How Automation and AI Work Hand in Hand

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As businesses continue to work through their digital transformation efforts, they are becoming more fascinated than ever with new technology coming down the pike. Interest in emerging technology rose dramatically throughout 2017 and will accelerate even more this year, but there will definitely be some challenges as companies try to wrap their arms around a wide variety of topics, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and virtual reality.

Connecting Emerging Tech to the Business
One way IT pros can help drive internal discussions is to focus on how new tools can drive new value for the business rather than simply replacing existing systems. Rather than evaluating individual technologies in a vacuum and trying to figure out if there is a use case, concentrate on strategic goals and then determine which pieces should be part of the solution.

Automation is an example of this type of approach. Automation is not a standalone piece of technology that can be purchased, but it is a way to use new tech components in order to drive business objectives. As part of CompTIA’s research series on emerging tech, a recent brief on automation found that 81% of companies are pursuing automation in some way, whether they are targeting a specific process or simply building the infrastructure to enable future efforts. It wouldn’t be too surprising to find that even more companies already have some form of automation in place, since many companies are probably not considering simple tasks that have already been automated, such as documents that progress from one employee to another for e-signatures.

Reducing Complexity
For more advanced uses of automation, companies are looking at the rapidly growing complexity within their business processes, especially as more and more technology is added in order to increase efficiency or gather new data. The complexity begins to build on itself—more complex business processes lead to more complex IT architectures, which have more complex security scenarios. And although complexity is growing, IT teams are not usually growing at the same rate. Automation is the solution for aggressively pursuing technology adoption with a limited pool of resources.

With automation as the end goal, IT pros can then explore which components will be needed. Depending on the application, this could involve robotics, drones or Internet of Things. Across all applications, though, there will almost certainly be some level of artificial intelligence involved. As with automation, most people tend to think of the most futuristic models when it comes to AI, but there are many ways in which AI might appear in the workplace.

Using AI to Drive Automation

Another brief in the emerging tech series looks at AI and finds that 50% of companies already have some sort of AI tool in place. The use cases from these early adopters show that while AI certainly shows up in software (such as virtual assistants or chatbots), it also has a place in hardware (such as machine learning within IoT implementations or overall IT infrastructure). In many instances, AI will play the role of an enabling technology: It will be baked in to another tool that has its own primary function, extending the capabilities of the tool and providing more points of connection for automation.

On the surface, an aggressive pursuit of automation might seem threatening to the workers currently responsible for operations. While it is difficult to quantify the exact impact automation will have on jobs, the history of technology’s influence on the workforce suggests that new opportunities will emerge. Not only will automation lead to more technology consumption since it becomes easier to handle high complexity, but a working knowledge of automation and AI will be needed so that results do not simply come out of a mysterious black box. Understanding how to drive automation will likely make IT pros more valuable, not more expendable.

Emerging Tech: Automation and AI Webinar Recording Available
For more on automation and AI, CompTIA AITP members can login to the members portal and access the webinar recording