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Automating healthcare IT starts with prioritizing high-value work

Shifting IT's focus from patching and monitoring to engineered automation keeps focus on higher-value engineering activities.
By admin
Apr 19, 2022, 8:00 AM

There is still an enormous amount of repeatable work done by people in many established organizations. Think of administration, monitoring, reviews, and responding to tickets among other tasks. Over the last decade, cloud vendors have demonstrated how automating processes that remove repetitive work can help increase overall efficiency. Automated processes are consistent and auditable, which can help reduce errors and improve quality. It can also free skilled tech talent to focus on higher value-added tasks.

IT leaders, for various reasons, have been slow to pursue these opportunities. This, however, is beginning to change. In what we recognize as an emerging trend, some CIOs are disrupting their organizations and the army of technologists that currently execute many manual tasks and handoffs across systems, architecture, development, and deployment. Beyond leveraging investments made by cloud providers to accelerate their journeys, CIOs are following the cloud providers’ playbook to identify and standardize processes. They are attacking opportunities in infrastructure, software components, security, and applications. Once their enhancements mature, CIOs and their teams optimize the new service delivery and automation using advanced techniques such as AI and ML.

Early participants in this trend have already seen gains in efficiency and lower labor costs. In a recent survey of IT and engineering leaders, 74% of respondents said that automation has helped their workforce work more efficiently. Fifty-nine percent reported cost reductions of up to 30% on teams that have embraced process automation. Add to this noticeable increases in quality and security, and it becomes clear why 95% of respondents are prioritizing process automation, with 21% saying it’s a high priority.

The pace of change only continues to increase. The business is asking for more, and they want it more quickly than ever before. The talent market is white hot, with growing demand for advanced skill sets (that are in perpetually short supply.) Everyone is trying to do more with less. 

The time to (finally) disrupt IT is now. Today’s competitive marketplace requires a more robust IT posture, which can translate into a competitive advantage. Organizations looking for opportunities to disrupt their status quo can focus their efforts in three areas:

Standardize and automate on-premises infrastructure

The first leg of an automation journey involves enabling all infrastructure and management functions to be controlled by code. Programmatic control of resources makes it possible to apply policies consistently and to store previously manual configurations in automated code and configuration files. These solutions require deploying some mix of compute (containers, virtualized servers, and functions), networking (software-defined), and storage.

Standardize and automate software, management tools, and applications

Leading-edge IT organizations no longer manage infrastructure; they now develop code that manages infrastructure, an approach that can boost scalability, efficiency, and consistency. This same approach can apply to software components, management tools, and a variety of applications. Modern IT organizations manage software code that, in turn, manages aspects of development, maintenance, operations, and security. Ultimately, it is easier to manage a single piece of code than an array of manually configured solutions. 

Optimize automation with ML and rules

Typically, a first pass at automation is rules-based. For example, “if process x doesn’t respond, restart the process.” Over time, IT staff members can identify issues that cause outages and malfunctions and optimize automation tools to address them, just as cloud providers demonstrated a decade ago. Eventually, you can move beyond rules-based to machine learning–based automation. An automation journey that begins immaturely can subsequently grow in terms of sophistication. Consistency delivers optimum performance.

The way forward

For CIOs and other leaders who are exploring automation opportunities, time is of the essence. In today’s rapid-fire innovation climate, there is not a lot of business value to be found in paying humans to maintain servers and data centers. As CIOs disrupt their IT organizations with automation, there will be ripe opportunities to shift employees’ focus from patching, monitoring, and measuring to higher-value engineering activities. More broadly, automation’s possibilities extend to areas such as development, deployment, maintenance, and security, thus making it possible to gain efficiency and consistency across more of IT’s operations. Luckily, some needed automation is readily available in the form of cloud-based solutions. The rest is achievable through engineering and a deliberate, consistent focus on building an automated future.


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