By Kawinthorn Bhutrakul
Special to The Nation
Business automation: begin with a definition
Traditionally, technologies such as business process management (BPM), decision management and complex event processing (CEP) were used to drive greater efficiencies and control costs across the organisation; however, these technologies are now finding their place as a key enabler for digital transformation. By aligning these technologies with modern, cloud-native application development tools and practices, organisations are able to bring new applications to market faster. Ultimately, it's about enabling business users and application developers to work together more seamlessly so that the organisation can respond to changes in the world with greater agility and effectiveness.
Automation’s role in digital transformation
Although the need for digital transformation varies widely based on an organisation's specific challenges and demands, it is the key strategy for thriving in today's market environment, and it requires both business and IT leaders to partner together. In an IDC study sponsored by Red Hat, 86 per cent of IT professionals said, “automation is very important or mission-critical to my future cloud strategy”. An enterprise-wide approach to automation should include strategies to transform the way people, processes, and platforms work together. This enables organisations to manage complex environments more easily, gain visibility into your operations, and integrate new technology and processes more effectively.
Case study: Ascend Money
A good example of automation’s value is Thailand’s own Ascend Money. As Asia’s largest financial technology company, it serves more than 40 million people in six countries. Rapid growth through acquisitions meant that teams in each country had different approaches to developing and deploying digital applications, preventing efficient collaboration. The company wanted to gain efficiency by building a central app development and deployment platform. Ascend Money standardised app delivery and processes on Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform, based on Kubernetes container orchestration technology. With the help of Ansible automation, Ascend Money can now more easily expand business products and services to quickly meet customer demand.
Another automation example from Asean’s public sector is Malaysia’s social security organisation, Perkeso. It is using Red Hat Process Automation to reduce operational costs and extend the availability of its services. With the help of process automation, more than 400,000 employers can now submit contributions and make payments via Perkeso’s new digital channels, instead of having to visit a physical branch. This not only helps Perkeso to better serve existing customers, it also means that employees in new sectors, such as drivers working for e-hailing services, are now protected under federal regulations.
Automation to drive business innovation
Expanding automation for an activity or set of tasks means less time spent manually performing those tasks. IT teams can implement new processes – create DevOps and DevSecOps, and enable them to make new applications and update at speed and at scale.
Automation also enables self-service and delegation. As people work in new configurations – like we do now with vast swathes of employees working remotely – we’re all under resource and time pressures. Delegation and self-service are vital to address these new challenges. Microsoft used automation to transform how they manage networks and network automation within their partner ecosystem of hardware vendors, different technologies and multi-vendor requirements. Working with Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform’s community, Microsoft drove network advancements for its enterprise clients.
Teams also cannot write code and create products without governance. Without the adequate layers of review and oversight, organisations run the risk of leaving open security vulnerabilities and configurations. This can pull valuable resources, time and money to solve problems that do not need to be there in the first place. Governance about “who’s allowed to do what”, especially in economies and businesses in Asean that are leapfrogging technology, is important when considering automation.
Up next: AI-driven automation
Automation has become an essential element of an organisation’s modernisation and digital transformation strategy, more so than ever before. Today, it is the answer to IT talent shortage and the constant pressure for agile innovation. The benefits are compelling. It improves accountability, efficiency and predictability while reducing cost, variability and risk. As a result, more and more enterprises are taking advantage of automation, making it a key business enabler for today’s fast-paced digital economy.
The technologies and use cases surrounding business automation continue to evolve, driven by macro-level trends such as the confluence of automation and application intelligence, the rise of the citizen developer, the impact of new cloud-native development and deployment paradigms like microservices and containers, and more.
As technology leaders evaluate the best route for driving business agility, they should also look for solutions that allow users to manage policy, enforcement and processes at the domain level. Solving problems at the same time and in one place allows for easy scalability, while freeing up bandwidth to focus on more strategic initiatives. If adaptation was a goal for 2020, then organisations should consider business automation in their 2021 digital transformation roadmaps in order to level-up.
Kawinthorn Bhutrakul is country manager at Red Hat Thailand.