Automation may be the key to enhancing IT’s role.
The pressure on today’s IT function is tremendous. And all signs suggest that automation may be the key to enhancing IT’s role. Is your organisation making the most of automation in the IT function?
By Christian Schultz, Manager, KPMG Denmark and Nino Cutic, Manager, KPMG Denmark
The new role of IT
The IT function has been under increasing pressure for years. The business is looking to the IT function to help deliver a massive inventory of new technologies and models aimed at unlocking greater agility and growth for the business. But at the same time, most organisations are also asking their IT functions to help reduce costs and improve efficiency. Simply put, the business is expecting more from the IT function, but at lower costs.
The IT function is also facing its own existential crisis. The reality is that many of the newer technologies can now be deployed without the technical support of the IT function. Indeed, with the introduction of cloud computing and business apps, many business functions are now ‘bypassing’ the IT function to achieve their goals. And that is forcing the IT function to rethink its role and value within the organisation.
Automation to the rescue
We believe that automation will provide the answer to IT’s growing challenges. At a functional level, automation offers the IT function massive opportunities to reduce costs, improve efficiency and enhance business agility.
Consider, for example, how automation could improve routine IT processes. We recently worked with an organisation within the Danish public sector to create a simple chatbot that was able to automatically verify user credentials and reset passwords accordingly. That little improvement has allowed the IT function to not only improve user access, but also enabled the function to move four full time employees onto much more strategic files.
We also recently worked with Maersk to create a machine learning solution that scans the IT general mailbox and automatically reroutes messages to the appropriate team from the 650 possible helpdesks within the business. Fully integrated into the ServiceNow platform and cloud-based, the solution has helped the company improve IT ticket assignment by almost 20 percent, thereby significantly reducing service times, freeing up resources and improving ticket resolution rates.
Embracing the bots
To be clear, this is not about reducing headcount by replacing people with machines. This is about enabling IT specialists to focus on much more strategic and value-driven tasks that support the organisation’s cost, risk and growth objectives. In fact, our survey shows that most service providers expect their clients to reap a significantly positive impact from their use of intelligent automation and digital labour.
In the early phases of automation implementation, the IT function should be seeking out opportunities where automation can reduce its own manual labour and speed up existing IT processes. As employees are released from non-value adding tasks, they can quickly be reassigned to more strategic tasks such as advising the business on technology selection or protecting the business from risks.
With this experience, the IT function can then move on to enabling the business to automate key processes – helping them identify the appropriate processes and then rethinking and redesigning them to improve efficiency and apply automation. Our survey suggests that more than 70 percent of all Danish companies may currently be looking to invest more into intelligent automation. By helping the business to find the right opportunities and the right technologies, the IT function could become more of a strategic partner to the business.
In time, these same capabilities and skill sets could be used to transform the IT function into an ‘Automation Centre of Excellence’, where core automation capabilities can be centralised, standardised and commercialised across the entire business ecosystem. And that would enable the IT function to assume even more strategic roles and responsibilities within the organisation.
Our survey shows that most Nordic organisations are already starting to play with automation. But our experience suggests that the vast majority of this work is focused on improving ‘front office’ customer-facing processes. We believe that benefits of at least equal value –if not more– could be generated by applying automation to the back office, particularly within the IT function.
Our advice to IT leaders in Denmark is to embrace automation – both within the IT function and within the wider business. We believe that will be the key to delivering on the expectations of the business. It will certainly be central to elevating the IT function into a source of strategic enterprise value.