Insights

The Emergence of Automation

In recent years, there has been a huge increase in the number of companies outsourcing their IT departments globally, the main drivers being lowering costs, unavailability of skilled people and a focus on hiring core business competencies.

Today, the main reason for keeping the IT department in-house is the fact that IT and the business are increasingly interdependent; in fact, IT is crucial for survival in more ways than one. The IT department not only supports several business systems used by C-level executives, it is also the sole manager of the company’s databases and data warehouses, where raw business data is transformed into valuable information used by analysts, controllers and various stakeholders in the company.

There is a catch to all this: without the right people, knowledge sharing and efficient processes, all effort would be worth less than intended. For the CFO to know about IT systems, and the CIO to know about the business' needs, both departments must collaborate closer than ever before.

Data is Now Everybody’s Business

Any company that vies for a place among the corporate stars needs their data faster and organized in a more efficient way. Unfortunately, many companies struggle with this requirement. Inefficient BI reporting systems, delays in processes and inefficient data extraction all cause even further delays and continue to be real challenges in many organizations. Without the right tools, you won’t get your data fast enough.

The question is: Can your organization handle it?

A company needs to be prepared and ready to sustain and operate as a data-focused organization. The company should be flexible with the ability to scale and adapt to new technologies and innovation as they come to market. Cross-functional training and discussions should occur to ensure all are working in concert toward the same overarching goals and leveraging the same platforms and systems. Training and knowledge sharing for IT and functional groups should take place. Additionally, the removal of any barriers and resistance to change, communication, flexibility and training should be communicated from the top down through the organization and ranks.

Should your IT and business work closely together? Is there room for improvement? Business today is complex and challenging. Regardless of size or industry, businesses everywhere are facing several challenges, such as:

  • Heightened need for effective collaboration and communication
  • Complex processes that must work error-free on a daily basis
  • Establishing and maintaining high data quality
  • Consistently producing efficient service delivery
  • Escalating operational costs tied to traditional methods
  • Increasing expectations of scalability

Here Comes Automation

These needs have spurred the rise of automation, as illustrated in this infographic, which delivers a smarter and more agile enterprise. Through automation, businesses can bridge gaps and more efficiently deliver value to achieve goals and priorities. This enables organizations to collaborate more effectively with the highest level of confidence in complex processes that delivery consistently high data quality with easy scalability.

Automation has many key components:

  • Data structure includes aggregation, structuring and presenting data accurately and consistently in a robust and reliable way.
  • ETL allows for rapidly extracting, transforming and loading data from a variety of sources and operational systems into data warehouse and dimensional cubes.
  • Data modeling replaces manual coding and documentation work by modeling and generating code, resulting in accelerating implementations.
  • Data warehousing practices automate the entire data warehousing process and life cycle, from source system analyst to testing and documentation.

This is not to say that we should automate simply for the sake of “automating.” Quite the contrary. From one perspective, it is about keeping up with new industry progression and practices. The world is awash with talk of automation. From the pervasiveness and ubiquity of algorithms to the advances in robotics, companies are finding new ways to create accelerated and error-free processes, often by the judicious use of vast oceans of data coupled with “data-driven” methods of acting on this data.

In some conceptions, this rise of automation is very much about replacing humans (and therefore cost) from the equation of business. While there is much to be concerned about here, there is a whole other angle that is not as cynical and is likely behind much of the automation we find in the world of software.

Take for example data warehouse automation (DWA). With DWA, a company can leverage a quick, agile and scalable way of helping users access the right information in the right format at the right time. Automation in this case means reducing the time it takes to extract wisdom from data.

It goes further. DWA also means the ability to ensure that views of historical data are error-free and not only as strong as the weakest data source. Put differently, in this case, automation is all about ease, accessibility and helping people spend more time on more meaningful work. DWA is therefore about liberating the human, not constraining him or her.

In the end, we cannot remove complexity with data management systems, but when we automate data management the amount of complexity becomes easier to work with. The right data is critical for a business. The right data is there for the taking when automating the necessary processes occurs, so companies can spend resources analyzing the data instead of validating it.

The world is still complex, and so is business. However, with DWA, it will not be the same as before as users can now analyze data, crunch numbers, and get real time updates with almost no wait time. This saves a company myriad time and money, and substantially improves decision-making capability.

Article written by Heine Krog Iversen
Image credit by Getty Images, Cultura, Monty Rakusen
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