On June 28, I was honored to be a guest speaker at a webinar hosted by Astound, purveyors of AI solutions designed to improve IT service management (ITSM). During my discussion with Rob Young, Astound’s Senior Director of Product Marketing, an analogy about intelligent automation occurred to me. The analogy seemed to resonate with Rob and several other participants, so I have decided to share and expand a bit upon it here.
How the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Changed Banking, Bankers, and Banks
When ATMs were a new idea, they became popular among banks and bankers pretty quickly. Among the many reasons, one still stands out to me today.
ATMs could elevate the business value of tellers to the bank.
ATMs freed tellers from performing mundane, repetitive tasks such as processing simple deposits, withdrawals, and balance inquiries. This enabled tellers to devote more time and attention to transactions of higher value, to customers and to the bank, such as loans and mortgages.
Customers seeking to execute such transactions no longer had to wait in line behind a bunch of people waiting to make those simple deposits, withdrawals, and balance inquiries. Tellers got to have more interesting work days, and provide more and better service to customers with higher-value transactions. Banks enjoyed higher transaction volumes, higher levels of customer satisfaction, and higher revenues from high-value transactions. Modern telephone and online banking built upon these successes, leading to how most of us bank today.
How AI and Automation are Like ATMs for IT
AI and intelligent automation can empower many ways to improve IT. There is one particular way that stands out for me today.
AI and intelligent automation can elevate the jobs, productivity, and value to the business of IT leaders and their teams.
AI and intelligent automation can free IT support providers from performing mundane, repetitive tasks such as authorizing access to applications and password resets. This enables IT team members to devote more time and attention to tasks of higher value, such as cybersecurity or development of new resources and services.
Users, both internal and external, no longer have to play “telephone tag” with IT people to replace the password they lost when that sticky note fell off the bottom of their computer keyboard. (Just saying.) IT people can get more job satisfaction from spending more time on more interesting tasks. IT departments can enjoy more positive perception by users, and deliver higher value to the business. And the business can enjoy greater efficiencies and higher levels of employee and customer satisfaction.
WorkMarket provides businesses with services to find, manage, and pay freelancers and contractors. For its 2020 In(Sight) Report: What AI & Automation Really Mean for Work, WorkMaraket commissioned KRC Research to survey 200 business leaders and 202 employees online. More than half the employees (53 percent) said they believe automation could save each of them as many as 240 hours annually. More than three-quarters of business leaders (78 percent) believe 360 hours of their time could be saved annually with automation. A 500-person company or department that pays employees an average of $38.50 and business leaders $77 per hour could realize savings from automation of $4.7 million each year. (For details, see “How Automation Could Save Your Business $4 Million Annually” by WorkMarket co-founder and president Jeff Wald at Forbes.com.)
AI and automation are indeed providing an “ATM” for IT. In this use case, “ATM” is an acronym for “automated transformation methodology.” But if done right, this ATM can generate fair amounts of cash, too.
Words of Hope and Motivation from the Past
“Automation is not our enemy. Our enemies are ignorance, indifference, and inertia. If we understand it, if we plan for it, if we apply it well, automation will not be a job destroyer or a family displaced. Instead, it can remove dullness from the work of man and provide him with more than man has ever had before.”
– US President Lyndon B. Johnson, remarking upon the creation of The National Commission on Technology, Automation, and Economic Progress – in 1964.
AI, Automation, and IT: Learn More
Rob and I discussed several other elements of how AI, automation, and other modern technologies are enabling and accelerating transformation of IT and the businesses that rely on it. Visit the Astound web site for access to a recording of our webinar – and feel free to share your ideas and comments with me and/or Astound. Your thoughts and words just might inspire a future webinar, blog post, or both.