Automation is ‘critical’ to enhance future workflows

1 hour ago

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Kevin Lynch of Red Hat discusses the benefits of digitally transforming businesses, along with tips on how to get there and the potential challenges that need to be addressed.

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While automation is not a new concept, discussions around its applications develop as the technology advances.

The concept has shifted from automation in factories and manufacturing to automation in a wider variety of workplaces. The recent surge in AI technology – particularly generative AI – has also spurred on the potential for businesses to transform and automate more services.

Some groups have discussed how the advancement of AI and automation could lead to the next industrial revolution, while others share concerns that this technology could lead to job losses.

Keith Lynch, the country manager for Red Hat’s Irish operations, believes that automation and digital transformation will be “critical components” in enhancing future workflows and IT orchestrations.

“Automation enables enterprises to streamline repetitive tasks, reduce manual errors and allocate human resources to more strategic initiatives,” Lynch said. “By automating routine operations, businesses can increase efficiency, enhance productivity and achieve faster time-to-market for products and services.”

Lynch said that various industries are showing clear examples of improving their efficiency through the use of automation technology. Amadeus, a global tech provider for the travel industry, has been using Red Hat’s services such as its Enterprise Linux and OpenStack technology.

Lynch said that this was used to automate various aspects of Amadeus’ IT operations, such as provisioning and managing virtualised resources, which resulted in “improved efficiency and scalability”.

“Furthermore, digital transformation, which encompasses cloud computing, containerisation and DevOps practices, plays a pivotal role in reshaping workflows, while modernising applications and infrastructure,” Lynch said. “This empowers enterprises to build, deploy and manage applications consistently across on-premises, private and public cloud environments.”

The path to automation

But implementing new forms of automation isn’t the same journey for every sector, with some businesses having a longer path to follow than others.

Regardless, Lynch said the first step for any business is to develop an automation strategy that shows “clear objectives and outcomes”. These could include streamlining repetitive tasks, improving efficiency, enhancing security or enabling scalability.

“A well-defined strategy provides a roadmap for implementation,” Lynch said. “We recommend starting with automating smaller, well-defined tasks or processes. As confidence and proficiency grow, gradually expand automation efforts to more complex workflows and systems.”

Adopting the right technology is also important, with Lynch suggesting open-source options as they can promote flexibility, interoperability and prevent “vendor lock-in”.

Culture changes within a business are also beneficial to adopt automation and Lynch said enterprises should encourage “cross-functional collaboration” between relevant teams such as development and operations divisions.

“Finally, it’s important to implement monitoring and reporting tools to track the performance and impact of automation,” Lynch said. “This enables you to identify areas for optimisation and measure the ROI of automation initiatives.

“By following these strategies and best practices, businesses can effectively navigate the journey towards automation.”

Roadblocks on the path

There are various challenges that businesses may face when adopting new technology and bringing in changes to their businesses.

One key issue highlighted by Lynch is the complexity of integrating new automation and digitalisation tools with existing systems and workflows, which can be tackled more effectively with “careful planning and expertise”.

There can also be skill gaps for staff when new technology is introduced into an organisation, which could be fixed through training and professional development opportunities.

Adopting new technology can also open the door to security concerns, as there is a looming threat of cyberattackers who can exploit vulnerable systems.

“Ensuring the protection of sensitive data and systems requires robust cybersecurity measures and best practices,” Lynch said. “Adhering to industry-specific regulations and compliance standards is also critical.

“By acknowledging and addressing these challenges, companies can better prepare themselves for a successful adoption of automation tools. Focus on careful planning, ongoing training and a flexible, adaptable approach to overcome these hurdles and realise the full benefits of automation and digitalisation.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic