The Role of RPA in IT Process Automation

3 min read

Common requirements of digital businesses are the need to create, improve and automate intelligent and adaptable processes.

Automation remains at the heart of many current digital transformation programs. However, most automation initiatives are business-focused, concentrated on improving customer experiences, order management, sales, marketing, finance and supply-chain operations.

Priorities are shifting

Digital transformation has increased the burden on IT teams, forcing enterprises to realize that IT process automation is equally important. IT skills and resources have become stressed and in short supply. Many organizations were plagued with excessive manual and repetitive IT tasks that diminished productivity. Unacceptable backlogs ensued. Moreover, the IT tools used to manage IT infrastructure, services, providers and workloads are often isolated, disconnected and lack orchestration when they need to work together to solve problems or respond to new opportunities.

Modernization and acceleration drive automation initiatives

In response, many organizations are modernizing their IT infrastructure and preparing to accelerate process automation initiatives across the enterprise and their lines of business. To understand their efforts, we surveyed 566 business and IT professionals that operate globally across diverse industries about their IT spending priorities. We found that among the respondents, 47% said IT infrastructure automation and 42% said business process automation are among their top IT spending priorities.

Top IT Spending Priorities: Focus on Automation

Q. What will your organization likely invest in to improve IT operations or service delivery?

Source: 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: Digital Pulse, Budgets & Outlook 2020 (n=566)

Source: 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: Digital Pulse, Budgets & Outlook 2020 (n=566)

IT process automation poses unique challenges. IT processes can execute across multiple platforms and involve a variety of technologies to manage a vast spread of physical and virtual resources. Dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of IT tools can be used from a variety of disparate vendors. Most don’t exchange data with one another. IT organizations realize that, over time, they have curated large and diverse IT toolsheds. In the current hyper-competitive digital business era, these tools must work together as integrated and interoperable toolchains across which IT processes can be automated.

Industry-leading enterprises now pursue IT process automation and toolchain integration as force multipliers. Their goal is to free and extend existing IT skills and resources to a broader range of business and IT initiatives.

IT centers of excellence improve and automate IT processes

It begins by establishing an IT center of excellence (CoE) responsible for improving and automating IT processes. One of the primary tasks of an IT CoE is to inventory, document and organize IT processes within a classification framework. Then, it manages the processes as strategic assets within an IT process portfolio document (or data repository that captures information about the value and importance of the processes, their function in operations and the tactical IT resources they consume (among other relevant information). Then, the IT CoE examines the processes within the portfolio using process discovery technologies that can visualize and analyze IT processes and IT workforce activities to reveal opportunities for automation. These data-driven analytic techniques provide the means to intelligently design automations using robotic process automation (RPA) technology.

RPA augments IT skills

Robotic process automation (RPA) technology creates software robots (bots) that can automate repetitive human activities within and across IT processes. RPA provides capabilities to automate data and process flows together at a granular level — e.g., app forms and data fields — to enable inter-application data and process integration between source and target systems. It can use various artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to make sense of unstructured data, help guide automation designs, enable them to become smarter as they execute and augment the skills of IT professionals with intelligent means to make recommendations, predictions and decisions. In this regard, RPA can create digital workforces to augment IT organizations with skills to make them more efficient and multifaceted in their capabilities.

Industry-leading organizations are pursuing RPA to facilitate collaboration among IT professionals to reduce errors, cost and cycle times, to improve business performance toward specific or desired outcomes and to perform at scale. When RPA plays a central role in IT process automation, IT organizations can be more effective in their efforts and efficient in the execution of their tasks. This also gives IT organizations the ability to extract greater value from all other IT investments.

Learn more

Read the full report here. For more information on assessing the benefits of automation, read Robotic Process Automation: A No-Hype Buyer’s Guide.

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