Avoiding inefficiencies through automation
BY LEON STAMM
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 4 2018)
Transformation and automation go together like sails and wind. What use is the greatest transformation strategy and the most amazing digital transformation project if the existing knowledge base and wealth of experience are not tapped into in time and sustainably converted into value? This hugely complex task can only be accomplished with automation, because even with the most experienced rowers, a sailing ship cannot sail as fast as with the power of the wind.
Fundamentally, each and every transformation, regardless of whether analogue or digital, is based on three main principles: concentrating on the core competencies, an increase in speed, and finally, total client focus. In other words, a process that marries continual improvement with an agile approach. To return to our maritime comparison: fortresses and strongholds never endured throughout history, unlike harbours, on the other hand. Let’s be honest: the knowledge relating to any form of transformation is nothing new. Starting with the invention of printing, steam engines, the potential of the open internet all the way through to the break-neck speed of global web-based activities, smart terminal devices and an enormous data pool comprising structured and even more unstructured data.
The possibilities are almost endless, as are the requirements for processing information. If we consider that information processing is the core competence of all insurance companies, banks and service providers, then the fact that major insurers and financial institutions in particular experience such difficulties when transforming their business models should really not come as a surprise. From more than 300 very complex transformation projects we have learned that platform technologies play a hugely important role – ideally, they should be structured as a layered model, creating a flexible universe. When taking the company’s computing centre into consideration, one aspect to be put into question is whether this centre is a stronghold or harbour, or rather a fortress or a dynamic compound? This exact intelligent combination from both worlds makes all the difference when it comes to information technology.
We believe that an intelligent blend of extremely robust core technologies coupled with an ecosystem comprising dynamic, standardisable open-source technologies are the decisive success factors. Here, the pivotal question has to be: are my IT platforms robust and securely integrated today? Is the networking interactive, resilient, encrypted and standardised? Is there a stable IT infrastructure in place, in particular when dealing with the exchange of large volumes of data, which ideally should be encrypted and auditable at all times? How can the business applications based on this be managed and how to carry out important system work such as regular updates, backup and recovery services?
Only when the information-processing fortresses have been intelligently networked is it possible to steer or manage in real time. This is the only way to create a so-called integrated data supply chain which is managed by business events and not by means of planning, whatever its nature. This is the only way to create agility and speed for failsafe and current business decisions. This is the only way to create a robust, resilient and intelligent IT automation platform, although I much prefer the backbone comparison. Ten aspects are crucial along the path towards a “dynamic computing centre” in order to ideally be able to guarantee instructions for any IT transformations.
Dynamic automation is therefore the fundamental prerequisite for all forms of transformation and an intelligent platform strategy is the critical element here. Without automation there is no scaling, without scaling there is no digitalisation, and without digitalisation there are no new markets and customers.
To begin with, you become an IT services broker, in particular of cloud services. Anyone going beyond this offer while acting in a more dynamic and intelligent manner will reap the rewards. Developing a roadmap can certainly be a useful tool in doing so. Second of all, reduce the hardware mentality while instead concentrating on services which you must offer in order to ensure your company’s success. Continual investments should furthermore be made into the teams’ skills, closing gaps in their qualifications by promoting talent and recruitment in order to achieve the vision. The fourth aspect involves preparing for the future integration of private and public cloud services while taking hybrid interoperability into account. People, processes and technologies should be taken into particular consideration. Strategic cloud initiatives are scheduled to ensure success, allowing these three elements to have a synergistic effect. Promoting cooperation when setting up the right teams and skills and during the setup of collaborative, agile teams with IT application managers and partners is also on the agenda. Introducing a “service culture” is also considered to be useful, as IT acts as a service with training, integration and investments in a hybrid architecture. Another point is to think big. Transformation should be carried out in a series of small steps, however, in order to fulfil the dynamics of digital business through incremental effectuation. Further steps for an ideal IT transformation include supporting innovations and establishing a “can-do” culture. This creates a “learning organisation” which provides support through continual improvement. Last but not least, the success of your IT service should be determined by evaluating the company objectives, which is why the value of IT services should be represented to managerial staff in the form of KPIs which in turn represent the company’s priorities.
This is a complicated journey, one that begins with concentrating on the core competencies and a defined roadmap and which ideally paves the way to cloud automation. The first step involves the intelligent and resilient networking of the automation islands to create an IT automation backbone. The introduction of a data supply chain and the associated auditable event control of crucial business processes is subsequently carried out. Following this, web-based IT workload brokers subsequently enable the step-by-step harmonisation of application automation with the aim of continual improvement. A learning organisation, resilient and agile and featuring the best of both worlds of the static fortress and the dynamic harbour. We simply call it “dynamic automation”.
Stonebranch is a globally leading provider of modern automation solutions that simplifies mission-critical IT business processes reliably and securely across complex and diverse IT environments. Its headquarters are in Atlanta, USA. The European headquarters are located in Frankfurt am Main.
Picture credit © Pete Wright/Unsplash