Automation is changing the face of business. AI-powered automation is letting organisation’s software systems become autonomous, improve problem-solving capabilities, leverage predictive analytics, and much more. Meanwhile, the UK government anticipates that spending on AI technologies could increase to between £27.2 billion and £35.6 billion by 2025, at annual growth rates of roughly 10% and 16% respectively.
Enterprise-wide IT automation is already making waves across the IT community. Our recent research report unveiled that 100% of IT leaders surveyed across the UK, France, Germany and Spain recognise the benefits of enterprise-wide IT automation. The report notably spells good news for UK companies: over a quarter (27%) of large UK businesses have already achieved enterprise-wide IT automation.
The majority of respondents surveyed from the UK have an automation strategy and are working towards enterprise-wide IT automation. They are either already on the path (29%) or have an automation strategy but haven’t commenced automation yet (25%). Only 4% haven’t automated any processes and don’t plan to.
The report – Thriving through change with enterprise-wide IT automation – surveyed 1,200 IT leaders in large businesses about the role of automation in their businesses today and tomorrow. From this, it examined the challenges that could hinder success.
When asked about the main challenges affecting their business, a lack of talent (22%) came up as one of the top concerns for IT leaders across Europe. In the UK, it is the most persistent challenge, with 27% of IT leaders citing this problem as their biggest challenge. For IT directors, in particular, 25% feel they did not have enough talented professionals.
The promise of automation
The report states that In the UK, 36% of IT leaders surveyed saw the top benefit of enterprise-wide IT automation as freeing up the business for more creative and strategic thinking.
The big challenge we see affecting organisations at the moment is the skills shortage. In a period of rapid tech evolution, businesses need to ensure their teams have the right skills to deal with these levels of change. Yet IT leaders are struggling to communicate to their departments why the ever-shifting tech landscape makes enterprise-wide automation both necessary and urgent.
At our 2023 Red Hat Summit, 90% of our conversations revolved around the team. The questions on leaders’ minds are: Where do I find the right people? How do I upskill them within my organisation? And can I motivate the wider teams to embrace change?
The challenges of adoption
The shortage of necessary skills is the most obvious barrier to enterprise-wide adoption. Out of all leaders surveyed, a lack of talent (22%) and an inability to retain quality talent (22%) were ranked as the 4th and 6th biggest challenges, respectively.
Even if there were a significant turnaround in skills, the situation remains nuanced. The potential for IT leaders across these industries to upskill their teams is offset by internal resistance. Of the respondents surveyed, 92% believed their teams are, or would be, reluctant to change for a variety of factors:
- A lack of time (45%);
- The changes being overwhelming or overly-technical (40%); or
- A general reluctance to be told what processes or technology to use (39%).
Therefore, although people in IT departments and beyond stand to gain a great deal from automation, the transition to full adoption depends on overcoming these barriers to change.
Four steps to achieve enterprise-wide IT adoption
1) Nurturing skills and talent
Enterprises today are asking where they can find the right people, how they can upskill them and how they can motivate wider teams to embrace change.
According to our IT leader respondents surveyed, consistent education and training was another top driver of successful change management (31%). Hiring new tech talent is not always easy, but alongside recruitment, organisations can invest resources in enhancing the skills of existing teams—especially in automation tools. Modernising the wider teams’ transferable skills base has a double benefit: it both empowers people and draws out their potential.
2) Effective change management
Rather than a top-down imposition, the transition to automated processes needs to be a collaborative and agile movement. People across businesses need to feel motivated and enabled from the beginning.
According to survey respondents, effective change management can be achieved by clearly outlining the benefits of change at the start, and throughout, the change process (32%). This requires giving teams the relevant education and training to ensure they have the skills to manage change (31%) and involving teams in the entire change journey so they have a voice (29%).
3) Educating the next generation
Casting a more long-term view, organisations can also help fuel the tech skill pipeline. Working with schools can encourage tech education for young people. Alongside this, businesses should cast the recruitment net beyond the STEM fields — by hiring veterans, increasing diversity across the workforce and/or running tech-focused apprenticeships, for example. Managing the skills crisis requires openness to a broader range of skills and experience that will help IT cater to the diverse customer base that organisations serve.
4) Empower teams to thrive through automation
The recent findings from Red Hat’s survey demonstrate that when you enable people to use AI, big data and the cloud in a meaningful way, it has the circular effect of increasing their sense of purpose and pride in their work. It gets them excited and helps them obtain that sparkle that comes from loving the work they do. It also helps them carry out their jobs more strategically and creatively.
Enterprise-wide IT automation will also let organisations transition from using intelligent AI to leveraging autonomous AI solutions. This will promote ongoing automation of manual tasks in line with human-designed strategies and goals.
Leading people into the era of automation
People are critical to the successful implementation of any enterprise-wide IT automation strategy. If there is any resistance within the workforce, or they do not have the requisite skills to make the transition, the adoption of automation technology will fail. This is true regardless of the strategy or platform used.
For instance, Ansible Lightspeed with IBM Watson Code Assistant makes the most of generative AI to simplify and augment the building and deployment of Ansible Playbooks. Entry-level automation admins can then create playbooks with ease and enhance the business’s ability to cut costs and fortify its security and compliance.
Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform enables consistent implementation, sharing and management of automation across the organisation while continuously providing security and compliance. With a single enterprise platform for building and operating automation at scale, IT leaders can better navigate today’s challenging landscape. Meanwhile, they can continue to drive business-critical growth, innovation and collaboration.
With the right tools and skills, everyone can attain the benefits of automation sooner rather than later.
Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of enterprise open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to deliver reliable and high-performing Linux, hybrid cloud, container, and Kubernetes technologies. Red Hat helps customers integrate new and existing IT applications, develop cloud-native applications, standardize on our industry-leading operating system, and automate, secure, and manage complex environments. Award-winning support, training, and consulting services make Red Hat a trusted adviser to the Fortune 500. As a strategic partner to cloud providers, system integrators, application vendors, customers, and open source communities, Red Hat can help organizations prepare for the digital future.