This is part five of our ongoing blog series on the Process Automation Decade, in which I examine how automation is evolving the workforce.
The need for automation has never been more urgent.
As COVID-19 continues to accelerate the shift toward a more distributed workforce, many companies are struggling to adapt quickly enough. Rapid digital transformation is the norm across all business verticals. No department is exempt — even IT.
At forward-thinking companies, technology expertise is no longer limited to IT. Departments from marketing to finance are actively involved in sourcing and vetting tech solutions — and some even build the tech they use every day.
This shift is triggering a broader evolution in the purpose and role of IT. Companies are increasingly looking to IT to collaborate closely with other departments on projects that drive business value. That means IT professionals must become not just technology experts, but technology process facilitators who can optimize how employees use technology across the organization.
At the same time, businesses still need great tech support, airtight provisioning processes, and all the other services that traditional IT departments provide. To balance these needs, companies should lift the burden of rote work from IT departments’ shoulders, while also making those departments faster and more flexible. Process automation is an important part of the solution.
The promise of process automation
Process automation isn’t about eliminating IT jobs — it’s about transforming them.
Traditional IT departments are often burdened with routine and repetitive administrative functions, from organizing and prioritizing help desk tickets to provisioning accounts for new hires.
But as companies’ digital transformations accelerate, IT departments are assuming a more central and strategic role in their organizations. There will be a learning curve as IT professionals familiarize themselves with workflows across various lines of business (LoBs) and work with LoB heads to determine how technology can optimize them. IT teams need to be able to focus their time and energy on these business-driving concerns rather than rote tasks.
As stronger digital capabilities lead to a more distributed IT workforce, automation can also improve accuracy and consistency across time zones and borders. Colleagues from around the world may work together on the same projects, within the same systems. Automation helps all of them stay on track.
What to expect from IT in the 2020s
The evolution of IT is already underway. Here are a few developments you can expect to see over the next decade:
Better compliance, security, and privacy
Today, most IT departments manually provision user accounts. This cumbersome process wastes time and creates opportunities for errors that can affect compliance, security, and privacy. IT departments also lack a centralized view of application credentials and infrastructure, leading to confusion when it’s time to audit.
By 2030, provisioning will be completely automated at most companies. This improves compliance, security, and privacy, and gives auditors more visibility into the system, helping avoid errors.
Faster fixes for IT issues
Today, inefficient ticketing systems lead to lost or duplicate requests and slower response times. IT departments waste time on rote tasks like assigning tickets and lack visibility into response metrics and other vital information.
By 2030, the automation of help desk tasks will cut down response times by freeing up employees’ time to address the issues themselves rather than performing administrative tasks. Real-time metrics will give companies insight into what problems are most pressing and where processes need to be improved.
More business value
Today, the majority of IT hours are devoted to administrative and support tasks, with only 10% of IT hours available for projects that drive business value. In addition, IT is often siloed and separate from other verticals, leading to a disconnect between IT and the business it is meant to serve.
By 2030, process automation will free up time for IT professionals to take on more high-level and creatively demanding work. By collaborating closely with other departments, they’ll be able to identify and act on opportunities to drive business value across the organization — for example, by applying tools like robotic process automation (RPA) or process mapping to optimize workflows. And they’ll accomplish all of this while still maintaining high-quality service across traditional IT functions like tech support.
Empowered IT drives business results
The transformation of IT won’t happen overnight. IT professionals will need time to learn new skills and familiarize themselves with processes across the organization. At some companies, IT departments may reorganize to align themselves more closely with business verticals, fostering deep, long-term collaboration.
However, the time to begin this transition is now. As more companies move permanently to a distributed work model, IT must take on new responsibilities — and that means shedding some old ones. Thoughtful, thorough process automation that takes rote work off IT professionals’ plates is a necessary step on the path to IT’s future.
Read our case study to learn how process automation helped a global IT services company manage complexity.