IT trends report shows new technology adoption is crucial to business success
A new report, IT Trends Report 2015: Business at the Speed of IT, from IT performance management software specialist Solar Winds demonstrates the significance of IT and IT’s ability to successfully adopt and implement new technology that drives business success. It also highlights the need to empower IT to overcome the challenge of delivering on the promise of these technologies and potential business impact in today’s increasingly hybrid environments. While 96 percent of IT professionals surveyed said adopting significant new technologies is important, many cited barriers to successful adoption that have resulted in achieving mixed results, such as budget (77 percent) and shortage of personnel (44 percent)—two key areas they also identified as top needs to feel more empowered.
“These findings highlight the vital role that IT and technology now play for today’s businesses. Businesses can only progress and perform as quickly as IT enables them to—it’s business at the speed of IT,” said Suaad Sait, executive vice president, products and markets, SolarWinds. “Empowering IT—especially to successfully adopt and implement new technologies quickly—should be a top priority for every organisation. This will become more important as we move further into the hybrid cloud era. The Cloud offers tremendous opportunity to streamline business and reduce costs, yet, as the study finds, three out of five organisations have migrated less than 25 percent of their infrastructure and about one in ten have not migrated anything. IT must be given the resources they need to make this transition. Otherwise their businesses may suffer.”
OK, what exactly do businesses face if they are not up to speed with new technology adoption, I asked Suaad. "Firstly, the speed and performance of your applications becomes an issue. This can be an on-premise application or a hosted app or one in the cloud, which causes end-users to complain. As a result, 'slow is the new down' – and the hunt begins for what is causing poor performance. It could be the network, the system, the database, storage array or the application itself. When performance becomes a problem, businesses can unfortunately loose customers, or experience problems when gaining a new one. Businesses should ask: 'Can we afford not to respond?'
"Secondly, if your competitors are adopting technology faster than you and their business is moving faster, you can lose out. Better integration of systems increases the efficiency of the business, and is more effective than phone calls and manual processes.
"Thirdly, in this day and age, there are lots of compliance standards that you have to follow for IT environments which must be adhered to, or else risk breaking the law. Moving to implement the compliance tech quickly is key."
Finally, he says, time is money for business. "If you need five servers, two databases, and you need them now, you can buy all the hardware for it, which could take weeks, or you can use your credit card and be up and running with what you need in five minutes.
Among the key findings of the survey are:
- Nearly all (96 percent) of IT professionals who responded to the survey indicated that adopting significant new technologies is at least somewhat important to their organisation’s long-term success; of those, 42 percent said it is important and another 20 percent said it is extremely important
- Budget limitations ranked as the top barrier to adopting those significant new technologies, followed by inability to convince decision makers of the need and/or benefit and concerns around disrupting business/end user performance, respectively
- While 63 percent of survey-takers indicated they view their organisations’ CIO as an enabler in adopting significant new technologies, more than one-quarter said their CIO is either a barrier or uninvolved
Without empowering IT to effectively overcome these barriers, organisations struggle to achieve expected results from technology adoption within anticipated timeframes, and to ensure overall business-critical technology performance.
- More than half of IT professionals surveyed said it took longer than anticipated—24 percent said much longer—for the last significant new technology their organisation adopted to start impacting business and/or end-user efficiency
- Less than half of the survey-takers said their organisations’ last adoption of a significant new technology achieved expected return on investment within the projected timeframe; while more than one-third said it took longer than expected—13 percent of those said it took much longer
- Nearly 90 percent of respondents said their organisations’ end-users were negatively affected by a performance or availability issue with business-critical technology in the past twelve months; nearly a quarter of those reported that such issues occurred six times or more
To better empower IT to overcome these barriers and drive the success of their businesses through technology adoption, organisations must first provide IT with more resources, better training and development and greater autonomy.
- More than 40 percent of survey-takers said more resources, such as budget, personnel and time, ranked as their number one need to feel more empowered
- Stronger CIO support when liaising with other business leaders (31 percent), more or better strategic counsel and guidance from the CIO (29 percent), more or better training and development (26 percent), greater IT department autonomy (26 percent) rounded out the list of IT’s top five needs ranked number one by IT professionals surveyed.
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.”