Author Adam Skinner, Director of Consulting

Automation – the road to productivity, efficiency and cost reduction

The slowdown of Britain’s productivity in the last decade, has been the worst since the industrial revolution, according to a recent report from the University of Sussex and Loughborough University. Lagging productivity – which has fallen off a cliff since the 2008 financial crisis – is hampering living standards and having a damaging effect on GDP.

Explanations are easy to find. The UK’s average annual gross fixed investment was the lowest in the G7 between 2010 and 2019 – and countries that don’t invest, won’t grow. One area suffering from crippling under investment is digital transformation. Last year, a report – by Oracle and the Confederation of British Industry – said productivity in Britain was being hampered by the unwillingness of large organisations to embrace new technology. Even though digital adoption could boost the economy by £100bn, only 54% of companies in the report said they believed disruptive technologies will play an important part in their organisation, much lower than France and Germany.

So what could make digital transformation more attractive to companies?

For sure, cost is prohibitive. As is the perceived disruption to their BAU (business as usual). But automating large elements of digital transformation can slash costs, drive up quality and improve the efficiency of the delivery. What is the role of automation in digital transformation and how do organisations approach it?

  • Automation does not always equal job cuts: machine learning in digital transformation does not necessarily mean jobs will be cut. The automation of standardised processes means more expensive human resource can be freed up to do higher value work. Employees’ work changes from being repetitive, to being more strategic and decision making-led.
  • Knowing what to automate: standardised processes in digital transformation such as testing and QA (quality assurance) can easily be automated. Automation is fundamental to DevOps, an important set of processes for digital transformation, which marries software development (Dev) with IT operations (Ops). DevOps aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality – processes such as continuous integration and continuous delivery can be automated.
  • 24/7: solutions and technology aren’t restricted to set working hours and have to clock off at 6pm. Not so long ago, organisations employed a ‘follow the sun’ methodology for performing standardised processes, so – for example – QA teams around the world would take up the testing baton as their predecessors in other time zones finished their working day. The automation of testing and QA now means it carries on day or night, all week long.
  • Less cost, more accuracy: human resource is far more costly than an automated solution, which can help soothe those organisations put off by the expense of a digital transformation programme. It’s also true that automation improves both the quality and the accuracy of programme delivery and boosts its overall efficiency.

In the post-COVID-19 world, technology evolution has never been more important. Even though lots of organisations are put off by cost implications and perceived disruption to business, digital transformation is key to safeguarding the future of these businesses. And automation is key to this digital progression – saving costs, improving quality and boosting productivity. What’s not to love?

Author Adam Skinner, Director of Consulting

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