How to Overcome Common Setbacks in IT Automation

Don’t automate for the sake of automating. Identify which tasks/processes will experience automation benefits that outweigh its upfront and recurring costs.

Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary

November 8, 2019

3 Min Read
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Automation makes digital transformation possible. Consumers, employees, and all other stakeholders who interact with organizations demand the best, fastest, and most rewarding digital experiences. To keep pace, IT teams are automating their infrastructure wherever and whenever possible.

Gartner projects that by 2023, 40% of infrastructure and operations teams will deploy AI-augmented automation in large enterprises, resulting in high IT productivity. As an innovative process that, when executed effectively, will free up staff for higher level work, improve security, increase ROI, and reduce errors and process variability, automation is critical for any competitive enterprise. Additionally, by identifying automatable tasks, organizations are free to spend time where it truly matters -- driving toward business goals.

Despite the resource-saving benefits of automation, IT decision makers sometimes push this productivity enhancing technology to the back burner after encountering the first setbacks. Common hurdles like complex IT environments, tool sprawl, and poor strategy can be enough to halt automation in its tracks. To help CIOs navigate these pesky automation stressors, I’ll explore common challenges and provide strategies to help organizations jumpstart their relentless automation journey.

Complex IT environments make automation difficult

Enterprises increasingly find themselves competing with new, agile start-ups that can move and pivot quickly. These young companies are nimble, in part, because their IT infrastructure is fresh and built for today’s technology -- including automation.

But over time, and with well-established enterprise companies, IT environments can grow complex. This happens for many reasons including technology changes, new tools being implemented, varying management techniques, and general tech debt.

When components and processes of an IT environment are unique and bespoke, it’s nearly impossible to automate to scale, as each action requires a unique path.

Before automating, IT teams must create a conducive environment by standardizing processes and pooling shared infrastructures. This creates a greenfield environment for application developers to consume. The streamlined configuration makes it possible to build recognizable, repeatable, and automatable actions.

Automation tool sprawl

Enterprises must understand that over-automation does not equal successful automation. Automation features exist in a large chunk of the management tools on the market, and each tool boasts a unique benefit or capability. Unfortunately, these diverse tools are not always readily compatible, creating a need for more service orchestration functions. The consequence? An organization may experience an uptick in overall spending.

While each management tool may have its own enticing capabilities and key features, a company must identify which tools will get them where they need to be and act accordingly.

Lack of strategy and mandate

Because of complex environments and notable tool sprawl, the information technology industry is experiencing a lot of inertia with respect to automation. But understanding the benefits of automation and failing to evolve accordingly will negatively impact a company’s bottom line. Organizations that lack a mandate will remain unmotivated until change is imperative and, therefore, will struggle to determine where and how to apply automation.

Of course, no organization should automate for the sake of automating -- and not every task needs to be automated. By weighing the complexity and nuance of a task, as well as the frequency of its occurrence, IT teams can identify which tasks and processes will experience automation benefits that outweigh its upfront and recurring costs. By maintaining a standardized resource pool, selecting the right management tools, and establishing a strategic automation model, companies can embark on their relentless automation journey and free up resources to drive their organizations forward.


Derek Wise is a managing principal with Ahead. He brings more than 15 years of experience guiding enterprises toward a service-delivery framework by leveraging best in breed technology and design. In addition to leading infrastructure projects, Wise has extensive experience in desktop/application virtualization, mobility technologies, IaaS strategy and data center transformation.


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Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary

The InformationWeek community brings together IT practitioners and industry experts with IT advice, education, and opinions. We strive to highlight technology executives and subject matter experts and use their knowledge and experiences to help our audience of IT professionals in a meaningful way. We publish Guest Commentaries from IT practitioners, industry analysts, technology evangelists, and researchers in the field. We are focusing on four main topics: cloud computing; DevOps; data and analytics; and IT leadership and career development. We aim to offer objective, practical advice to our audience on those topics from people who have deep experience in these topics and know the ropes. Guest Commentaries must be vendor neutral. We don't publish articles that promote the writer's company or product.

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