Automation is moving at a breakneck pace: Here’s how that trend is being leveraged in enterprise IT

Automation is moving at a breakneck pace: Here’s how that trend is being leveraged in enterprise IT

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With the rapid pace with which automation is advancing these days, certain headlines that may have once seemed ripped from the pages of an Isaac Asimov novel are now just regular reports in the business section of the news.

Take this recent CNBC headline: “Robots could surpass workers at Amazon by 2030 …,” referring to the multinational technology company’s plans to utilize automated robots moving into the future.

“If you compare the number of robots Amazon has to the number of employees, it’s about a third. And we believe that by the year 2030, Amazon can have more robots than employees,” Cathie Wood, chief executive officer and chief investment officer at Ark Invest, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

It’s been a sort of perfect storm as cloud computing and artificial intelligence have taken massive steps forward, paired with the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing employers to adapt to the demands of remote work. The desire to increase efficiency and save money has further spurred organizations to eye the benefits automation can provide.

Despite what is often reported in the media, some expect that automation will lead to more opportunities. The World Economic Forum predicts that 85 million jobs will be displaced by automation and technology advances by 2025, but it will create 97 million new roles.

That has significant implications in every industry, many of which will be forever changed. The adoption of automation solutions is moving rapidly in each industry, including enterprise IT. So what does the future look like, and how are companies in enterprise IT leveraging it?

This article is part of an ongoing series from theCUBE that explores automation trends within the enterprise sector, with the support of our media partner Red Hat Inc.

A birds-eye view of automation examples in enterprise IT

There have been many significant innovations when it comes to automation innovation in enterprise IT in recent years. That largely has to do with innovations tied to AI, machine learning, robotic process automation and more.

But in examining how these innovations are implemented practically by companies, it’s important to zoom in on some recent announcements. Take TurboTax owner Intuit Inc., which has utilized an AI platform, complete with natural-language capabilities, to route the concerns of users to the right tax preparation experts.

Ashok Srivastava, the company’s chief data officer, told the Wall Street Journal that though customers are connected with human experts at the end of the experience, “a lot of that experience is powered by artificial intelligence.”

Red Hat Ansible, a suite of software tools that enables infrastructure as code, has also sought to transform its industry through automation, citing its artificial intelligence-powered automation as one of its most significant selling points.

In recent months, the company announced it was teaming up with IBM to create a community-driven AI initiative called Project Wisdom, which seeks to pair Ansible with AI-powered capabilities to simplify automation and make it more accessible.

“Project Wisdom is about combining two major forces that are in many ways disrupting and constructing many aspects of our society, which are software and AI together,” Ruchir Puri, chief scientist of IBM Research at IBM, told industry analysts Lisa Martin and John Furrier at AnsibleFest in October, during an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. 

“I truly believe it’s going to result in a seismic shift on how not just enterprises, but society carries forward,” Puri said.

During the same interview, Tom Anderson, vice president and general manager for the Ansible Business Unit at Red Hat Inc., told theCUBE how the company plans to allow people to experiment with the program.

“This isn’t the midpoint of a journey, even though the work has been going on for a year. This is the beginning of the community journey now,” Anderson said. “We’re going to start working together through channels like Discord and whatnot to be able to exchange information and bring people in.”

Other major companies have also started to begin implementing some significant changes. Last month, Microsoft said that it would begin to implement the OpenAI-built ChatGPT into all of its enterprise systems and platforms after investing $10 billion into the platform.

That started to come into focus in early February, when the company rolled out a premium version of its Microsoft Teams platform, which it says is intended to simplify meetings. In a blog post announcing the development, Microsoft wrote that the development means that the tool can now do chores that were previously done manually, including taking notes and bulleting key takeaways from meetings.

“Now — more than ever — organizations need solutions to adapt to change, improve productivity and reduce costs. Fortunately, modern tools powered by AI hold the promise to boost individual, team and organizational-level productivity and fundamentally change how we work,” the company wrote.

The future of automation

Automation in enterprise IT is only expected to continue its rapid growth, perhaps even more exponentially than before, with technologies like AI, RPA and machine learning changing rapidly. 

It will have big impacts on the workplace, too. IT market researcher Gartner Inc., has predicted that by 2024, endpoint analytics and automation will help digital workplace service staff shift 30% of their time spent on endpoint support and repair to continuous engineering.

When it comes to the corporate landscape as we see it today, others see massive shifts in the year ahead. As noted by the World Economic Forum, Richard Foster, a senior faculty fellow at the Yale School of Management, predicts that within a decade, 40% of today’s Fortune 500 companies will be replaced by new companies that do not exist yet.

In early episodes of Dave Vellante’s Breaking Analysis, it was predicted that productivity declines in the U.S. and Europe especially would require automation to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

“That’s what’s happening. Automation today is attacking not only the labor shortage, but its support optimizations in ESG, supply chain, helping with inflation challenges, helping with inflation challenges and improving capital allocation,” said Vellante during an episode last year focused on how RPA has become a transformation catalyst.

So what comes next? It’s likely that new intriguing announcements in the field, along the lines of Microsoft’s collaboration with ChatGPT, will continue to roll out in the coming weeks and months. For James Fairweather, chief innovation officer with logistics firms Pitney Bowes, the year ahead will likely include the further automation of multiple processes that used to be done manually, such as determining freight classifications.

“The automation mindset is extending to how you automate the entirety of your business,” Fairweather told the Wall Street Journal.

For Ansible, it means continuing to emphasize its efforts to level up automation through optimizing computer technology and through its partnership with IBM.

Red Hat’s Anderson agreed with theCUBE industry analyst John Furrier’s assessment of the partnership: as though it was like bringing two “killer apps” together, the Ansible configuration automation layer with AI.

“It’s an amazing relationship, where we bring all this expertise around automation, obviously around IT and application infrastructure automation, and [IBM research] brings this amazing capacity and experience around AI,” Anderson said. “Bringing those two things together and applying AI to automation for our teams is so incredibly fantastic, I just can’t contain my enthusiasm around it.”

No matter what company one zeroes in on, there’s sure to be similar enthusiasm around where this field goes from here — and it seems increasingly likely that the year ahead will bring advances in enterprise IT we still have yet to grasp.

Image: PhonlamaiPhoto’s / Canva

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