IT predictions for 2016
This year has seen several interesting developments in the global IT industry, particularly within the cloud sector. As CTO of NaviSite I’ve seen many of the trends we predicted last year being realised, such as the normalisation of 'anytime, anywhere working' and cloud becoming a mainstream business technology. My bet is that 2016 will have even more fascinating developments in store. I’m not claiming to have a crystal ball, but as organisations continue to depend on IT to realise business goals, increase efficiencies and attract the best talent we can expect to see some of the following developments for enterprise IT in 2016:
- Businesses will be forced to transform to survive. It is no longer sufficient “just” to be the best in your industry. Businesses across all industries need to examine their untapped data assets to drive the next wave of innovation and competition. There are other businesses in your industry which will effectively leverage these assets to drive unprecedented levels of competition.
- The security landscape will continue to change rapidly. As we’ve seen over the past 18 months, the nature of the threat has changed in fundamental ways. No longer is perimeter based security sufficient (was it ever?) – a deep, granular, distributed security model is required. Advances in software defined networking combined with other non-traditional approaches (think beyond IP and port ACLs!) will enable IT to keep pace with the evolving threat.
- People will clearly understand how to map their application portfolio to the myriad clouds in the market. Insomuch as mainframes still exist (indeed are a growth area for some), so will on premise IT, private cloud, boutique cloud, and hyper scale cloud. All remain relevant. Much of the new development, so called “born in cloud” applications, will likely align with the hyper scale cloud, while the vast majority of existing enterprise applications will not.
- There will be a severe shortage of developers who can truly capitalise on the value proposition of hyper scale cloud. There is already a shortage, and many “born in cloud” applications are really just traditional designs deployed to the cloud. Applications, even newly developed ones, often rely on the infrastructure layer to provide resilience. The next generation of applications engineered to provide resilience at the application layer – i.e. those that can tolerate infrastructure failure – will suffer until this developer shortage is addressed. This is long term problem that will require one or more higher education cycles to resolve.
- Private cloud will see a short lived resurgence. Early adopters of public cloud will re-evaluate the commercial fit of private cloud – and late adopters may move directly to private cloud due to regulations and compliance needs. Cloud economics are compelling for a wide variety of use cases, but a CAPEX investment supporting a stable, long term application base often makes sense. In addition, many regulatory bodies regularly lag innovation, and private cloud often addresses compliance obligations while still providing many of the benefits of public cloud. This resurgence is likely to be short lived as regulatory bodies catch up, applications evolve, and more flexible pricing models for public cloud prevail.
If you agree/disagree with my predictions or if you have any of your own, I would love to hear from you, find me on Twitter @DGrimesCloud
David Grimes is CTO at NaviSite
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”