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Does automation help fast-track innovation?

Jennifer Marchand

In his piece, my colleague Charlie Li explored the benefits automation of legacy IT operations can have on organizations that choose to embrace it. His conclusion? Automate your traditional IT estate or fall behind.

This is supported by The automation advantage, our study of 415 global IT executives, at varying degrees of maturity, in applying automation to IT operations processes. Among those surveyed, a divide emerged between “Fast Movers” (the 20% most advanced in applying automation) and “Followers.”

The big takeaway? Fast Movers can provision infrastructure, and develop and deploy software with greater agility and scalability – all while reducing risk and cost. Compared to the Followers, they’re blazing a trail.

But how can a Follower become a Fast Mover? And just how important is automation CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) pipelines to achieving your wider business goals?

Rally around automation

IT leaders know how tricky it can be to rally the C-suite around digital transformation. Concerns about security, finances, and cultural resistance rear their head time and time again. But as 60% of Fast Movers attest, effective communication can overcome senior resistance with relative ease.

When communicating your strategy, it’s important to align automation with wider business goals your peers can identify with. Think: profit, time to market and innovation. Be ready to instill confidence that this is no IT vanity project, but the organization’s key to ongoing success.

Among the Fast Movers:

  • 75% use automation for business model innovation
  • 73% have automated application testing processes
  • 86% say automation has increased overall profitability
  • 59% have redeployed engineers to focus on new development.

But then there’s the matter of DevOps, or rather Enterprise DevOps. This is what we call it when businesses can deliver more, better, and faster – but with less.

Automation is critical to this cultural shift, enabling IT to move new code from development into production in minutes, even in traditional applications. As a result, software development and deployment ramps up across the entire estate, improving overall business agility.

Jean-Marc Defaut, executive VP and cloud COO at Capgemini, says:

“The first stage in the cultural shift is to improve collaboration between development and operations teams; but IT and business stakeholders also need to collaborate more closely to translate innovative business ideas into new features or services.”

How Fast Movers use automation

Innovation is a critical goal for any competitive businesses, but when some of your best talent is tied down by slow legacy processes, it’s easy to fall behind. However, as the 59% of Fast Movers who have successfully redeployed staff will confirm, automation goes far beyond just greater agility and scalability. Cloud automation can prompt a change that allows the enterprises to exploit resources’ creativity by eliminating “busy tasks.”

Let’s take a look at how three different organizations capitalized on automation of IT operations, and realised the rewards:

    At CA-SILCA, the IT services arm of the Crédit Agricole Group, the restructuring approach is characterized by specialization and autonomy that has led to an entirely new way of working. Through automation of their IT operations, the group created three new, small autonomous teams, each tasked with pushing innovation. One focuses on net access and hosting, one on big data and the community cloud, and the other on DevOps.

“Our earlier structure was too centralized. Now, all the infrastructure teams are in charge of automating their tasks.”

Philippe Sersot, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, CA-SILCA

  • Securitas
    In contrast to CA-SILCA, Securitas has chosen to combine automation with a degree of centralization to innovate within its business model. To manage this centralized hub,

VP for technology and transformation Jens Ekberg established a new business unit – one he calls “a center of excellence to deliver more streamlined services.” With the increased scalability and reduced time to market enabled by automation, Securitas can fundamentally rethink the way it does business – a strategy Ekberg refers to as “intelligent security.”

“Scalability and reducing time to market are important goals of automation for us. We also want to free up the resources that we have to enable us to really start to change the way we deliver IT services and focus more on business outcomes.”

Jens Ekberg, VP for technology and transformation, Securitas

In 2017, Cisco’s technology team underwent a major structural change. With the support of automation, it shifted from a matrixed to a vertical organization, enabling its architects, designers, engineers, and management to work all within the same pillar and expected to “drive and define everything with software at the core.” In addition to greater agility and innovation advantages, they we no longer have to fight over resources. In addition to greater agility and innovation advantages, they we no longer have to fight over resources.

“We have a lot of leaders among the engineers who say, ‘Why don’t we challenge the status quo? Why don’t we do this differently?’ That mindset has really helped us through this change.”

Jonathan Miranda, IT manager, Cisco

No one-size-fits-all

There’s no definitive way to drive a successful cloud automation strategy. What works for one organization may not for another – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consistent threads between all Fast Movers.

All of these companies have made automation a priority, aligned automation with their business strategy through clear needs and KPIs, and earned strong advocacy from senior leaders for cultural and financial backing. And for Followers that hope to one day join their ranks, they’ll first need leadership on their side.

Get the full report

To learn more about automation and its role in enabling innovation, read The automation advantage.

To benchmark your own organization – and find out whether you’re a Fast Mover or a Follower – take our survey