Confronting the Hidden Risks of IT Automation

Confronting the Hidden Risks of IT Automation

With automation increasingly becoming an indispensable IT strategy for competitive advantage, enterprises need to take a pragmatic approach and heed the precautions associated with it.

Enterprises worldwide seek to speed up all manners of functions to remain competitive, through IT automation, artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), or some other means of eliminating or reducing manual processes.

The benefits associated with automating processes can be compelling: faster completion of tasks with fewer errors and at lower costs, for instance. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that the demand for automation tools is on the rise. Despite economic pressures created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the RPA market going forward may see accelerated growth.

The key drivers for RPA deployments include the ability to improve process quality, speed, and productivity, and each of these is equally important as enterprises strive to meet the demands of cost reduction during the crisis. Enterprises continuously look for ways to digitally empower critical business processes through scalability and resilience while minimizing human labor and manual effort.

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However, automation, like all technology and innovation initiatives, comes with disruption and its own set of risks.

Optimization before Automation

There is often a missed-step before automation. It’s essential first to optimize the processes involved instead of deploying IT automation technologies straight away. If an organization does not optimize processes prior to automation, there can be several pitfalls.

Organizations could end up with a faster rate of failure than they had before automating, which increases the burden on team members rather than lowering it. Regardless of the technology, organizations need to take the time to review what they are doing and first prioritize cleaning it up.

Another significant risk involved is the process-automation mismatch. The execution of an automation plan doesn’t always deliver the expected benefits and sometimes creates new challenges. Understanding the requirements from business users before developing or deploying a system and after the automation technology is in place can essentially help enterprises avoid a few issues.

Importance of Interaction Design

How the automation technology interacts with users is fundamental to adopting and improving tools such as RPA and natural language processing (NLP).

If the automation process has never been revisited or improved from the time it has been deployed, there is a likelihood that it is has become more or less obsolete. For instance, if enterprise IT creates poor technology interfaces and poor interaction design, the automation will never progress to be fit to purpose. Users may avoid using the tools and processes, which would result in manual work and fewer opportunities to scale.

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Therefore, users should be given a chance to provide inputs to the automation, whether via NLP or self-service. Organizations can then continuously draw on the information provided to improve workflows.

Overcome Automation-Induced Complacency

With continuing advances in technology, the temptation to view automation as infallible can lead to problems.

Surrendering the majority of the control to automation comes with a risk, whether it’s software in place to automate and accelerate business processes and transactions or the increasingly sophisticated BI technology that makes business decisions. Business leaders can’t let their skills atrophy in the face of algorithms that usually function without errors but sometimes fail in the most spectacular of ways.

Innovative solutions are bound to be disruptive, and with their benefits come risks. Having a pragmatic view of automation and preparing for such risks mitigation can make a big difference in reaching its maximum potential.