In recent months, I have been visiting Digitate customers in multiple countries. One topic many of them brought up was how to mitigate risk due to world uncertainty. What inspired all these concerns? The global pandemic that started in 2020 took center stage and changed the definition of risk, on the professional as well as the personal level.
COVID served as not only a warning that another global pandemic could strike — it showed that all kinds of so-called “black swan” events might happen, and therefore IT leaders needed to prepare for those as well.
Of course, IT and digital services stood up quite well against COVID compared to other key components of the economy, such as just-in-time supply chains. Lights stayed on and remote work and entertainment options helped reduce the burden of lockdowns. But is IT resilient against the next disruptive global event?
IT leaders can’t rest on their laurels
As IT leaders we need to look very skeptically at our plans for the next global emergency. For example, mitigating service risks via a contract that simply passes them to service providers might not be an effective strategy. Hoping that a contract will guarantee continued five-nines uptime when large chunks of the workforce are out sick or shut in their homes, key components are unavailable, or the electricity keeps cutting out is myopic.
What can protect enterprise IT against disruption, in my judgment, is IA (intelligent automation). Of course, IA is not capable of protecting against every risk. However, it’s an excellent way to mitigate human-caused risks to IT operations because automation lowers their exposure to manual processes. (In fact, when you fully adopt intelligent automation, approximately 80% of your Standard Operating Procedures are executed by a machine.)
These risks cluster in three major categories:
- Continuity of service
- Quality of service
- Security of service
These risks have quantifiable costs – and I’ll show how to frame this problem in tangible, addressable terms. After all, any disruption to digital services can interfere with business functions and customer satisfaction, resulting in revenue losses, higher overhead costs, and more.
- Inability to provide services due to climate or geopolitical risk. Even if the network is available, people might not be able to access it due to personal and environmental disruptions.
- New government policies and regulations. (For example, some governments or companies in sensitive industries, such as defense, might demand that IT work must be delivered only by that country’s citizens.)
- Lack of IT staff to fill off-peak shifts. New college graduates have higher expectations than spending their nights and weekends in a command center executing repetitive scripts.
- IT staff turnover (averaging 10-12% a year): Replacing IT support staff is challenging because extensive training is required. Plus, this function depends more than you might think on “tribal knowledge” – knowledge of local quirks that’s passed on by word of mouth, so it’s seldom documented. (You don’t want to find out too late that the grizzled veteran who retired last year was the only one who knew how to patch old PeopleSoft code.)
- IT staff lack continuous focus. Many IT operations tasks are very repetitive, and the human brain is less efficient than machines at doing the same thing over and over.
- IT staff pride in delivering service: Quality is tightly related to staff passion. Job expectations are radically changing; The new generation of IT staff is less passionate about the often-long hours and tedious duties of support than previous generations.
- IT staff operate in hybrid mode (both in the office and remotely). This increases the risk of password mismanagement.
- IT teams are usually staffed by many people operating in different locations (onshore, near-shore, and offshore). The more locations, the higher the risk of a security or data breach.
- IT production environments are in continuous evolution as they respond to new demands or upgraded components. And while responsiveness and improvement are desirable, change always has to be managed so it doesn’t open the door to mistakes. IA frees up knowledgeable production people to focus on managing that change. (And of course, when the new processes are stabilized, IA can predict their behaviors to provide preventive maintenance.)
The common thread in all three risk categories is the human factor. Of course, we could never automate people entirely out of the loop. Nor would we want to; we need humans to innovate and think strategically. However, leaving less to chance through intelligent automation is an important step in reducing risk exposure.
COVID gave us a bitter lesson: Our global economy was not resilient enough. IA adoption can help to mitigate probable risks to our digital world due to an unpredictable environment. When you define your intelligent automation transformation, focus not only on optimization but also value.
Forrester Consulting has estimated that Digitate’s intelligent automation platform, ignio, can create millions of dollars of value for the average enterprise, through improved performance, reduced risk, greater revenue assurance, and other benefits. Click here to learn more.