By Ravi Srinivasan, Sr. Product Manager — HP Cloud and Automation
As a new style of IT emerges in response to growing trends like mobility, cloud, social, and big data, many companies are looking to technology to address business challenges. However, technology alone is not always the complete solution. Some transformations are complex enough that technology is only one piece of the puzzle.
The drive towards greater process automation in IT is one of those transformations. As many enterprises aggressively adopt cloud technologies, IT process automation plays an important role in ensuring the highest levels of system performance and information availability. But in order to make IT automation initiatives a success—truly creating value for the business by leveraging IT’s competency—IT must make not just implement technology, but also align people and processes.
As large companies focus on automating the business of IT, people and processes present unique challenges. Here are some aspects of the problem to consider.
Automation will require IT to implement complex end-to-end processes that cut across multiple domain groups. Each group will typically have different priorities, commitments as well as different levels of expertise.
IT will also need to more formally shift some ownership of processes to the lines of business, where they can be tuned for optimal responsiveness. Interactions between IT and business groups naturally reflect the culture of the organization, and today they are often rudimentary and ad hoc, involving many people with a hodgepodge of approaches to exchanging knowledge via information systems. For automation to succeed with complete end-to-end processes, IT and business groups will need to establish a more elegant approach.
Of course in the midst of all this change, IT must continue to improve overall efficiency and provide assurance and integrity with high levels of service quality.
As an internal service provider, IT personnel will need to change as well. This new style of IT forces professionals to play different roles in a more adaptive, flexible organization. In many large companies, the term “agile IT” is an oxymoron. But for end-to-end process automation to really be effective, IT needs to break down barriers and find new ways to collaborate across silos so, for example, database admins talk to end-server admins. Similarly, people in business groups will need to work more closely with IT staff to enable services in rapid fashion. These are as much cultural changes and shifts in attitude as they are about technology or processes.
Forming an Automation Center of Excellence
Establishing a Center of Excellence for automation is an effective method of comprehensively addressing the range of transformations required in technology, people and processes.
As an organization, the COE relies on using a professional network and communities for a matrix of linkages, and is more focused on providing guidance, not operational control. Ultimately its purpose is to liberate resources of respective IT groups and business units in order to empower the organizations for business growth.
A strategically sound COE will have multiple benefits:
Enable engineers, IT operations and support to do more work in a quality, consistent and compliant manner
Provide central-led governance and control to establish business practices to simplify and automate to manage a growing, complex IT environment
Leverage successful leaders and subject matter experts from across organization to establish Community of Best Practices, processes and tools