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Automation – Why the fuss?

We sat down with Ian Jansen van Rensburg, our Systems Engineering Director for VMware Sub-Saharan Africa, and asked him some quick-fire questions on the value and importance of automation. This is what he had to share.

Q: What are the benefits of automation in a business?

Ian: Automation is a sure-fire way to be able to automate workflows to help a business save money, boost productivity, and improve employees’ output. It does this by helping to eliminate tedious, time-consuming tasks that would otherwise absorb a team’s time.

Q: Give us an example of how automation is used to empower business?

Ian: A good example of automation is when a team can integrate their project management software with their customer support software. This type of integration then serves a problem report from a customer directly to the project management team. It’s useful as, rather than letting it sit in the inbox until someone actions it, it automatically sends it to the person assigned to deal with it as a task.

This is a very simplified type of automation. If you look at a tool like VMware vRealize Automation, you can use it to offload manual tasks with advanced workflows and agile templating as well as to set up and manage multi-cloud environments throughout the lifecycle with an intuitive, self-service consumption experience. To assist with security automation, it can help teams to establish consistent policies across multi-cloud environments and strengthen infrastructure with native compliance management, flexible guardrails, and vulnerability remediation.


Q: How should a company begin its journey towards automation?

Ian: The most challenging part of any project is usually building the technical solution, despite the fact that technology provides us with automated tools, like with the vRealize example above. It really is far more challenging to manage change.

Senior management often uses automation to increase efficiency in a particular department or process as their teams can use it to save time and money by using it as a point solution.


Q: What business processes and areas would be best suited for automation?

Ian: It is not just big corporations anymore that use automated systems; everyone can benefit from automation, even small businesses.

Examples include:
1. Responses to contact requests via email need to be made as soon as possible.
2. Let the customer know that their shopping cart has been abandoned.
3. Help should be available to clients as soon as possible.
4. Identify the level of client satisfaction.
5. Maintain a birthday list for every client.
6. Event registration can be automated.

Q: Are there any challenges one needs to look out for before the automation journey begins?

Ian: An important challenge in the automation process is identifying which processes can be automated, the lack of budget, the complexity of automating, and the change management process. If not handled appropriately, unresolved business process automation challenges may negatively affect the desired outcome.

So, let’s go back to the example of VMware vRealize Automation, with its ability to enable users to request and provision infrastructure resources across clouds with a unified and consistent IaaS consumption layer, self-service catalogue, and idempotent REST API – you inadvertently take back control by the very virtue of automation.

Q: Name some stand-out solutions?

Ian: Some organisations today are looking to improve the efficiency of their business processes and they do this by looking at using a single automation platform. Their needs all vary. Some want the software to help them be more productive, others are trying to improve the customer experience, and others are trying to improve the employee experience.

Another example of business automation is RPA or Robotic Process Automation. This software technology takes the time-consuming and complex process of building, developing, and deploying software robots and makes it easy for all software developers to build, deploy, and manage software robots that mimic human actions and interact with digital systems.

In the same way that people can understand what’s on a screen, perform keystrokes correctly, navigate systems, identify, and extract data, and perform a wide range of defined actions, software robots can do the same without getting up and stretching or taking a coffee break.



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