Previously, I discussed the growing importance of automation technology for Fortune 500 organizations, and the need to prepare for an environment of rapid innovation. To keep pace in the age of “Digital Darwinism” and ramp up innovation, firms must remove bottlenecks that impede humans’ ability to partner with the machines.

To embark on a true digital transformation journey and make full use of its autonomic potential, organizations can take advantage of the flexibility offered by cloud platforms while pursuing highly integrated DevOps capabilities.

This is not to say that computerized, automated processes will take the place of human workers. Rather, employees will work in tandem with their technology to unleash greater productivity. In the same way that bicycles are designed to enhance human speed, rather than replace cyclists, automation allows employees to accelerate their workflow and make way for more strategic tasks.

Advanced Cloud Use Paves the Road for Operational Excellence

Most organizations have already gone a long way toward familiarizing themselves with the Cloud, largely driven by employees’ own use of cloud-based tools. The next step for businesses is using the Cloud to better integrate operations and development, providing a common platform to create, manage and deploy new tools in a fraction of the time required by traditional methods.

Consider the fate of established media companies struggling to compete with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. For these businesses, embracing the Cloud (along with the efficiency and economy of scale it offers) is the difference between relying on outdated distribution channels and making the leap to the online on-demand consumption model.

Perhaps most important of all, a fully developed cloud strategy allows firms to support continuous application delivery. By moving beyond manual processes, cloud-enabled organizations are limited only by the speed of their development cycle rather than the capabilities of their provisioning infrastructure.

Integrated DevOps Sets the Cadence, Creates an Edge

Having a speedy development cycle and the infrastructure to support it are paramount, but businesses must still break development and operations out of their respective silos. Automation in the application development process must be met with parallel automation on the operations side, in regards to monitoring, diagnostics and remediation. Poor coordination between the two sides can bring innovation efforts to a standstill, not to mention increase risk.

Better DevOps integration also unlocks a trove of data that enables more sophisticated automation capabilities, like machine learning and predictive analytics. For instance, predictive analytics reframes the customer interaction and allows your organization to take a more active role, suggesting products based on customer purchase history or other identifiers.

The Finish Line: Business Transformation

Automation has paved the way for organizations to expedite their business cycle, freeing their people to focus on high value work while generating volumes of data that translate into future business opportunities. From here, the potential to instill smarter operations – through cognitive computing, digital assistants and natural language processing – is boundless.

The ongoing emergence of digital disruptors has placed a premium on organizations’ ability to adapt and evolve. The better firms can coordinate internally and not only respond to market demands quickly, but actually anticipate customer needs. In the “survival-of-the- fittest” digital era, speed and flexibility are the keys to longevity and success.