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The End of Automation Anxiety

By Chrystal Taylor, Head GeekTM, SolarWinds

If there's one thing 2020 has highlighted, it's that the world is constantly changing. For most industries-IT included-one constant spans the ages: a lingering concern about automation.

The very thing that helped pave the foundations for the industrial revolution and the world we know today has been a concern ever since, with the worry machines will take our jobs in one way or another. In 2021, we're likely to see the IT industry address this anxiety, embracing automation software solutions in a smarter way and freeing up tech professionals to prioritize the most important jobs.

So why 2021? In addition to making many of us consider our lifestyle choices, 2020's pandemic resulted in a tightening of budgets across the board. We're only likely to see the true impact of this over the next 12 months and beyond as organizations become accustomed to the next normal. To thrive, businesses need to look at ways they can be more efficient to get the most out of their teams, and automation can play a huge role.

More than ever before, employees are grasping the opportunity to redress work-life balance, many choosing remote working ahead of offices, and this presents organizations and tech teams with a whole host of new IT and operational challenges.

Automate to Optimize

With this in mind, automation in the IT industry in 2021 isn't about replacing people, and this is a key point when it comes to ending automation anxiety. Instead, automation will be used to optimize environments and reduce the time spent on the monotonous tasks nobody wants to do.

It's not just about saving time, either. Introducing automation can benefit your organization and help your IT pros in numerous ways, from cleaning up clutter in incident queues to prioritizing tickets and escalating priority issues, removing workflow bottlenecks, and assigning tickets based on particular skills and areas of expertise.

Businesses currently go out of their way to employ the best IT professionals, giving them a powerful advantage over their competitors. But this advantage often disappears in a sea of mundane incident tickets and other repetitive tasks, burying the skills and talent of the people hired primarily because of their, well, skills and talent.

Changing the Roles of IT Professionals

Whether it's automating time-consuming tasks like workstation patching, configuration changes for network devices, compliance checks and remediation, or server patching, the shift to automation is likely to revolutionize workflows.

With automation absorbing more repetitive, basic, and time-consuming tasks, your IT team can instead address higher-level needs, helping them achieve their full potential, focus on creativity and innovation, and deliver on more complex projects capable of helping your business get ahead.

There will be more time for training, and organizations can again look to unleash the skills, knowledge, and experience that makes their IT professionals so valued in the first place. As a result of improved workflows and the ability to concentrate on more interesting projects, IT experts will face reduced toil and lower stress levels. This is arguably one of the biggest benefits automation can offer, particularly during a pandemic where working and operational practices are already undergoing huge changes.  

With IT administrators focusing on the work they're more passionate about, staff turnover is also likely to reduce. After all, happy employees don't tend to look elsewhere, which can help cut onboarding costs.

Automating the Help Desk

One area primed for greater automation is the IT help desk. As monitoring and service desk integrations become more prevalent, IT pros will start the process of automating ticket assignments, asset updates, configuration management database (CMDB) updates, updates to customers, and more.

This will not only keep monitoring and service desk systems and teams in sync but take menial tasks and delays out of the equation, allowing common issues to be resolved faster and saving the business time and money. In short, the help desk will grow from a reactive tool into a proactive one, evolving into a central resource for all employee tech requests, a communication tool capable of bridging the gap between IT pros and end users.

Perhaps even more importantly, the newly evolved help desk will absolve IT professionals from owning every single end-user request. Service features will give administrators more time and empower them to use their experience and knowledge to identify the best ways to automate, delegate operations, and drive cross-departmental collaboration.

Automation Isn't for Everybody

Of course, this isn't to say automation is perfectly suited to every task. On the contrary, there are plenty of areas where IT teams will continue to offer the best service, such as learning new or novel patterns when handling network intrusion detection. But if your IT pros are spending a lot of time handling repetitive or routine tasks or sifting through huge amounts of data for specific and predefined criteria, it's time to put automation anxiety aside and facilitate progress.

However 2021 turns out, one thing's for sure: we need to stop fearing automation. Instead, it's time to embrace it, transforming organizations into places where talent can truly shine.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chrystal Taylor, Head Geek, SolarWinds

chrystal taylor 

Chrystal Taylor is a dedicated technologist with nearly a decade of experience and has built her career by leveraging curiosity to solve problems, no matter the size, industry, or client. Whether tinkering with the family computer, or inflicting general destruction in MS-DOS Tank Wars, Taylor has always been a geek.

Taylor is a SolarWinds deployment veteran who's built a successful IT career by translating client needs into optimized and performant systems. She loves customizing current deployments to ensure systems grow in tandem with user needs. She's achieved several SolarWinds certifications. A THWACK® MVP since 2011, she understands the power of community and the SolarWinds commitment to its users.

In her role as the Global Services Team Lead for Loop1 Systems, Taylor was the troubleshooting sniper, handling technical escalation for the engineering team, providing break/fix and augmentation support, and assisting clients as the subject matter expert for SolarWinds® Orion® Platform and Security Event Manager (SEM) (formerly Log & Event Manager) products. Her focus on capacity planning, server architecture, and troubleshooting allow her to attack any issue on multiple fronts. 
Published Friday, April 30, 2021 7:38 AM by David Marshall
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