative, AI-enabled automation promises significant benefits, but comes with some potentially daunting challenges. Herewith, some thoughts on those challenges and benefits, and suggestions for navigating the former and maximizing the latter.
Why Process Automation Now?
Almost every business on the planet is pursuing initiative related to digital transformation, remote work support, and/or the “consumerization” of IT and business applications. Some of you reading this may be working on all three of these simultaneously. And the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and intensified the pursuit of all three of these goals.
In support of these pursuits, many businesses are deploying, exploring, or considering AI-powered solutions for process automation. Many such solutions exist, and more are coming. But to get the most value out of whatever tool or tools you choose, you must ensure your decisions are well informed and focused on the goals of the business. And of course, there are risks involved.
IT Process Automation: Recognize and Minimize the Risks
Long-time IT industry observer (and my former colleague) Bob Violino has written a great piece at CIO.com. His “6 Hidden Risks of IT Automation” includes opinions from numerous industry decision makers about the potholes and land mines challenging all seeking to automate IT processes. Here are the six risks Bob and his sources cite as perhaps most challenging.
- “Automating processes before optimizing them
- Allowing ‘automation complacency’ to take hold
- Poor communication among stakeholders
- Process automation misfit
- Overlooking end user input
- No consideration of [user] interaction design”
How best to avoid these and other challenges when considering or implementing automation? Fortunately, another piece at CIO.com offers the start to a great answer to this important question.
That piece, by former editor-in-chief of CIO magazine Maryfran Johnson, is entitled “The one skill every CIO needs for better board conversations.” The experts quoted throughout the piece ably argue that that skill is the ability to ask more and better questions. And to ask more and better questions, you need good listening and critical thinking skills as well.
Based on my decades of dealing with IT and business decision makers, I could not agree more. Listening, thinking critically, and asking good questions are key elements of developing the insights you need to maximize the business value of all of your efforts and investments, within and beyond IT.
Fortunately, there are tools and technologies that can help with all of this.
InsightFinder: Help with Automation, and More
I recently met with members of the founding management team of a company called InsightFinder. That team includes my good friend, former ServiceNow colleague and serial entrepreneur Dan Turchin. After that discussion, I believe InsightFinder could help many decision makers take a more strategic approach to AI-enabled automation of critical IT processes such as anomaly detection, incident prediction, and root cause analysis.
I believe this for two reasons. One is InsightFinder’s technologies. You can read the company’s white papers at its web site. My take: their technologies are designed to provide powerful multivariate analysis, across all your data sources and data-generating solutions, at scale. The ability to process more of your data might just enable you to achieve greater, more strategic insights than possible with alternatives.
InsightFinder’s technologies also include machine learning (ML) algorithms that get smarter as situations get more complex. This feature can avoid what the InsightFinder team calls the “innovation tax” imposed by the need to buy more bandwidth as Avoiding the innovation tax by buying bandwidth to accelerate digital transformation the business needs.
The other reason I believe InsightFinder can deliver more strategic benefits to your IT process automation efforts is the team behind the technologies. The members I met have different, complementary skills and experiences, but they share a common commitment to a focus on business and user benefits. Telling the IT team what and where a problem is and how best to solve it is great. Providing additional information that helps to frame problems and solutions in business-centric, user-focused terms is even better.
Think of it this way. Initiatives such as digital transformation, work-from-home/work-from-anywhere support, and IT consumerization can all benefit from two things: more time, and more input from your most skilled practitioners. InsightFinder can deliver both, by helping your team get the most business benefit out of every hour and dollar your business invests in IT.
How much more valuable would every hour you didn’t have to spend on basic, repetitive incident and problem resolution tasks if you could spend that hour accelerating strategic initiatives and delivering business benefits instead? InsightFinder might just help you find out.
I strongly recommend you read the two CIO.com articles I’ve mentioned, and that you check out InsightFinder. The technologies are impressive, and the people behind them even more so. Remember, you’re doing nothing less than trying to change the world (of work, at least). You’re going to need some help.