2009 will likely go down in history as a tough year for the global economy, and a tougher year for most IT organizations. CIOs are being asked to further reduce budgets and increase staff efficiencies, while maintaining and often increasing the quality and number of IT services. However, as Albert Einstein once said, "in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity"; IT is full of them.
The rise of virtualization, policy-based networking, process standardization, automation, and SOA has positioned IT at a critical inflection point in achieving business efficiency and effectiveness. As IT and business leaders, we must seize these opportunities. To "get more out of less," CIOs are prioritizing investments into technologies that offer business impact and continuous cost containment. One of these areas is IT process automation technologies, whereby solutions ensure the automated workflow of a series of tasks, potentially triggering an action based on a series of inputs. Often, many of these projects start with a change or configuration process while success is measured on basic ROI metrics. What's interesting is that ROI is not enough. Measuring the business impact of IT process automation is where savvy CIOs are investing time and resources, using ROI as a baseline for time to value.
Recent customer conversations show this to be true:
- A large financial service firm is working towards delivering business process impact by integrating their virtual and physical management solutions into a service view, while mapping the service and application topology to the key customers' groups and utilizing chargeback for the services.
- A large insurance company is linking the number of agents to the number of policies created per day. The availability of this system is paramount, as is the data accuracy and capture.
- A retailer is linking their pricing and POS systems to the ability to execute workload automation. This helps to maintain accurate price points and ensure a balance between profitability and inventory management.
- A large service provider is managing SOA-based applications to high levels of availability and service levels, based on in-depth root cause analytics of application performance solutions.
- A large bank is looking to compress change and configuration costs and fragmented processes by standardizing process workflows across separate IT groups.
The common theme for all of these examples is efficient use of technology, notably IT process automation, to drive the business outcome. As a stand-alone solution, IT process automation has limited value. But when paired with solutions such as service desk or data center automation, they become an integral part of the foundation for business growth and IT's ability to directly measure and generate it.
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